E-books petition in circulation

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Readers with e-books are well aware that the cost of non-paper novels, magazines and newspapers is only slightly less than their paper and ink counterparts, leading many to seek e-books through a library loan system.

Although libraries have various DVD movies and books on compact disc, the e-book question is one that is still unresolved for both libraries and e-readers.

"Many publishers refuse to sell e-books to libraries," said Gina Milburn, director of the Barry-Lawrence Regional Library system. "We have looked at joining the state library consortium, but the fee is based on population, and for us, the cost would be $9,000 per year.

"I hesitate to use that much taxpayer funds," Milburn continued. "The number of titles is limited because they can't get titles from all of the publishing houses."

Milburn said the $9,000 that would be required to join the consortium would come from the library's new book budget.

"That could buy a lot of hardback books," Milburn said. "We have to be frugal with the taxpayer dollars. Joining a consortium for such a small population of users to access such a limited number of titles isn't prudent."

McMillan Publishing, whose authors include Keith Ablow, Barbara Ehrenreich, Steve Hamilton, Orson Scott Card and Lisa Lillien, refuses to sell e-book titles to libraries. So does Simon and Schuster, whose authors include Mary Higgins Clark, Stephen King, Mark R. Levin, Jeffery Deaver and Glenn Beck.

Hachette Book Group will only sell some e-books to libraries. Among those authors not included for e-book sales are James Patterson and Don Winslow.

Penguin Group will only sell some titles in some formats. Random House recently tripled its prices for e-book sales to libraries.

Harper Collins Publishers only licenses the use of each e-book copy for 26 loans.

"Another thing publishers are concerned about is the lack of repeat business for a title," Milburn said. "We can usually get about 100 circulations with a hardback book before we have to replace it. Ideally, an e-book would not wear out.

"It's not that we don't want our customers to have these titles," Milburn said. "We literally can't get them. Maybe at some point vendors will work with libraries in the future."

To heighten industry awareness on the number of people seeking availability of e-books through the library loan system, a petition has been started in Topeka, Kan., encouraging publishers to make e-books available to public libraries.

The library is seeking 10,000 signatures on the petition, which will then be sent to publishers across the nation, notifying them of the public's desire to have books available in many formats, including e-readers, for their clients and customers.

For more information or to sign the petition visit www.ebooksforlibraries.com.

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