October 20, 2012
If there are to be ebooks in public libraries publishers (and authors) will need to be persuaded - not told
There is a lot of shouting going on here and in America at publishers who refuse to let libraries lend ebooks
The UK Government has even set up a commission to 'recommend' what should be done
If I were the chief executive of a significant publishing house, I wouldn't let public libraries lend ebooks.
From a publishers' perspective, the public library service has kept on and on telling everyone that 'libraries are more than about books' - so the library service doesn't appear to be the kind of customer that any publisher would want to deal with -- let alone deal with special terms. They haven't really been interested in books for a long time - its' better to deal with customers are interested and will promote what you do
Moreover any publshers' sales department will tell you that public librairies book buying has fallen from about 12% of all output to around 5% of output, in just ten years: the libraries demand all kinds of special arrangements, library by library, they refuse to use industry standard distribution or cataloging systems, they require their own special and expensive supply chains- they rarely support or stock any new titles, which is where publishers take risk - in short public libraries are the customers from hell
And now libraries (and politicians) are demanding the right to be able to give people free access to the precious ebooks at preferential terms and with no payment for each read.
'Sod off' - might readily be answer "Why on earth should we?" -
As this blog has often said - the public library service is like giving people free bread (because they need it) and not paying the baker .
Now the baker is saying no - if we want to carry on giving free bread - you have to find a way to pay for it
It's a negotiation - they need to be persuaded -with money. And I would start by buying more print books and making sure more of the library budget than 5% went in the direction of the publishers. I would simplify the distribution systems so that publishers could get an attractive return for their books.....
Shouting at publishers isn't going to work - in this matter they are ruled by their offices in New York and over there, they just can't hear the plaintive voice of a UK government commission - not even with Ed Vaizey and the DCMS as backing vocals.
The public library service and the librarians keep telling everyone that the service should not be privatised - those people seem to forget that most of the library operation is private- which means it does not live on annual government handout - the systems suppliers, the book suppliers, the authors, the other items for loan - all these things are private ventures- and they are as much part of the library service as the council employees - it is already half private. That argument is hot air and empty politics
Posted by Perkins at October 20, 2012 10:28 AM