Piracy or Greediness?

Another day of woes, but at least I had a chance to think.

Here’s the next chapter in the ebooks saga. Newscorps’ HarperCollins (which publishes my mom’s Harriet Tubman and Tituba) has decided that libraries will only be able to “loan” an ebook twenty-six times.

I realize that ebooks are different from dead trees and ink versions, but I can’t envision how publishers will be able to restrict access short of refusing to allow access at all, as PW says Macmillan and S&S are doing. Public libraries are supposed to be places where people can browse at will and borrow liberally, all for free. The libraries obviously incur costs and do have to replace worn-out print editions, but it is up to the library, not the publisher, to decide when to buy again. I would prefer that publishers hike their prices and allow library patrons to read at will than to have the $0.99 model that has to be purchased once every three or four weeks or months, or more often at a higher price for e.g. the Harry Potter series.

I also don’t see how limits on library access are going to cut down on piracy. In fact, the rest of the article seems to indicate that authors benefit from a certain amount of “piracy,” just as musicians discovered that when they gave stuff away sales improved.

This is another stay tuned item, except I suspect the copyright dilemmas will be resolved long before the loaning or licensing of ebooks. Actually, I bet a whole new format will be catching on when the publishing industry finally decides that libraries aren’t ripping off their products.

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