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. [...] situation, mainly because what I have to say is negative, and doesn’t add much to what others already said. But I noticed a couple things in the last few days that I wanted to [...]

  2. [...] this was a widely discussed issue among librarians, so if you’d like to read some of that, the links provided here are a great place to start (and Bobbi has continued to update Delicious with additional links of [...]

  3. [...] and there are further issues relating to library consortia. [Much more at Librarian by Day, Librarian In Black, and David Lee [...]

  4. [...] posts about the nature of print and digital materials. We’ve had numbers run. We’ve had roundups of posts. We’ve had discussions of the news and the reactions and the posts and discussions [...]

  5. [...] Overdrive limit library lending of licensed ebooks to 26, Twitterified as #hcod), largely because other smart people are talking about it more smartly than I can, and I knew that, left to their own devices, someone would say what I was thinking better than I [...]

  6. [...] there was another bombshell that went with the limited eBook checkouts. I’ll quote the blurb on Bobbi Newman’s post and keep the emphasis that she added: In addition, our publishing partners have expressed concerns [...]

  7. [...] there was another bombshell that went with the limited eBook checkouts. I’ll quote the blurb on Bobbi Newman’s post and keep the emphasis that she added: In addition, our publishing partners have expressed concerns [...]

  8. [...] let’s get on it anyway. The longer libraries wait, the more likely they are to end up with a fourth-rate product with labyrinthine agreements that encourage our patrons to laugh at the idea that we’re “information [...]

  9. What HarperCollins is doing is letting us know what they think an ebook is REALLY worth. As a writer/publisher, I’ve adjusted my prices accordingly:

  10. [...] an increased share of my book business. (Oops, unless of course I’m that 27th borrower of a HarperCollins title – not going there [...]

  11. [...] in case you hadn’t heard, there’s been a kerfluffle about DRM (Digital Rights Management) and the stance that HarperCollins is taking with [...]

  12. [...] Publishing Industry Forces OverDrive and Other Library eBook Vendors to Take a Giant Step Back Bobbi L. Newman [...]

  13. @Sargent is the comprehensive overview of the issue

  14. [...] Newman, at Librarian by Day, has put together a collection of links to what librarians have written about this [...]

  15. [...] Day Against DRM: May 4th – given the uproar against HarperCollins how can librarians [...]

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

  17. Seems a bit ridiculous that libraries are limiting the use of eBooks. I can somewhat understand that you shouldn’t just be able to go out and get as many books on your Nook or Kindle as you want from the library and never have to return it (borders on piracy at that point, doesn’t it?) but charging the full price of a book for a digital rental is a bit absurd.

    • You are confused. It’s not the libraries that want to do this. It’s the PUBLISHER, HarperCollins, that has decided to limit libraries’ rights to the ebooks they “buy,” and force them to re-”buy” the ebook again after 26 loans.

      No one has suggested that libraries charge borrowers the full price of the book or anything close to it for a loan. Some people have suggested $1-$2 per loan, but even that hasn’t been a popular idea.

  18. I agree to an extent that publishers should be able to charge a small fee per e-book checked out. It’s in some way better for our economy than a regular library as long as the books are good. Of course if the books are not good there should be an easy way to rate the book so that the library wont waste money on repurchasing rights to a specific e-book.

    These changes in the publishing industry will change so many things from libraries, to self publishing, to the rise in cost of paper books. It will be very interesting to see how the publishing industry will change in the next decade or two. Hopefully there will be many positive changes as time moves on

    • Actually you’re wrong about the economy. Studies show that library book borrowing actually increases book sales so there is no need for the fee-per-checkout-model based on your reasoning. Also who decides if a book is “good” libraries are about equal access and opportunity, were responsible for providing all types of material even those we don’t agree with or deem “good”

  19. [...] short, as information professionals, during the whole HarperCollins and OverDrive debate, did we learn [...]

  20. [...] from Simon and Schuster or MacMillian or new books from Penguin or Hatchet, and not more than 26 times from HarperCollins, and probably not many books from Random House. What we can do, what maybe we should do, is spend [...]

  21. [...] 我知道你们要说什么,我甚至能听到你们说的话——“我们不能这样做!我们的读者需要电子书!”但另一方面,我们的读者需要的很多东西我们都没办法给他们,比如永远都能最先借到James Patterson的新书、书过期了也不用交罚款、图书馆更早开门更晚关门、或者不再使用杜威分类法——因为终其一生,读者也搞不明白这些数字是什么意思。说起电子书,我们没办法提供他们想要的,或者说,我们没办法给他们提供Simon and Schuster或者MacMillan的电子书、我们没办法提供Penguin或者是Hatchet的新书、我们没办法把HarperCollins的电子书借出26次以上、我们也没办法提供给他们很多Random House的电子书,因为我们买不起那么多。我们能做的,或者可能我们应当做的,是明智的使用他们交的税,而且我当下觉得,把这些钱花在现在这个电子书系统上并不明智。 [...]

  22. [...] and the company that Penguin is contracted with–acknowledged in a letter (PDF) posted on blog Librarian by Day to the company’s library partners earlier this year that some publishers (not just Penguin!) [...]

  23. [...] and spearheading new technologies.  There has also been a lot of animosity recently between libraries, publishers and retail [...]

  24. [...] Digital Rights Management (DRM) services mostly for libraries, to make sure that libraries are only issuing library cards to people in their geographic jurisdiction.  It sounds like they want to include a geographic limit to each eBook license.  I can kind of [...]

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