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Over the past week or so, we’ve been talking quite a lot about libraries and their ongoing troubles with ebooks. At this stage of the game, it’s hardly a secret that library lovers are growing increasingly frustrated with the unnecessary difficulties and complications involved with ebook library borrowing. It’s a mess, and it’s a shame.

But if you count yourself among the legions of sick-and-tired library patrons, here’s a small bit of good news: Over in the American Heartland, employees of the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library have started a petition campaign on behalf of libraries across the country. Here’s a brief explanation of the campaign’s mission; you’ll find more information at ebooksforlibraries.com:

Libraries are having trouble getting ebooks from the largest publishing companies. These publishers are adding restrictions and price increases, or simply not selling ebooks to libraries at all:

  • Penguin recently ended ebook lending to public libraries.
  • HarperCollins has a 26-checkout limit on each ebook … and then the library has to buy it again.
  • Random House allows unrestricted access to ebooks, but recently raised prices – in some cases tripling them.
  • Macmillan, Simon & Schuster and Hachette don’t sell ebooks to libraries at all.

This means that library customers can get a print copy of a book from a library, but can’t get that same book in an ebook format. But that’s not what our customers want. Our customers are readers – and our readers want books, in all formats, from libraries.

The campaign’s initial goal involved collecting 10,000 signatures, which would then be snail-mail to the offending publishers. Thankfully, that 10,000-signature goal has already been achieved (they were at 10,972 signatures as of 11:45 p.m. EST on August 4, 2012). But as far as I’m concerned, it stands to reason that if 10,000 signatures are good, 100,000 signatures are great. So please consider signing the petition yourself; I suspect the good librarians at the T & S CPL will send along every last John Hancock they collect.

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UPDATE: Here’s the campaign’s follow-up video, which was produced once the 10,000-signature goal was achieved:

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UPDATE #2: I enjoyed this follow-up video so much that I couldn’t help but share it with all of you. Can you imagine the look on the faces of the Big Pub employees when the mail room guy drops all those huge tubes on their desks? Awesome.


  1. Thanks for the comment, David; I didn’t even realize there was a third video! These videos are really well-produced, by the way. Could you let us know who’s producing them, and maybe share their URL or Twitter handle? (Is video star Karl Fundenberger [http://karlfundenberger.com/] the one making these, by any chance?)

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