On Borrowing Digital Books From the Library

In the "Your Money" section of the NYT there is this article: On Borrowing Digital Books From the Library

Line from article: Many publishers are nervous that borrowing e-books from libraries is too easy and will cut into digital sales, so they refuse to sell them to libraries, or restrict the number of times a digital book can be loaned.

The author then goes on to discuss the travails she has had getting ebooks from the library and wraps up the piece with this line - So much for free, easy reading. For my budget’s sake, I can only hope that publishers and libraries find a way to cooperate soon on making electronic books more readily available for borrowing.

Comment: I know there are layers of issues in regards to publishers and libraries and ebooks. For example there is the argument that libraries provide exposure for books that people would not have discovered otherwise and this can generate sales. Yet after reading the totality of this piece it is not hard for me to understand why publishers are edgy. People so quickly want to connect the concept of ebooks with FREE.


A hard copy book is also associated with free at the library. What's the difference?

The difference with the ease that you can get a book.

The author of the article opens with the ease in which she can get an ebook -- As I quickly learned, e-readers offer instant gratification. Read an intriguing review in The New York Times Book Review on Sunday? A click or two, and there it is on your reader. I recalled a snippet on the radio about “Escape From Camp 14,” about a boy raised in the North Korean gulag. That night, I downloaded it, and devoured it.

With getting the ebook from the library with a few clicks you remove the drive and the checkout and the returns. So the ebook is associated with free and it is easy to get.

Whether libraries distinguish between the differences is also somewhat of a moot point. Many of the major publishers are providing no ebooks to libraries. The publishers fear (rational or irrational) is keeping libraries from having the books available. The difference is real for them and since they control the content that can make it real for us.

The author of the article opened by mentioning how because of the ease she was buying more books. This is what publishers want. They do not want that same ease to be used to get books for free from the library.

Add new comment

Plain text

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.