Originally Posted by BadBilly
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.
The "popular" "bestsellers" is where the BPHs make their money.
And if 50 reads is all a popular book can take these days then, yeah, 52 checkouts is no loss.
But what we're gripping about is the *expiration* "feature" that effectively forecloses library sales for anything *but* the "bestsellers".
Because a book that is only checked out maybe 5 times in two years becomes, in effect 10 times more expensive than a "bestseller" and the library becomes simply a free alternative to Costco.
Libraries should do better than cater to the lowest common denominator of book reading, shouldn't they? I'm no fan of the genre but this scheme pretty much shuts out litfic from ebook libraries.
The big issue isn't the limited checkouts (though it's bad enough), but the forced expiration. That is the poison pill here.