publishers trying to restrict e-book check out
The San Antonio Public Library is caught in the middle of a huge debate between booksellers, publishers, and authors over their ability to allow you to check out e-books, 1200 WOAI news reports.
Books which are delivered instantly to your Nook or Kindle e-reader are all the rage these days, but Kate Gray, who is Library Branch Services Coordinator for the San Antonio Public Library System, says some e-books may not be available, while others are available only with bizarre restrictions placed on them by copyright holders.
"We have one publisher that is telling us that we can loan a book out 26 times and then that's it, we have to buy another copy," Gray said. "Other publishers are telling us we cannot check out their e-books at all."
Gray compares the current battle to the dawn of music downloads ten years ago, when the Recording Industry Association of America was fighting with start up web sites like Napster over what the rules would be surrounding song downloads. And, like the battle between RIAA and Napster, Gray says the publishers are shooting themselves in the foot by denying library patrons the opportunity to read their books.
"56% of people who borrow library books and come to a library by a book will then buy books by that author," she said.
Gray said she has no idea how Harper-Collins, which publishes authors ranging from the late Ray Bradbury, to political writer Michael Savage, to several well known fiction and romance authors, came up with the figure of 26 checkouts. She says publishers don't limit the amount of time a traditional book can be checked out.
She says libraries are also fighting the same battle.
"If a borrower of ours can get a title at Amazon for $9.99, do they want to come to the library to barrow it, or do they want to have to wait three weeks for the e-book to become available," she asks.
Like the debate over Napster, Gray says the battle over e-books will be worked out, maybe with a U.S. Supreme Court decision. In the meantime, if the e-book isn't available, you can always read books the old-school way.
"We still buy them in print, so it's not like we don't have them," she said.