Library Journal reports that HarperCollins has issued new terms to Overdrive for how many times a library e-book can be loaned out. Library Journal reports that HarperCollins has declared a library-purchased e-book may only be loaned 26 times before it must be re-purchased. This bears a certain similarity to agency pricing in that not just Overdrive but any library e-book provider dealing with HC will be required to abide by those terms.
The publisher also issued a short statement: "HarperCollins is committed to the library channel. We believe this change balances the value libraries get from our titles with the need to protect our authors and ensure a presence in public libraries and the communities they serve for years to come."
What presence? The presence that budget-crunched libraries can’t afford to purchase again once they’re loaned out 26 times? Great move, HC!
Of course, the idea is that printed books wear out after a certain number of lendings (30-35, says this librarian). And since the publishing industry never tires of thinking up ways to make e-books act more like print, this sort of thing probably should have been expected sooner or later. Needless to say, librarians and their partisans are upset, and a Twitter protest is going on under the hashtag #hcod.
It’s unclear whether, like agency pricing, this practice is going to spread to the other publishers. I wonder if any of them will realize just how bad this is making HarperCollins look. I mean, come on, libraries are having enough budget trouble already, and it’s not like you’re going to make a huge amount of money off of them in any case. And they expose people to your books who might decide they like them enough to buy them in another form. Do you really want to go this way, HarperCollins? Seriously?
(Found via ReadWriteWeb.)