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Libraries are fighting to preserve your right to borrow e-books (cnn.com)
83 points by HugThem 74 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 6 comments



Sadly most of the public has no idea what scams that publishers are pulling on libraries for the "right" to offer e-books. They think a) they're really cheap - after all it's just a digital book and Kindle books are cheaper than physical books b) even if it's expensive you can lend them out as much as you want c) they're cheaper to maintain in the library.

Of course none of these are true. Publishers charge exorbitant prices for an e-book compared to the physical book (sometimes 10x the cost). There have been attempts to restrict how many times a library can offer a book for loan (after all a physical book eventually wears out but an e book doesn't). Libraries are restricted to simultaneous use of a digital book to the number of copies (each one at full exorbitant price). It costs a library just as much to maintain and catalog a digital book as it does a physical book.

It seems sadly that only libraries are in this fight - I don't hear very much from the public except when books they want aren't available because we can't afford to buy multiple copies of electronic versions.


> It costs a library just as much to maintain and catalog a digital book as it does a physical book.

Do you have any evidence for this? Specifically e-books do not require expensive floor space and employee time restocking shelves. While the management costs are not free I would expect them to be substantially cheaper than physical books.


The time/cost savings from not having a physical book is well offset by the amount of time needed to a) support patrons use of ebooks via apps and backends which deliver the books and b) administrative time purchasing and dealing with the publishers.

Income is lost because ebooks are never overdue and so fine income is significantly reduced over physical books.

Floor space is not reduced (we have plenty of books that need to be shelved) and reshelving costs are the lowest of any costs in the organization due to the fact that a lot of reshelving is done by volunteers.


The promise of the library is that books are available for free to anyone in society. It’s a little strange that we have the underlying technology to make libraries far, far more amazing than they were in 1950, and it just isn’t permitted. Imagine the ability to borrow any book in the world, on your iPhone, immediately, for free. But due to the way copyright laws work, the rules are just totally different for digital libraries. Perhaps the world would be better off if a free digital library of books were permitted, rather than forbidden.


Imagine the ability to borrow any book in the world, on your iPhone, immediately, for free.

Well, thanks to Library Genesis (and SciHub) and archive.org, I can download 95% of the books and papers I want immediately for free. Same with music. It's just incredible--when I was a kid I couldn't have imagined that this would ever happen.


Publishers need to realize that unless they wise up, they're going to lose the battle sooner rather than later.

Authors need to get paid. But today, authors can promote their books themselves (podcast interviews, youtube interviews, direct-to-site for established authors, readings in libraries). And they can sell directly to fans.

You'd think publishers would look at sci-hub and tone it down not up. If they keep strong-arming libraries, that too will hasten their demise. Readers don't CARE who publishes a book, and they love libraries ... which have been and will be around for millenia after Macmillan turns to dust.




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