Libraries: Be Careful What You Wish For

Here’s an interesting followup by Bill Rosenblatt from the Copyright and Technology Blog on the new cost-per-circulation model and the potential consequences for libraries. While I love having access to ebooks through libraries, I think that it is important to keep in mind that our taxpayer dollars are paying for these services. We need to pay attention to the conversation and encourage choices that will support long-term access for everyone.

Copyright and Technology

Last week we discussed the new “cost-per-circulation” (CPC) model for public libraries — in which they can make e-books available to patrons and pay the publisher per “loan” instead of paying fixed fees to “acquire” titles as if they were print books (the “pretend it’s print” or PIP model). HarperCollins has just become the first major trade house to license its titles to libraries under the CPC model, and a growing number of library e-book platforms now support it.

This is a major shift in public library e-book distribution, and I explained last week, it’s great for library patrons… in theory. Yet as I’ve heard from several people who use CPC-supporting libraries since last week, the reality is that CPC merely replaces one set of limitations on e-book availability with another. The CPC model may end up giving publishers more control over the titles that libraries…

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