E-Books: And Now for Even More Limitations

Yesterday I spent a good chunk of time trying to figure out the best model for my new company’s floating libraries for eBook lending. In a sense, we are lucky as a for profit corporation because we can explore cross-promotional partnerships and other such avenues in addition to traditional non-profit licensing and DRM situations.

However, I was still flabbergasted by some really devastating news brought to light by both Librarian by Day and Go the Hellman.

To me, two big things stand out on the Overdrive update:

  • 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.
  • OverDrive wants 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.

So, simply put, you can pay for a book that can only be checked out a certain number of times and only by patrons with a particular relationship to the library.

All of this stems from changes to Harper Collins policies and the Hellman blog refers to this as the “Pretend It’s Print” model which is an easy way to put it. Pretend your library owns a print copy of an item that is popular. Well, it gets worn out, doesn’t it?

Wear and tear prompts the library to purchase a new item to replace the worn copy. Thus, the library spends more money on a print copy anyway and the necessity of replacement yields even more profit. Paper is not eternal, after all.

Perhaps Watson the IBM wunder-computer can figure out the solution for us all?




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