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Old 01-26-2013, 06:47 AM   #16
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Sometimes you guys just make me completely confused. On the one hand you complain that there aren't enough e-books available in libraries and then when a large publisher say they will make their titles available you complain about that. As a comedian would say: "Tough crowd"!
Because the ebooks should not be treated any different than pbooks. The borrowing of them is managed in the same way. With this approach Macmillan is - as the monkey says - screwing the pooch.
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Old 01-26-2013, 06:47 AM   #17
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Sometimes you guys just make me completely confused. On the one hand you complain that there aren't enough e-books available in libraries and then when a large publisher say they will make their titles available you complain about that. As a comedian would say: "Tough crowd"!
+1. If it adds a few more ebook titles into my library's moribund selection, I'm all for it. 50 cents per check out isn't that bad.
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Old 01-26-2013, 06:51 AM   #18
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Sometimes you guys just make me completely confused. On the one hand you complain that there aren't enough e-books available in libraries and then when a large publisher say they will make their titles available you complain about that. As a comedian would say: "Tough crowd"!
First of all, it is a pilot program. Read: temporary.
Second, it is a tiny pilot: 1200 titles from the back catalog of one off their smaller imprints.
Third, the book licenses *expire* even if nobody checks them out.

Dunno if you ever heard of Sony's very first ebook reader? The one nobody bought? Even in Japan? It only read ebooks you "bought" that expired after 3 months.

Or the original DivX DVDs from Circuit City? They were DVDs you bought at retail for the price of a (very expensive) rental and when you first played them they "phoned home" for authentication and started a clock ticking. You had 48 hours to watch as many times as you wanted! After that the disk became unplayable unless you paid again.

Both the Librie and DivX were Dead on Arrival; consumers know a scam when they see one, but Circuit City were at least honest enough to make it clear the DVDs were *rentals* and didn't pretend they were selling anything.

Trying to foist time-limited rentals as sales isn't particularly customer friendly unless the customer is a sucker. (Of which, admittedly, there is no shortage, to judge by sales of certain books.)

So yeah: tough crowd.
Comes from meeting the minimum requirements for literacy.

(Life in consumerist society teaches critical reading skills. You tend to get good at spotting clumsy gotchas n contracts. The subtle ones take a bit longer to figure out, though.)
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Old 01-26-2013, 07:09 AM   #19
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I get the impression that library lenders in the US aren't primarily interested in reading popular books, is that the case? Here in Sweden there is a clear bias towards the big publishers. I assumed people would be happy that they gained access to one of the big publisher's backlist through the library system. Seems like I was completely off base.
Actually, the problem is that libraries (as part of the ancien regime) as a rule *only* deal with the big publishers. Even small print publishers have trouble getting their book on library shelves unless they've been featured in a book review journal. Sheep begging to be shorn.

As a result, libraries have turned themselves into a captive market for the BPHs who rely on hardcover "Library editions" (at prices of up to $100) of pbooks for a good part of the profits from the midlist. With pbooks they are comfy with the deal because if the book is popular it gets worn out pretty fast and ends up in a library book sale and if it isn't nobody checks it out and they got a sale at 4-5X value.

Now apply that logic to ebooks: price it at 4-5X real value, put a limit on the number of check outs in case it's popular and an expiration date in case it isn't. In both cases the idea is to make the library keep buying the same ebook over and over.

Mind you, I'm of the opinion the libraries will fall all over themselves. They are being thrown a bone, after all. Who cares if it's poisoned?

There are plenty of smaller publishers that would be *thrilled* to get libraries to buy their books (for infinite rentals) at retail prices, much less at higher than retail. But no, those books aren't listed in the review journals...
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Old 01-26-2013, 09:14 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Kumabjorn View Post
Sometimes you guys just make me completely confused. On the one hand you complain that there aren't enough e-books available in libraries and then when a large publisher say they will make their titles available you complain about that. As a comedian would say: "Tough crowd"!
There's more at stake here than "just" making books available to the library patrons. Preservation of books is just as important to a library, and books that "expires" in two years just doesn't make sence to a library. If a researcher comes to the library in fifty years and needs to access a particular edition of a book, there's no guarantee that the book is available. If Macmillan wants to withdraw the book and not sell it any more*, the libraries can not renew their license and all the available editions of this book is lost from the entire system.

Besides it will be a very expencive book if the libraries are going to pay even a small fee every second year for all eternity! The result of such a system is that the older books will disappear from the libraries, and this is a very big paradox for me. E-books actually makes it possible to store a book for all eternity and make it available in libraries long after it's out of print and long after the publisher have lost interest in the book, or banned it and refusing to sell it - what we need is a system that secures the book for the next generations, not a system that duplicates the problem of today with older books disappearing from the libraries, making them hard to get access to, and in some cases impossible to find.

*There are many reasons they might decide to do that - the book might be considered too old-fashioned/too racist/too modern/too bold to allow it in sale, and pull it from their system. Or the book might be sencored and the original edition removed from sale. Or worse, they might do as Disney does. Withdraw the titles from sale for a certain amount of time in order to sell the next edition in higher volumes. Just the thought of all the stupid things these people do makes me cry

Edit: the negotiations between Norwegian publishers and Norwegian libraries just ended in a deadlock over a similar dispute. The libraries refused to accept the publishers terms, and quite rightly so. I'm sad that there won't be ebooks in Norwegian libraries for a long time, but happy that there is still a chance to make a good system out of it in the future instead of settling for a bad system today

Last edited by Iznogood; 01-26-2013 at 09:32 AM. Reason: Typo
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Old 01-26-2013, 09:55 AM   #21
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My take on the system was that libraries didn't need to pay for books that nobody borrowed, they purchase a two year license and if it isn't borrowed more than once or twice then no need to renew the license, spend the money on a license for a different book.
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Old 01-26-2013, 10:13 AM   #22
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Yes, but what happens in 50 years if someone comes to borrow a particular book that hasn't been for sale in decades? The file resides on the libarary server, but cannot be loaned since there isn't a license available, and that particular edition is not for sale.

Since you're from Sweden you are, presumably, familiar with Astrid Lindgrens Pippi Longstocking and the sencoring of the Lindgrens stories. For those not familiar with them, a short recap:
Pippi's father was originally a "negro king" (hope I'm not getting banned for using the N-word. It is not ment in desrespect), but that word has since then gained a negative assiciation that he is now referred to as "south sea king".

Pippi is of course not the only example of this. Disney is sencoring a lot of their films and cartoons from the thirties that they now regard as "unfit" for modern audience. Jews, blacks and other "funny characters" (seen with the humour of that era) frequently appears in stories of those days, but this is regarded as "unfit" today. Even Tintin is being pulled from the libraries accused of being both racist and gay.

Since the original books and cartoon prints are very rare, the only versions available are the sencored ones. This is where the libraries come into it as "knowledge reservoirs/repositories" with a responsibility for preserving the materials that are published for later use and future research.

I've gone many rounds with the library system here in Norway to get access to rare books and documents, and in some cases even had to go to the national library (travel through half the country!) to get access to books no more than a couple of decades old.

I sincearly hope for a system that will preserve electronic publications and allow the use of them since these are interesting subjects, and subjects that needs resarching to understand the past and our history
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Old 01-26-2013, 10:47 AM   #23
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There's more at stake here than "just" making books available to the library patrons. Preservation of books is just as important to a library, and books that "expires" in two years just doesn't make sence to a library. If a researcher comes to the library in fifty years and needs to access a particular edition of a book, there's no guarantee that the book is available. If Macmillan wants to withdraw the book and not sell it any more*, the libraries can not renew their license and all the available editions of this book is lost from the entire system.
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Yes, but what happens in 50 years if someone comes to borrow a particular book that hasn't been for sale in decades? The file resides on the libarary server, but cannot be loaned since there isn't a license available, and that particular edition is not for sale.
Excellent posts. Thanks much.
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Old 01-26-2013, 10:58 AM   #24
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... E-books actually makes it possible to store a book for all eternity and make it available in libraries long after it's out of print and long after the publisher have lost interest in the book, or banned it and refusing to sell it - what we need is a system that secures the book for the next generations, not a system that duplicates the problem of today with older books disappearing from the libraries, making them hard to get access to, and in some cases impossible to find. ...
Exactly. Ebooks would make it so simple to keep all titles available for future generations. If only everyone would stop trying to control them in a way to maximize their own profits and kill the the book for the future. What author wouldn't love to know that their book is still being read 200 years from now by future generations, or at least the possibility of it.
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Old 01-26-2013, 11:03 AM   #25
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Exactly. Ebooks would make it so simple to keep all titles available for future generations. If only everyone would stop trying to control them in a way to maximize their own profits and kill the the book for the future. What author wouldn't love to know that their book is still being read 200 years from now by future generations, or at least the possibility of it.
Well, with the exception that an author has every right to expect to make money (even maximize it) from their work.
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Old 01-26-2013, 11:08 AM   #26
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It really is bizarre. it seems nothing the BPHs do is ever good enough in the eyes of so many here. This seems like a decent deal. They weren't making books available at all before. Other publishers are selling at ridiculous prices that are five or six times the price for a paper copy. Others, based on what I've read, are selling with licences that expire after 26 borrowings. Twenty-five bucks for 50 borrowings seems quite reasonable. Stuff I've read from librarians say a best-seller will normally last about 50 borrowings before the paper version is too beat up to lend.
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Old 01-26-2013, 11:11 AM   #27
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I highly recommended Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore on another list - people were coming back saying that there were more than 50 holds in front of them for it. 52 borrowings won't see a popular book like this through the year. That can get awfully expensive for cash-strapped library systems.
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Old 01-26-2013, 11:23 AM   #28
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I'm not saying they should be given away for free or even a lesser price, I'm more than happy to pay a fair price. But paying more than a paperbook for an epub just makes zero sense.

The current system for hard cover books in our libraries and sales of all paper books has always made enough money for the authors and publishing houses. Why should the ebook model be any different and be designed to make libraries pay through the nose for ebooks when they could get the hard covers instead and avoid the price gouging and the hassles?

Yes, libraries want to please their users, but there comes a point where they just can't afford to do it the way the publishing houses want for ebooks. Libraries don't charge for borrowing books remember, they have no way to pass that cost onto consumers.
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Old 01-26-2013, 11:27 AM   #29
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...

The current system for hard cover books in our libraries and sales of all paper books has always made enough money for the authors and publishing houses. Why should the ebook model be any different and be designed to make libraries pay through the nose for ebooks when they could get the hard covers instead and avoid the price gouging and the hassles?

.....
Exactly! I agree 100%
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Old 01-26-2013, 12:09 PM   #30
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My take on the system was that libraries didn't need to pay for books that nobody borrowed, they purchase a two year license and if it isn't borrowed more than once or twice then no need to renew the license, spend the money on a license for a different book.
But the money spent is gone and they have nothing to show for it.
With pbooks, libraries can resell the unpopular/excess books and recoup some value in both money and goodwill.
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