HarperCollins publisher announced a week ago that it was changing its sales restrictions to libraries that loan e-books. Previously, when we libraries purchased HarperCollins e-books, that e-copy could be checked out an unlimited number of times. As of today, that is changing: any HarperCollins e-book that we purchase may be checked out only 26 times before the license expires. Additional copies will have to be purchased before they can be made available for library customers to check out, possibly at a lower price. This change has caused a considerable amount of commotion in the library world because of the potential impact on this popular service, particularly since many libraries are coping with reduced budgets. Recent HarperCollins bestsellers include Justin Halpern’s Sh*t My Dad Says and Sarah Palin’s America By Heart.
The Free Library “owns” a number of HarperCollins e-books whose circulation numbers exceed 26 times. Other publishers are undoubtedly watching this situation unfold and debating whether or not to limit its e-book sales to libraries. At the Free Library, on a temporary basis, we will not purchase new HarperCollins titles until we have more information on how HarperCollins and our vendor (OverDrive) will implement this change and until we know what the pricing structure will be for additional copies once the 26 number has been reached. We are also joining discussions with HarperCollins to offer other possible options as we all attempt to figure out this new landscape. If you’d like additional information, this recent New York Times article is a brief summary of both perspectives: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/27/a-limit-on-lending-e-books/?scp=1&sq=HarperCollins&st=cse
What are your thoughts about e-books and publisher limitations? Join the discussion!