In the UK, culture minister Ed Vaizey is holding a review into e-book lending in libraries, and is receiving advice from a number of industry lobbies. The All Party Parliamentary Group on libraries has proposed requiring physical visits to the library to check out e-books, and also that any money received from charging a patron for the checkout should be used to finance other library services.

However, the Booksellers Association has objected to the latter proposal, saying that such revenues should be used to buy more books only, and requested direct inclusion into the talks:

"We must be vigilant that the government is not seeking to create a stealth revenue to underwrite what has always been the public funding of libraries. To ensure that booksellers continue to be fully represented within the Vaizey Review of E-book Lending, I have requested that the BA be given a seat at the table.”

There is also some discussion going on over Public Lending Right (PLR) payments—the payments some UK libraries are legally required make to authors whose books are checked out. It seemed to have to do with how to decide whether volunteer-run libraries should make such payments, and whether they should be made for e-book checkouts as well as physical checkouts.

E-book lending in the UK has been a contentious issue for a while, as it was apparently determined that users in China were using library e-book lending to pirate copies of UK books. Still, I find it kind of disheartening that the UK should decide to require visiting the library in person to check out an e-book—that entirely eliminates the portability that is one of e-books’ greatest advantages. I’m sure there are plenty of shut-ins who would like to be able to check out e-books without having to leave their homes. For that matter, my own local public library in Missouri allows remote e-book checkout itself.


  1. Indeed. The great advantage of remote ebook checkout (or purchase) is that it overcomes the difficulties faced by people with disability, people who are geographically isolated, people facing hostile weather and people who are very short of time.

    You lose that advantage as soon as you insist people face up to a library desk or bookshop counter.

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