Librarians To Confront E-Book Mess: The Week Ahead

Rose FoxAndrew AlbaneseAs 2012 draws to its end, magazines and media proclaim the year’s winners and losers. Publishers Weekly gets the party started early next week with its announcement of book publishing’s “Person of the Year” for 2012. In the same issue, PW previews the upcoming Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association.

“Overall, 2012 was a frustrating year for libraries and librarians – at least, that’s the perception, primarily because of the impasse with major publishers over e-book lending policies,” PW senior writer Andrew Albanese tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally. “However, it was actually a good year for libraries in other ways—namely in the courts, with a number of favorable decisions on fair use.”

In the weekly review of reviews, PW reviews editor Rose Fox takes note of Detroit: An American Autopsy from Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Charlie LeDuff. “Returning in 2008 after 20 years away, the former NY Times staff writer finds a city in its death throes,” Fox says. “He delivers an edgy portrait of the decline, destruction, and possible redemption of his hometown.”

Every Friday, CCC’s “Beyond the Book” speaks with the editors and reporters of “Publishers Weekly” for an early look at the news that publishers, editors, authors, agents and librarians will be talking about when they return to work on Monday.

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11 Responses to “Librarians To Confront E-Book Mess: The Week Ahead”

  1. ProfBob February 12, 2013 at 8:23 am #

    There are some pretty decent free ebooks out there. Maybe librarians could divide up the freebies and choose those that are worthwhile.

  2. ProfBob February 12, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    I would suggest looking at the free ebooks at: Smashwords, iTunes, Scribd then Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Some publishers list free or inexpensive ebooks, such as, or print books like American Press.

  3. Matt February 13, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    My local library now offers e-books. You have to use something called “overdrive” to download them, and you can use just about any sort of reader. The only thing I’m puzzled by is that there are still waiting lists for e-books. It seems that the libraries get permission to lend out these e-books one or two copies at a time, just as if they were print books. Is it a licensing thing? I’ve had to wait for 2-3 weeks to move up to the top of waiting lists for some e-books. I hope the licensing problems will be sorted out because treating e-book downloads like print books – limiting readership – is just nonsense.

  4. HughB February 19, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    It’s slowly settling out. My library is offering a few thousand titles as e-books – with limited numbers of copies. That way they can purchase the titles & the authors can be rewarded as it should be. There is still a problem that some publishers are not allowing access to e-book versions, I hope that these will eventually catch up.

    Some significant advantages – no damage, no late returns (the book just stops working).

    Plus thousands of out-of-copyright books are also available without restrictions.

    Of course, the crazy copyright laws that have kept everything in copyright since 1923 continue to cause insanity. Maybe in 2014 congress will treat the copyright issue sensibly instead of just extending the freeze.

  5. Edmund O'Connor March 23, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

    Matt: Yes, it’s a licensing thing. Publishers are terrified of everyone simply going to the library and borrowing the ebook for free (even thought it’s perfectly possible, from a technical point of view). There’s some justification to this, but it can get completely overblown. One publisher demanded that libraries buy a “new” ebook after the 26th loan, even though of course there was nothing wrong with the copies already in stock. Cue the Toronto Public Library showing off books which had been borrowed over 100 times, still in good condition, and said library cutting off its contract with said publisher.

  6. Steven Bogardus April 5, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

    Libraries being given the right to give out unlimited numbers of e-books would be the same as giving away unlimited numbers of print books. Unlimited numbers of e-books is an idea created by a MORON! The time and effort put into writing a book puts a value on that book. Someone has created something and other people think that they should have it for free would be devistating to authors. Most print books are now also available as e-books. If people could go to the library to download all the e-books they wanted libraries would never get another e-book. If libraries kept giving out free e-books that they weren’t authorized to the authors that publish these books would sue every library that did it. If the authors would lose such a suite they would only publish hard copies. No one wants to work for free, I know that I don’t. I am a writer and an independant publisher.

  7. lmwilker May 2, 2013 at 7:59 am #

    The Justice Department should be looking at eBook publishers through a RICO lens for price fixing.

  8. marcos anthony toledo May 2, 2013 at 8:44 am #

    This is a plan to bring mass illiteracy by destroying the the book publishing industry. By jacking up the prices of books and plan obsolescence by regularly changing the e-book reader technology. It keep the masses ignorant by our elite masters and also destroy the free library system all in their plan of ignorance is strength.

  9. Bassanio Broke May 4, 2013 at 12:41 am #

    Technology innovation has created paradigm shift, I fully agree that authors should be fully rewarded for their creativity but there should be some other solution as well for example free versions with advertisement pages inserted and revenues goes to authors. Many software are distributed this way.

  10. Robert May 5, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    Mr Bogardus,

    I do not consider myself or any other person who disagrees with me a MORON. Extensive reading in my life has brought home to me the tremendous diversity of opinions throughout history.
    Be that as it may, surely if unlimited copies were available to read as e- books, a simple solution would be to electronically record each loan, and at the end of each year or specified period, an appropriate payment would be made to the author. Another way would be a simple small charge, not the excessive amounts required to purchase the item.
    If you price people out of the market, you will simply encourage others to convert and upload the books onto the Internet, enabling people to obtain them instantaneously for free, with no financial benefit to the author.
    Just a thought Mr Bogardus.

  11. sydney chick June 24, 2013 at 12:54 am #

    Mr Bogardus,

    You seem to be unaware that libraries use a technology with eBooks so that after a certain number of days you can no longer read the book on loan. My library offers a choice of 7, 14 or 21 day loans of ebooks, and limit the number of eBook loans to 5 at a time.

    You also seem to overlook the concept that libraries “give out” free books every single day and a decent author will still sell books. Neil Gaiman has no issue with libraries and they lend out a lot of books by him.

    As an avid reader I’ve purchased far more books for my eReader than I did before I had one. Before then all my non-fiction was “given out” by my local libraries.

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