Congratulations HarperCollins – you just guaranteed Amazon and Kindle will win the eBook & eReader war

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.

Links

HarperCollins Caps Loans on Ebook Circulations

Publishing Industry Forces OverDrive and Other Library eBook Vendors to Take a Giant Step Back

New OverDrive DRM terms: “This message will self-destruct”

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18 Responses to Congratulations HarperCollins – you just guaranteed Amazon and Kindle will win the eBook & eReader war

  1. Oh wow….do they realize libraries have extremely limited budgets nowadays? I wouldn’t be surprised if librarians stop buying HarperCollins books now because they can’t afford the expense of rebuying/relicenscing each title. Patrons will not be happy if we can’t offer certain titles, but budgets only go so far! Thanks for sharing the news; this was the first I’d heard about it.

  2. Sarah says:

    I wonder how they came up with 26 checkouts. Because I really feel like a hard cover library book is generally checked out way more times before it has to be replaced.

    Bad news.

  3. Amber says:

    I suspect I know how they arrived at the ridiculous 26 number. There are 52 weeks in a year, right? Most checkout terms are 2 weeks. 52/2=26. That’s a year’s worth of circulation. NOT the lifespan of a print book. HC is full of it. As usual.

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  5. Karen says:

    This is maddening. My eighteen-year-old brother just started reading Huckleberry Finn on his iTouch because he got sick of playing games. I asked him why that book, and why the sudden interest in reading? His answer: “it was free.”

    So thanks, HarperCollins, for limiting a resource that has the potential to fundamentally change the future of reading!

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  7. Pingback: Publishing Industry Forces OverDrive and Other Library eBook Vendors to Take a Giant Step Back | Librarian by Day

  8. Paige says:

    Aarrgghhh!
    The archaic publishing and bookselling model is strained to the breaking point in print media. The advent of eBooks and multimedia just mean that we are all going to suffer both technological and socio-cultural upheaval as this business rearranges itself to new realities. I don’t want to license my life, I want to own it.

  9. Diana says:

    All I can say is they STILL DON’T GET IT. And probably never will. They believe they still control the market, and I’m not even sure since Amazon’s arrival if they ever have.

  10. Pingback: Discriminating Against Libraries, 26 eBook Circs at a Time

  11. Pingback: The Publisher of Tolkien Has Taken a Business Lesson from Sauron | The Digital Reader

  12. Jean says:

    nope. they still don’t. And they just keep making it worse. The sad part is a functional ebook model has been around for years and the publisher’s got the numbers to prove it. Baen. They respect their readers and really get how to handle ebooks. The major publishers don’t want to hear it. They care more about “protecting” their content.

  13. Jennifer says:

    Great article! I posted something similar myself, detailing my dislike of this turn of events. A friend also created a boycott image to be used on blogs, if you so desire. And a facebook and goodreads group….trying to get the word out any way we can!
    Just Nooking Around: HarperCollins Is Run By Greedy Fools.

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  16. meyoung says:

    here’s more commentary from libraries’ point of view, which is predictably dismayed, especially since the demand for ebooks is growing quickly (although the article points out that libraries will now lose out on revenue from selling unpopular books). the article also notes that libraries can constitute 7-9% of a publisher’s revenue, but including sales of paperbacks to replace hardbacks.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/15/business/media/15libraries.html?hp

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