Ramblings, citations and "brainwaves" of a college librarian in Toronto. 475 square feet refers to the size of my home, not the size of my office or library.

eBooks in Libraries a Thorny Problem, Says Macmillan CEO

E-mail this post

Remember me (?)

All personal information that you provide here will be governed by the Privacy Policy of Blogger.com. More...

""That is a very thorny problem", said Sargent. In the past, getting a book from libraries has had a tremendous amount of friction. You have to go to the library, maybe the book has been checked out and you have to come back another time. If it's a popular book, maybe it gets lent ten times, there's a lot of wear and tear, and the library will then put in a reorder. With ebooks, you sit on your couch in your living room and go to the library website, see if the library has it, maybe you check libraries in three other states. You get the book, read it, return it and get another, all without paying a thing. "It's like Netflix, but you don't pay for it. How is that a good model for us?"

"If there's a model where the publisher gets a piece of the action every time the book is borrowed, that's an interesting model."

Sargent has clearly thought about libraries, but perhaps he's not talked much to them. His points are valid- the existing business relationship between publishers and libraries won't work for ebooks the way it has worked for print books and the "frictions" that exist for print materials could disappear for ebooks. But he has gaps in his knowledge of libraries. The patron-on-the-couch scenario wouldn't work for libraries either- why would a town support its library's ebook purchasing if everyone could get the ebook from a library 3 states away? The fee-per-circulation model would be a disaster for most libraries, which have fixed annual budgets, and can't just close in September if they've spent their circ budget.

On the other side, the models preferred by libraries are not necessarily going to work for publishers. While the subscription model will probably work for academic institutions, it would turn public libraries into unnecessary intermediaries. The "perpetual access" model would be suicide for publishers if applied to their most profitable top-line books."

Go to Hellman


Previous posts


What do I do with ATOM?