Today it was announced that HarperCollins has put new restrictions on the eBooks it sells/licenses to libraries through Overdrive. I will link to the articles and blog posts at the end, but the long and short of it is that each eBook will only be able to be lent 26 times and then it will expire and the library or consortium will have to buy/license a new copy.
HarperCollins came to the limit of 26 checkouts in part by considering the “the average lifespan of a print book, and wear and tear on circulating copies”.
Publishers have also expressed concerns to Overdrive about the size of library consortia sharing an ebook collection as well as individual library terms about issuing library cards. In future, one might expect publishers to require limitations in these areas as well for their eBooks to go into libraries.
In some ways, I see the point. A print book does not last forever. But my understanding is that libraries don’t get the discount from Overdrive that they get on print books. And I think it’s ridiculous to try to make all the same rules, limitations really, apply to eBooks as print books different medium, different rules. If publishers are going to try to force eBooks in libraries to be treated as print books, I am really looking forward to free inter-library loan on my ebooks. (yes, that is sarcasm).
At the end of the day, the only reason I ever recommended the Nook, Sony, or Kobo readers over the Kindle was access to eBooks through your library. I believe today’s announcement is a sign of things to come for Overdrive and that soon there will be no advantage at all to those eReaders.