Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Librarians debunk Harper Collin's 26 ebook checkout limit

You may remember my post last week about Harper Collins's decision to only license their ebooks for 26 checkouts in the libraries.  Their argument is that this will make ebooks more like a physical copy, which has to be replaced eventually because of wear and tear.  Twenty-six checkouts works out to roughly a year with 2-week checkout periods (ebooks cannot be renewed).

Unfortunately, their math is bad.  I've checked books out from the library that were obviously several decades old, sometimes older, and I'm sure everyone else here who frequents libraries has had the same experience.

Well, a couple of librarians from the Pioneer Library System disagreed with Harper Collins's numbers, only they had the proof to back it up.  This video shows how many checkouts books can get and still be in good, readable condition.  Also, don't forget that libraries routinely repair physical copies in order to make them last longer — the copy with the spine separation could be easily fixed and sent out to be enjoyed by another 120 patrons.

What I find most fascinating is the paperback that has been checked out 25 times, yet is still in really good condition.  So now paperbacks will outlast ebooks?  Harper Collins's claim that 26 checkouts are a fair limit to place on ebooks is obviously groundless.

The video encourages viewers to write to Harper Collins about this.  Remember to be calm and professional about it — you can say that you disagree and why, but please, no name-calling, threats, or raging lunacy.  We want them to take our concerns seriously!

Click on this link to email Harper Collins.

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