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Publisher to limit number of ebook library checkouts

Mar 3, 2011   [permalink]

WTF? HarperCollins (owned by Rupert Murdoch) is trying even harder to accelerate the digital destruction of the publishing industry.

The latest self-inflicted wound is that they will cause their ebooks to self-destruct after 26 library checkouts.

Granted, one of the beauties of ebooks is that they don't wear out, although a hardback print book can last a loooong time too. In school we routinely used textbooks that were decades old and in constant use. Pretty durable. Certainly weren't destroyed after the equivalent of 26 two-week checkout periods (i.e. one year). Libraries have lots of books on the shelves that are 50, 100 years old and still in usable condition. (Libraries can even repair them.)

I don't like the idea of creating needless limits on things just for the sake of profits. Ebooks don't wear out, so there's no logic in imposing a "wear out" cost on them. Not to mention, if there were to be a limit on number of checkouts, 2600 sounds a lot more reasonable than 26.

Even if they do back off a little, "Oh, well, if you insist we'll be generous and double it to 52," that's still far short of the comparable lifetime of a paper book.

I realize publishers are afraid of the digital revolution, but this kind of greedy attitude will only backfire by speeding up their death. Maybe Murdoch is feeling old and doesn't care what happens after he dies, so he just wants to maximize profit for the next few years at the expense of the future.

But picking on libraries??? Libraries are a bedrock of an educated populace and electorate in a democracy, necessary to both prosperity and freedom.

For shame.

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