Friday, September 6, 2013

To Library or not to Library

One of the interesting topics lately floating around is the situation of ebook libraries.  Corry Doctorow (a long time advocate against DRM and what many large publishing companies are doing) had a conversation with the American Library Association about the problem of unfair practices the publishers are forcing on libraries.  You can read about it here

In essence they make libraries pay $60-$80 per book and force them to invest in complicated proprietary collection-management systems (overdrive).  And of course they can only lend one copy at a time.  While this does make sense, in a way, since that is what a normal library does with physical books, the other aspects do not.  Also a library cannot sell the books later on if they wish.  And some publishers would like to have a book self destruct after it has been borrowed 26 times!

This is truly sad and the reason is simple: Publishers view libraries as a loss of sales.  Which is far from the truth as you can get.  They should view it as a wonderful low (to none) cost advertising venue.  Consider this: Most people that barrow from a library either can afford to buy the book, or they read so much they don't have the space to store all the books they read.  Now yes the publisher didn't get a sale from this person, however this person tells several other friends that do buy books on a regular basis and do so based on this persons recomendation.  In this example (which is more common than you might think) the publisher actually makes MORE money than if they had just the one sale.  And over the course of the library books life, there is a potential for quite a bit of income for the publisher.

In the end supporting libraries is a win-win situation as the publishers get more sales, and readers get access to wonderful books they wouldn't have otherwise.  And isn't that what a library is all about?

Don DeBon is the author of Italian Fever.  Currently available on Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Kobo.

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