The Free Library of Philadelphia no longer offers paid-access cards


It may be the first example of fallout from Macmillan’s ebook embargo and other traditional publishers tightening of licensing for ebooks and audiobooks. Today, The Free Library of Philadelphia (FLP) sent an email to out-of-area fee card patrons letting them know that they will no longer be offing paid-access cards, effective November 1, 2019.

Here is the email I received:

Dear Customer:

In order to focus its efforts and resources on customers in its direct service area, the Free Library will no longer offer paid-access cards.

Your paid-access card will remain valid and usable for the duration of the term for which you paid. At the end of that term, you will no longer be able to access the Free Library’s resources, and you will be unable to renew your card for a further term.

Thank you for your understanding!

Several thing things stand out about this email. Note the words “In order to focus its efforts and resources on customers in its direct service area”. Also note the date, November 1st, which is the day Macmillan’s new ebook terms take effect for libraries. Interestingly, the change was NOT mentioned in the library’s community newsletter for November.

I have to admit, I expected that we would start seeing this happen. Macmillan’s embargo, along with publishers ending perpetual licencing for ebooks and audiobooks is artificially creating a scarcity for these materials. In order for libraries to ensure that residents in their local communities have access to materials, libraries are going to have to make hard decisions about the number of patrons their budgets allow them to serve. It makes sense that libraries will act to ensure access to the taxpayers who are directly funding services. (I just did not expect this to happen quite this soon!)

This is going to make it difficult for users such as myself who rely on paid access cards to supplement local libraries that have poor ebook selections and long waiting lists. A few numbers for comparison: My city library offers a total of 1,891 ebook and audiobook titles in its Overdrive collection. The Free Library of Philadelphia, on the other hand, offers 24,000 digital titles in its Overdrive collection. In 2018, The FLP loaned 449,547 eBooks (adult and children’s) and 69,208
digital audiobooks. (Note that the FLP annual report does not break out fee card access numbers separately.)

This change by the FLP will probably impact a large number of ebook library patrons. Back in 2007-2008 when the first generation Kindles became popular, the Free Library was one of the first libraries to offer ebooks to non-residents. KIndle users spread the word and the library became a very popular option for avid readers, especially among seniors and those who need the font scaling options that ebooks provide.

If you haven’t already, please visit the ALA’s #ebooksforall site to learn more about what publishers are doing to prevent libraries from offering ebook access for everyone and sign the ALA’s petition while you are there. There will be a lot more stories like this in the future unless we act to make sure that ebooks are freely available in libraries.

For Digital First Sale, It’s Still 2001

Great post on this topic! This is why, unfortunately, I can’t foresee a used ebook or music market evolving.

Copyright and Technology

Seventeen years ago, the U.S. Copyright Office — Congress’s official advisor on copyright issues — published an opinion for Congress on whether there should be a first sale right for digital content: a right for consumers to alienate (sell, lend, rent, or give away) digital files, like the one that exists for physical items like books, CDs, and DVDs. In the so-called Section 104 Report, the Copyright Office considered the idea that digital first sale could be supported with a “forward-and-delete” mechanism that ensures that if you send a digital file to someone, the file no longer exists on your device.

The Copyright Office said:

… unless a ‘forward-and-delete’ technology is employed, transfer of a copy by transmission requires an additional affirmative act by the sender. In applying a digital first sale doctrine as a defense to infringement it would be difficult to prove or disprove whether that act had…

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Amazon again allowing gifting of Kindle Unlimited

In early December this year, I wrote about the fact that Amazon had removed the ability to give gift subscriptions to its all-you-can-eat style subscription service, Kindle Unlimited.Those of us who liked to give (or get) subscriptions to the service were more than a little upset by the move.

I don’t know if it is because Amazon listened to those who complained, but there is now a special gift page for Kindle Unlimited. You can only buy the gift for a period of one year (formerly, you had your choice of 3, 6, 12 and 24 month subscriptions) The price, normally $119.88 is $80.31, a savings of 33% off the regular 12 month price.

There is no indication yet whether this is a permanent promotion or simply one geared towards Christmas and Holiday gift giving. I, for one, am taking advantage of it while I can. Unfortunately, my former 12 month subscription expired in mid-December and had already renewed for one month.

Kindle Unlimited features unlimited access to over a million titles, and includes audiobooks. Kindle Unlimited books can be read on any Kindle device, including apps, ereaders and tablets.

Update. The links are somewhat wonky. If you are having a hard time finding the correct link for gift subscriptions, try the KU help page here.

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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Hoopla Digital and HarperCollins Disrupt Library E-Lending

As much as I would like to be able to read any library ebook without waiting, this model has some sobering implications for library finances. I have read more than a few stories about libraries having to limit Hoopla downloads for patrons mid-month because of the effect of unexpectedly high usage by patrons on the budget.

What do you think of the idea?

Copyright and Technology

An announcement this week by hoopla digital and HarperCollins augurs big changes in the ways that public libraries make e-books available. It sets the stage for realignment of the relationships between publishers and libraries, and it could have longer-term ripple effects on the entire e-book market.

For more than a decade, public libraries have been able to “lend” e-books using a certain model: the library “acquires” a title through an e-lending platform such as OverDrive; the library then has one “copy” that it can make available to patrons at a time. The platform sends each patron a DRM-protected file that allows reading for up to the library’s lending period. If one patron has the e-book “checked out” then another patron can’t read it until the period expires or the first patron “returns” it.

The library technologist Eric Hellman calls this model “Pretend It’s Print (PIP),” while the industry term…

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It is National Library Week!

This week, April 9-15, is National Library Week. This year’s theme is Libraries Transform. The theme celebrates the shifting focus of libraries. The modern library is no longer just about having books, periodicals, or music music available for patrons; modern libraries are increasingly more about doing things for and with people and a greater role as a community shared space.

The official hashtags for the week are #NationalLibraryWeek and #LibrariesTransform. There are also official “I Love Libraries” accounts to follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Just a few of the highlight events for the National Library Week:

Monday, April 10, 2017, the Top Ten List of Most Challenged Books for 2016 will be released in the ALA 2017 State of America’s Library Report.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 is National Library Workers Day, a day to celebrate the contributions of library workers.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 is National Bookmobile Day. The days celebrates bookmobiles and the community outreach done by the awesome professionals who work with bookmobile programs.

Thursday, April 13, 2017 is Take Action for Libraries Day. Libraries will be asking for help to save federal funding for libraries.

During the entire week, there is also an Expert in the Library Promotion. Give a shout out on social media and let the world know what your librarian is an expert in. Use the “hashtag #expertinthelibrary and  and post between Saturday, April 8 at noon CT and Saturday, April 15 at noon CT for a chance to win the $100 Visa gift card.” (More details here.)

You and find graphics, details and more information at the I Love Libraries and ALA websites.

Here on the Ebook Evangelist, we’ll be celebrating with a series of posts focusing on libraries and ebooks. 🙂

Daily Links and Deals: Digital libraries won’t make regular ones obsolete

daily_links_1Daily Links for Thursday, November 3,  2016:

This Chrome extension saves you from default email app horror (The Next Web) Applemail users, this Chrome extension is for you. No more mailto: issues.

Digital libraries won’t make regular ones obsolete (Geektime) How physical and digital books can co-exist in library space.

Sudo lets you change your online identities as easily as flipping a switch (Techcrunch) I manage several business related accounts and being able to switch identities like this would make the job a lot easier.

There’s now one less excuse not to use a password manager (The Verge) LastPass is now free across multiple devices.

OverDrive to Donate Popular Ebooks to 1,000 Elementary Schools (Digital Book World) Overdrive partners with several publisher to donate books for Title-1 programs.

Deals of the Day:

Amazon’s selection of Kindle Daily Deals includes Moonstruck Madness (Dominick Trilogy Book 1) by Laurie McBain.

In Today’s Deals, 60% off luggage and travel gear.

It is also the last day for $20 off select Kindles.

The Barnes and Noble Nook Daily Find is Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris. The Romance Daily Find is The Sweet By and By by Sara Evans, Rachel Hauck.

Barnes and Noble also has a selection of NOOK Books Under $2.99.

Kobo’s Daily Deal is also Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris.The Extra Daily Deal is From Longbourn to Pemberley, The First Year A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Elizabeth Ann West.

There is also a selection of Great Reads Under $5 and Bargain Reads in Fiction, in Mystery and other genres. The Kobo Aura One (and the Aura Edition 2 e-readers are now available for order at the Kobo store. (The Aura One is out of stock.)

iTunes’ Weekly Bestsellers Under $4 includes This Is a Book by Demetri Martin.

Google Books has a selection of humor books on sale.

(A note on Daily Deals: All prices current at the time of posting and subject to change. Most items marked Daily Deals are good for only the day posted.

Many large promotions have discount pricing that is set by the publisher. This usually means that titles can be found at a discount price across most platforms (with iTunes sometimes being the exception). If you have a favorite retailer you like to patronize, check the title on that website. There is a good chance that they will be matching the sale price.)

Daily Links are interesting links I discover as I go about my online day. The frequency and number of links posted depend upon the daily news. I also post other, different links of interest on Twitter, Facebook, and on the Google Plus eBook Evangelist Page.