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Old 09-14-2018, 08:51 PM   #16
darryl
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I think we need to look at the very substantial changes in the industry to make a really informed guess about what is driving this change. Based on Author Earnings (which is sadly missed) and various other sources it seems that the sales "profile" for new books is very different from what it once was. In the past, virtually all books would make just about all the sales they were ever going to make in the few years after initial release. Now, of course, books can continue to make sales potentially for the life of the copyright. And they never go out of "print". Apparently even best selling books are selling less in this initial period than they once did. One possible explanation is that many readers are still buying these books but later. Traditional publishers have an excellent asset in their backlists. Whilst books were going out of print never to be seen again with all sales in that first print run, publishers had little problem with granting perpetual licences. But now the books remain out there, available for people to read and buy. And not in second hand bookshops where the publisher gets no revenue from the sale. On websites from Amazon on down. Whether or not they receive any publicity they are still there. People can discover them in many ways, from searches or browsing or recommendations, and for many books will from time to time. And, of course, as old readers are replaced by new, the old books are also new to new readers. I expect that even some relatively obscure genre fiction books will have periodic revivals in sales as they are discovered by a new generation of readers. All it takes is one new young reader to come across it, love it and spread the word. When these new readers search for something to read in the particular sub-genre they like, come across a prehistoric book from 2018 which looks interesting and search in the library they are not going to find it. But they will still be able to buy it.

If you are a publisher and want to make money in the future from your back-list granting perpetual licences is probably not the best way to go.
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Old 09-15-2018, 05:36 AM   #17
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I think we need to look at the very substantial changes in the industry to make a really informed guess about what is driving this change. Based on Author Earnings (which is sadly missed) and various other sources it seems that the sales "profile" for new books is very different from what it once was. In the past, virtually all books would make just about all the sales they were ever going to make in the few years after initial release. Now, of course, books can continue to make sales potentially for the life of the copyright. And they never go out of "print". Apparently even best selling books are selling less in this initial period than they once did. One possible explanation is that many readers are still buying these books but later. Traditional publishers have an excellent asset in their backlists. Whilst books were going out of print never to be seen again with all sales in that first print run, publishers had little problem with granting perpetual licences. But now the books remain out there, available for people to read and buy. And not in second hand bookshops where the publisher gets no revenue from the sale. On websites from Amazon on down. Whether or not they receive any publicity they are still there. People can discover them in many ways, from searches or browsing or recommendations, and for many books will from time to time. And, of course, as old readers are replaced by new, the old books are also new to new readers. I expect that even some relatively obscure genre fiction books will have periodic revivals in sales as they are discovered by a new generation of readers. All it takes is one new young reader to come across it, love it and spread the word. When these new readers search for something to read in the particular sub-genre they like, come across a prehistoric book from 2018 which looks interesting and search in the library they are not going to find it. But they will still be able to buy it.

If you are a publisher and want to make money in the future from your back-list granting perpetual licences is probably not the best way to go.
I suspect you are quite right when it comes to ebooks. I suspect that paper books have the same issue as before, i.e. no one is going to warehouse and pay inventory taxes on paper books past the initial release, unless the book is a steady seller, but ebooks (and audio books) don't have that issue.

I do wonder if this might cause some unintentional consequences. This pretty much defeats the purpose of lending libraries. Here in the US, I can see the potential of a fair use exemption being put into place or at least being talked about. It will really come down to if some politician gets a bee in his or her bonnet over the issue.
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Old 09-15-2018, 05:59 AM   #18
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@pwalker8. I suspect most ebooks will be available in print versions by way of POD. Certainly it is in the interests of Publishers to see that this happens. Of course, the prices will be higher or the margin less. If a book becomes popular years later we can only guess what effect it would have. Libraries may or may not choose to take ont a new license. Publishers may or may not do another print run, depending on the state of physical book stores at the time. If an older book starts trending again online I doubt a physical store would wish to be without stock. From what I understand the current POD machines in the physical book stores that have them would not be able to cope with significant demand. I expect some books may well be re-printed with a little promotion thrown behind them.

For the large publishers it is all about monetising their backlists effectively. They can't do that very well with copies floating around under perpetual licenses. And with past best sellers libraries may have a lot of licenses for an old title. EBooks don't suffer from losses or theft or wear and tear.

I'm not clear if you are using fair use in the traditional sense here. If so, it seems to me such an exemption would not be of any help. Or are you using the term in some other sense?

ADDENDUM:
This is not good for libraries at all. When you combine this with Amazon not offering its books to libraries at all, some legislative intervention may become an issue in the future. What shape that may take is anyone's guess at the moment.

Last edited by darryl; 09-15-2018 at 06:05 AM.
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Old 09-15-2018, 11:36 AM   #19
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Physical book's cost is in space often in short supply at libraries.
And many libraries buy multiple copies of popular genre books as consumable paperbacks which would likely be only fit for recycling in two years. My library doesn't even bother fully cataloging many such paperbacks (which is annoying when I'm trying to find the generic 'children's paperback' one of my children has lost).

[It's partly solved the space problem by having a warehouse for books deemed worth keeping that are not often checked out. Patrons can put such books on hold and receive them within the week.]
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Old 09-15-2018, 12:45 PM   #20
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@pwalker8. I suspect most ebooks will be available in print versions by way of POD. Certainly it is in the interests of Publishers to see that this happens. Of course, the prices will be higher or the margin less. If a book becomes popular years later we can only guess what effect it would have. Libraries may or may not choose to take ont a new license. Publishers may or may not do another print run, depending on the state of physical book stores at the time. If an older book starts trending again online I doubt a physical store would wish to be without stock. From what I understand the current POD machines in the physical book stores that have them would not be able to cope with significant demand. I expect some books may well be re-printed with a little promotion thrown behind them.

For the large publishers it is all about monetising their backlists effectively. They can't do that very well with copies floating around under perpetual licenses. And with past best sellers libraries may have a lot of licenses for an old title. EBooks don't suffer from losses or theft or wear and tear.

I'm not clear if you are using fair use in the traditional sense here. If so, it seems to me such an exemption would not be of any help. Or are you using the term in some other sense?

ADDENDUM:
This is not good for libraries at all. When you combine this with Amazon not offering its books to libraries at all, some legislative intervention may become an issue in the future. What shape that may take is anyone's guess at the moment.
Under US law, the copyright office has the right to declare certain uses fair use exceptions. It is at least theoretically possible for the copyright office in the US to declare ebook lending in public libraries as a fair use exemption. I don't consider it likely, but stranger things have happened.
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Old 09-15-2018, 07:23 PM   #21
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Physical book's cost is in space often in short supply at libraries.
And also in wearing out. I remember it was mentioned somewhere that on average a pbook has to be replaced after 26 borrows due to too much wear and tear.
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Old 09-15-2018, 09:01 PM   #22
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It is at least theoretically possible for the copyright office in the US to declare ebook lending in public libraries as a fair use exemption. I don't consider it likely, but stranger things have happened.
Interesting. I would have thought not. Publishers would be up in arms! I'd appreciate it if you would post any links about the possible basis for such a declaration?
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Old 09-16-2018, 04:30 PM   #23
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Look at sections 107 and 108, the fair use and Reproduction by Libraries and archives sections.

https://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#107

In addition there is the DMCA to be considered. Every 3 years, the US copyrights office considers adding exceptions to the restrictions provided by the DMCA.

https://www.eff.org/issues/dmca-rulemaking

It is at least theoretically possible for the US Copyright office to grant libraries an exemption both of copyright violation and bypassing the DRM via a DMCA exemption.

The US has long granted very broad exemptions to libraries, researchers and teachers.
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Old 09-17-2018, 11:44 AM   #24
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Physical book's cost is in space often in short supply at libraries.
This is true, but at least there isn't a licensing cost to pay over and over again. It makes it likely that a library will keep at least one copy... or if they don't, someone in their intra-library loan network will.

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And also in wearing out. I remember it was mentioned somewhere that on average a pbook has to be replaced after 26 borrows due to too much wear and tear.
No, that's what some publishers have decided is the lifetime of a physical book at a library. There is an informative and entertaining video by a couple of librarians on the topic.
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Old 09-17-2018, 03:42 PM   #25
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This is true, but at least there isn't a licensing cost to pay over and over again. It makes it likely that a library will keep at least one copy... or if they don't, someone in their intra-library loan network will.

No, that's what some publishers have decided is the lifetime of a physical book at a library. There is an informative and entertaining video by a couple of librarians on the topic.
Great video
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Old 09-19-2018, 04:03 PM   #26
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No, that's what some publishers have decided is the lifetime of a physical book at a library. There is an informative and entertaining video by a couple of librarians on the topic.
I am sure the publishers had an interest to conduct their "studies" to justify the 26 average. If you select the right data and extrapolate you can make anything happen with statistics. Even the video is flawed in that aspect as the five books may just be exceptionally well treated books. It would be more meaningful to look at the last xx amount of books (e.g. 100) that were beyond repairing and see how many checkouts they had.
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Old 09-19-2018, 04:39 PM   #27
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I also wonder if the '26' figure doesn't also include books that weren't checked out very much, so were purged for that reason. They would drag down the average number of checkouts per book.
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