Originally Posted by Iznogood
I haven't read all the discussions about this subject, but as far as I've read, no one is saying that the books should not expire and at the same time cost less than paperbacks.
I said in my last post in this thread that I see no harm in ebooks being more expensive than paperbooks if the library are allowed to treat the paperbook and the ebook the same way, i.e. interlibrary loans and eternal use. This would save the library a good deal of money, and that money should go to the publishers. Such a deal would be worth paying a premium to the publisher.
Or, if the book has to expire, it has to be rediculously cheap since the book must be re-purchased every second year, providing a steady income for the publisher.
Paying a large sum* for a book that expires doesn't make sense, and will lead to a poorer service and poorer selection as a lot of older books will expire and not be renewed.
*even $25 is a large sum to keep a book for only two years! A hardbound book costs the same and lasts much longer than two years!
You do remember that after two years the licence expires whether the 52 loans are reached or not, right? For unpopular books that gets checked out once a year this is expensive, so the libraries will not renew these books, and older books will(!) disappear from the system. That would be a disaster, since the publishers don't care a damn about preservation, and cannot be supposed to pay for preserving their books! As you yourself say, publishers do what they must to make money, everything else is not their priority. That's why we have libraries.
What we are saying isn't that books shall be free or that books shall be available to everyone, exactly where they want it, and exectly when they want it. But the libraries need to retain their independence from the publishers. The libraries are supposed to make books available after the book has disappeared from the market and preserve out cultural heritage, and we must make sure that they can do that.
I'm not saying that the libraries should be allowed to do what they want with ebooks in the first couple of years when the publisher is earning back the money they've invested in a book. But it is important that the libraries get a copy of the epub or mobi or whatever, and that they have the right to do what they want with the file after a while when this particular book gets harder and harder to find!
You make good points that I agree are well worth considering. Points that libraries can pursue. However, you are overlooking some points. For example, for popular titles, the 50 borrowing or two year limit isn't so unreasonable. In an article I read (it was linked to from one of these library/publisher threads), they quoted a librarian as saying that a paper version of a bestseller may last for about 50 borrowings before it is too worn for use. This was in an article that was against very high prices and limiting borrowings to 26 times. Now, if this this scheme from Macmillan allows a library to get about as much use from an e-book as from a paper book, it sounds like a step in the proper direction.
I agree that there is some point to libraries having copies of older books. Realistically, however, no public library keeps a copy of everything it has ever acquired. Academic libraries may be more inclined to this, but public libraries cull old books that nobody borrows. Older books already disappear from the system. Limitations of space mean that public libraries have limits on the books they keep. E-books don't require the same physical space, so that could be a real benefit, allowing libraries to keep older, more obscure works that are rarely borrowed. How publishers and libraries will deal with this is an important question that needs to be worked out.
I have no particular love for the BPHs. As large, publicly-traded corporations, they no longer show the love of literature that smaller publishers do. While there may be many people working in those companies that love the written word and finding a great author and bringing him or her to the public, the shareholder imperative of ever increasing profits has largely squeezed out the mid-list authors. Like big music and movies, it's now about the blockbusters. Those are books, though, that the public (as in PUBLIC library) wants to read. This deal seems like a decent starting point to further the discussion between libraries and publishers.