Librarian by Day Bobbi Newman | I'm not that kind of librarian

Publishing Industry Forces OverDrive and Other Library eBook Vendors to Take a Giant Step Back

02.25.2011 · Posted in eBooks

Yesterday I received an email from OverDrive with an attachment titled “OverDrive Partner Library Update from Steve Potash”, I glanced at it and filed it away in my to-read pile for a later date (which honestly means I may never have gotten to it). This morning Heather Braum brought it to my attention via this post by Joe Atzberger.

The contents of this document are spun in a positive way and there are some great things coming from OverDrive, but in between the good news is some bad news, some really bad news.

The first bit – ownership of ebooks will now expire after a certain number of check outs to patrons. Libraries may no longer own them forever and ever.  This is unbelievable! And a HUGE step backwards in lending rights and library access.

The past several months have brought about dramatic changes for the print and eBook publishing and retail industries. Digital book sales are now a significant percentage of all publisher and author revenue. As a result several trade publishers are re-evaluating eBook licensing terms for library lending services. Publishers are expressing concern and debating their digital future where a single eBook license to a library may never expire, never wear out, and never need replacement.

OverDrive is advocating on behalf of your readers to have access to the widest catalog of the best copyrighted, premium materials, and lending options. To provide you with the best options, we have been required to accept and accommodate new terms for eBook lending as established by certain publishers. Next week, OverDrive will communicate a licensing change from a publisher that, while still operating under the one-copy/one-user model, will include a checkout limit for each eBook licensed. Under this publisher’s requirement, for every new eBook licensed, the library (and the OverDrive platform) will make the eBook available to one customer at a time until the total number of permitted checkouts is reached. This eBook lending condition will be required of all eBook vendors or distributors offering this publisher’s titles for library lending (not just OverDrive).

The second bit of bad news – publishers want to meddle in your library card policies.

In addition, our publishing partners have expressed concerns regarding the card issuance policies and qualification of patrons who have access to OverDrive supplied digital content. Addressing these concerns will require OverDrive and our library partners to cooperate to honor geographic and territorial rights for digital book lending, as well as to review and audit policies regarding an eBook borrower’s relationship to the library (i.e. customer lives, works, attends school in service area, etc.). I can assure you OverDrive is not interested in managing or having any say in your library policies and issues. Select publisher terms and conditions require us to work toward their comfort that the library eBook lending is in compliance with publisher requirements on these topics.

OverDrive Partner Library Update from Steve Potash (pdf)

Update 1:05pm EST: HarperCollins is the publisher that forced this issue. From Library Journal HarperCollins Puts 26 Loan Cap on Ebook Circulations

Update 3:45pm EST: If you wanna follow the outrage on Twitter the hashtag is #hcod

Update 3.1.2011 2:20 pm est A message from OverDrive on HarperCollins’ new eBook licensing terms – OverDrive publicly responds to the uproar.

Update 3.2.2011 5:45am esOpen Letter to Librarians a message from HarperCollins

Update 3.1.2011 6:00am EST I am no longer updating this page with links. I am still bookmarking all posts on delicious. You can find new links under the tag hcod, you can find new links related to the boycott under the tag hcodboycott.

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169 Responses to “Publishing Industry Forces OverDrive and Other Library eBook Vendors to Take a Giant Step Back”

  1. [...] to @librarianbyday on Twitter I found out about OverDrive’s partner update email. Then from @librarythingtim  on Twitter, I heard of HarperCollins limiting [...]

  2. [...] Publishing Industry Forces OverDrive and Other Library eBook Vendors to Take a Giant Step Back | Lib… (librarianbyday.net) [...]

  3. [...] See also. Do you want to help save libraries? Spread the word: [...]

  4. [...] and Twitterverse.  If you haven’t read up on it yet, check out Bobbi Newman’s blog post which sums up the issues well and links to many other blog posts and articles on the [...]

  5. Peter Atkinson says:

    This is just my opinion but I believe that a boycott is a mistake. From the publisher’s perspective, if we stop buying their books, people will have no choice but to buy books which is exactly what they want.

    • Barbara Henry says:

      So, on March 7 libraries should just keep buying? How about “due to budget constraints, HarperCollins ebook purchases are no longer a high priority at our library. If there is money left, maybe we will consider purchase. We cannot afford to purchase at full price an ebook that will disappear after 26 check outs.” If boycott is too strong a word perhaps you can tone it down by calling it a “No Buy Zone” and delay your purchase indefinitely. I think a “business as usual” approach is a mistake.

      • Peter Atkinson says:

        Again, in my opinion, NOT buying is a mistake. We need to engage them in another way. We have two fundamentally different goals. Ours is the greater good, theirs is profit. We can be technically right or morally right and it’s irrelevant to a corporation; they are legally obligated to maximise profit. If we can show that free digital content drives sales of paid content, then this issue will disappear and you’ll see the relationship with publishers bloom. Unfortunately right now I think that’s a mixed bag; yes for films, yes for some musical groups, no for digital music in general.

      • Barbara Henry says:

        I guess each library or consortia will decide what is good for their library, their collection and their users. And whether or not purchasing ebooks from HC is a good financial decision for their shrinking budgets. It is hard to imagine a library spending lots of money on an ebook that will disappear after 26 circs. We definitely do not want a bunch of hysterical, irrational, angry librarians rampaging in the streets.

    • Peter – I’m in agreement with you. At this time I do not think that a boycott is the best course of action. I worry it makes us look hysterical and irrational. Not the image you want to take to the negotiation table.

      There may be a point in the future where a boycott becomes necessary to make a statement but that time is not now.

      • Peter Atkinson says:

        Thanks Bobbi. I sincerely appreciate that. I agree with Barbara that we need leadership from our state/provincial/national associations. If data shows e-books in libraries drive book sales this is a no-brainer but if not, publishers will believe that they benefit from a boycott by libraries – but maybe not from the public. That highlights that longer term libraries need a really clearly defined brand. That will make these big issues that we wrestle with individually so much easier to deal with.

      • Barbara Henry says:

        “I worry it makes us look hysterical and irrational. Not the image you want to take to the negotiation table.”

        Interesting choice of words.

      • Peter Atkinson says:

        Here’s why this is happening:

        http://www.publishers.org/main/PressCenter/Archicves/2011_Feb/DecemberStatsPressRelease.htm

        You can read this two ways. 1) They’re moving to squeeze more revenue out of the faster-growing ebooks channel 2) The growth of ebooks hasn’t affected total sales. Now if only we had someone to have that discussion with publishers for us.

  6. [...] in reading more? This post from Librarian By Day includes a lineup of [...]

  7. [...] By Day (http://librarianbyday.net/2011/02/25/publishing-industry-forces-overdrive-and-other-library-ebook-ve…) explains the issue well.  The quote below is from a letter sent by OverDrive to their customers: [...]

  8. [...] Conversations about this have popped up on Twitter, Facebook and in the comments of my original post about the HarperCollines Fiasco, so  I thought I’d provide a venue for discussion just about this [...]

  9. [...] the #hcod debate has continued to grow, many concerned librarians, authors, and readers are beginning to move from discussion to direct [...]

  10. [...] area, etc.)”, and there are further issues relating to library consortia. [Much more at Librarian by Day, Librarian In Black, and David Lee [...]

  11. [...] This show was taped Friday in the opening hours of the Harper Collins E-Book announcement and reflects immediate opinion and reaction from the callers.  Start your inquiry here at Bobbi’s post which is has been constantly updated. Publishing Industry Forces OverDrive and Other Library eBook Vendors to Take a Giant Step Back [...]

  12. [...] and the library will need to purchase a new copy. A New York Times blog ran a piece on it and Bobbi Newman (Librarian-by-Day) has an excellent digest of the conversation. It has certainly stirred a hornet’s nest, but it remains to be seen [...]

  13. [...] the book. This set off the library community. There are a lot of blog posts on this (there’s a good roundup of them at Librarian By Day). There are also a plethora of tweets under the #hcod [...]

  14. [...] course everyone and their mother is talking about e-content nowadays, especially in the wake of the Harper Collins/OverDrive upset. After squawking about it enough in my “trends” portion of month-end reports, I was [...]

  15. [...] and their supporters are understandably upset, with a variety of posts on BoingBoing, Librarian By Day, Dear Author, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, Literary Sluts, TechDirt, and many [...]

  16. RT @librarianbyday: brief overview of the HarperCollins #ebooks fiasco with links resources #hcod http://bit.ly/hO99z9

  17. Peter Atkinson says:

    Here’s why this is happening:

    http://www.publishers.org/main/PressCenter/Archicves/2011_Feb/DecemberStatsPressRelease.htm

    You can read this two ways. 1) They’re moving to squeeze more revenue out of the faster-growing ebooks channel 2) The growth of ebooks hasn’t affected total sales. Now if only we had someone to have that discussion with publishers for us.

  18. RT @wawoodworth: @thatkevinsmith Lolbrarian context for @mkisstacked's tweet: http://bit.ly/ea0whh (tldr: publisher beating up on libraries)

  19. @switkowski Stupid innit. Here's some links about it Lots of links for HarperCollinsgate stories http://ow.ly/45pe8 http://ow.ly/1byIlD

  20. [...] Publishing Industry Forces OverDrive and Other Library eBook Vendors to Take a Giant Step Back (includes links to multiple posts from librarians on the subject) Bobbi L. Newman [...]

  21. Should libraries be able to buy an eBook once then distribute forever? http://t.co/kVt9oNE

  22. Publishing Industry Forces OverDrive and Other Library eBook Vendors to Take a Giant Step Back http://t.co/Ye88NKi

  23. Blog post from @librarianbyday has lots of links to read to learn about the uproar over the library e-book limit: http://bit.ly/eB5mCP

  24. [...] which libraries can license their books on Overdrive. If you haven’t read about it already, here’s some background info. I’m not particularly up-in-arms about what Harper Collins did; I’m far more concerned [...]

  25. [...] Publishing Industry Forces OverDrive and Other Library eBook Vendors to Take a Giant Step Back by Librarian by Day [...]

  26. [...] few readers sent me links to this story about OverDrive and it’s also appearing on numerous blogs. To get caught up, just follow the aforenoted link [...]

  27. [...] by Day - Publishing Industry Forces OverDrive and Other Library eBook Vendors to Take a Giant Step Back [...]

  28. One more resource for the bibliography: The Readers’ Bill of Rights for Digital Books: http://readersbillofrights.info/

    It’s a website and a project that we have been working on for a while now, out of an interest to preserve the right to read in electronic format. We’ll be presenting at ACRL on April 1st, and we plan to cover many of the issues discussed here, as well as how this situation is akin to other movements (F/OSS, etc.). http://www.goeshow.com/acrl/national/2011/profile.cfm?profile_name=session&master_key=24DE61D0-D609-A648-27F3-857405A3C05C&page_key=558E302F-DDE0-40D3-8D24-C1CC650F9288&xtemplate&userLGNKEY=0

  29. Publishing Industry Forces OverDrive and Other Library eBook Vendors to Take a Giant Step Back – http://bit.ly/gOGTbO

  30. [...] limit on the number of times their e-books can be borrowed, before they need to be re-purchased. (A fuller explanation can be read here on LibrarybyDay, including links to a whole bunch of articles on the [...]

  31. [...] are, not surprisingly, up in arms over the announcement. (You can follow the hashtag #hocd hashtag on [...]

  32. I smelled this coming from a mile away. The introduction or large numbers of ebook readers, ipads, iphones and ipodsbeing sold in the market place today was a big sign of things to come. Having printed materials converted to electronic/virtual materials was just a another way for these publishing companies and writers to exploit the readers for thier every dollars and cents. The best way to combat this activity is to have many underground or so-called street writers willing to provide thier content for free to libraries, and their readers, and who are willing to sue writers of this guild for copyright infringement.

    • The writers don’t decide the terms of sale to libraries or to individuals. Even the biggest bestsellers simply don’t have that much power. Very popular and tech-savvy writers often find themselves unhappy with the limitations imposed on digital sales by the publishers.

      My head is spinning, frankly, at the idea of suing the owner of the copyright for copyright infringement, in any case. On what grounds?

      And if you want to stock your library with the works of “underground or so-called street writers willing to provide their content for free”–good luck with that. You’ll quickly find out what the real service is that publishers provide to readers and to libraries. It’s not distribution. It’s selection and editing. If you’ve never read slush, you have no idea what first readers at publishing houses are saving you the experience of wading through. Not that you won’t find gems, too–you will–but in finding them, we’d have no more time to do the rest of our jobs.

      Refusing to buy ebooks on terms that are just not viable for libraries, as Pioneer is doing, is one thing, and I strongly support it. Having hysterical fits, blaming parties who have little influence and no control over the situation (writers), and threatening lawsuits for copyright infringements because you can’t buy the works you want on terms you like–not so much.

  33. For links to these and an overview of the issue, go here: http://bit.ly/ea0whh

  34. [...] been following the #hcod debate with fascination and frustration. I love seeing so many people contributing to the conversation, but I am disheartened to hear people say things like, “we need a seat at [...]

  35. [...] the title says, this is not going to be a blog post about the HC-Overdrive-ebooks-librarians kerfluffle.  (But it does have a Doctor Who joke in the title!)  My one solution to the whole mess is a good [...]

  36. [...] open letters from OverDrive and HarperCollins. There has been a call for a boycott. Bobbi Newman, one of the first to jump on the story, is maintaining a list of news articles and [...]

  37. @realjohngreen not sure if you and nerdfighteria know about this yet? http://dft.ba/-f4c harpercollins strangling library e-book access :(

  38. [...] that has caused quite an uproar. Check out Bobbi L. Newman’s comprehensive post, “Publishing Industry Forces OverDrive and Other Library eBook Vendors to Take a Giant Step Back,” for the whole story, including an amazing variety of links to other posts and articles, [...]

  39. [...] collections. There have been some fantastic responses (not to mention some fantastic efforts to gather them all), and each day shows that our understanding of the issue is continuing to [...]

  40. [...] themselves can potentially understand. I won’t enumerate the changes, many others have done that. What I will say is that I feel [...]

  41. [...] Zusammen mit DeepDyve und dem “Ausleih”-Konzept der Onleihe ist dies der verschrobenste Ansatz im E-Book-Bereich, die mir bislang untergekommen ist. In Netbib finden sich Hinweise auf viele weitere Quellen, zum Beispiel dieses Posting (mit zahlreichen Kommentaren) von Librarian by Day. [...]

  42. [...] of them none would get read. The list is that long. Bobbi Newman has done a great job of keeping a list of the posts. I’ve created a short list of more of my [...]

  43. [...] discussion and information about the impact of this policy.  You can find that discussion at http://librarianbyday.net/2011/02/25/publishing-industry-forces-overdrive-and-other-library-ebook-ve… I encourage everyone who is interested in ebooks as a library service to explore this [...]

  44. [...] The section of the note he’s referring to states (via Librarian by Day): [...]

  45. [...] just going to give a few links for further reading: O’Reilly Radar Publishing News; the Librarian by Day; Free Range Librarian; Peter Bromberg (whose post pretty much sums up many of my own thoughts on [...]

  46. [...] the tidal wave of talk about eBooks this past week, there has been a good amount of writing about the reader and how these changes would affect them [...]

  47. [...] the tidal wave of talk about eBooks this past week, there has been a good amount of writing about the reader and how these changes would affect them [...]

  48. [...] I’ll also suggest this SBTB post on the same issue, and Bobbi Newman’s Librarian by Day post with a link to a PDF of the original Overdrive [...]

  49. [...] after the Harper Collins Incident of the last couple of weeks, I thought it would be interesting to see, based on my library, what [...]

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