Library Advocates

ALA Washington Office

The American Library Association's Washington Office tumblr. We post about federal policies that affect libraries, including copyright, privacy and access. We also post about ebooks and, admittedly, the occasional library fluff.

Library Advocates

Aug 9
Thanks for your reply, darienlibrary. I’d encourage you to read the entire report as it contains reasonable trade-offs for publishers when libraries ask for terms with which publishers or distributors are uncomfortable.

Many publishers offer ebooks to libraries only under conditions less favorable than those for print. For example, new publications may be offered only after an embargo period, or the number of circulations may be limited. In such cases,when libraries are asked to give up some rights they have always had, it is reasonable and fair to expect some other benefit in return. Possible benefits include discounted prices for certain titles, a share of the revenues generated from book purchases patrons make through the library’s website, and limited free access to selected titles. This report details these possibilities further.

One alternative, specifically related to your point, offers a trade-off to something like a limited number of loans:

The library must repurchase the same title after a defined number or loans. (In theory, this is to offset the fact that ebooks don’t wear Page 4 of 6out, get lost or stolen, have coffee spilled on them, etc.) While this model violates the principle of ownership, it may be an acceptable way of achieving lower pricing if the defined number of loans is high enough. Ideally, this model could be combined with a sunset provision, providing for permanent ownership after a period of years. At minimum, the library should have permanent access if the ebook title is no longer offered for sale when the loan limit is reached. Paying a set price for a limited number of loans is, in effect, a rental. Librarians may seek to apply a similar fee to current titles: a cost-per-circulation that replaces or augments purchased titles. Under this model, the library will never have enduring access to the title, unless the fee schedule is maintained. A lease-to-own arrangement1 may be more prudent. Another option might be to seek the fight to sell at a discount to the community those materials that did not circulate well. In this case, the library might share some percentage of the sale with the publisher.

The ‘infographic’-type image to which you are responding is just the ideal, which, naturally, is rarely what we get in the real world - but it does offer a good starting point for negotiations. Of course, these negotiations are often between collections and acquisitions librarians - or, with smaller libraries, the directors - and we are just hoping they get the best terms possible.
Thanks again for your response!

Thanks for your reply, darienlibrary. I’d encourage you to read the entire report as it contains reasonable trade-offs for publishers when libraries ask for terms with which publishers or distributors are uncomfortable.

Many publishers offer ebooks to libraries only under conditions less favorable than those for print. For example, new publications may be offered only after an embargo period, or the number of circulations may be limited. In such cases,when libraries are asked to give up some rights they have always had, it is reasonable and fair to expect some other benefit in return. Possible benefits include discounted prices for certain titles, a share of the revenues generated from book purchases patrons make through the library’s website, and limited free access to selected titles. This report details these possibilities further.

One alternative, specifically related to your point, offers a trade-off to something like a limited number of loans:

The library must repurchase the same title after a defined number or loans. (In theory, this is to offset the fact that ebooks don’t wear Page 4 of 6out, get lost or stolen, have coffee spilled on them, etc.) While this model violates the principle of ownership, it may be an acceptable way of achieving lower pricing if the defined number of loans is high enough. Ideally, this model could be combined with a sunset provision, providing for permanent ownership after a period of years. At minimum, the library should have permanent access if the ebook title is no longer offered for sale when the loan limit is reached. Paying a set price for a limited number of loans is, in effect, a rental. Librarians may seek to apply a similar fee to current titles: a cost-per-circulation that replaces or augments purchased titles. Under this model, the library will never have enduring access to the title, unless the fee schedule is maintained. A lease-to-own arrangement1 may be more prudent. Another option might be to seek the fight to sell at a discount to the community those materials that did not circulate well. In this case, the library might share some percentage of the sale with the publisher.

The ‘infographic’-type image to which you are responding is just the ideal, which, naturally, is rarely what we get in the real world - but it does offer a good starting point for negotiations. Of course, these negotiations are often between collections and acquisitions librarians - or, with smaller libraries, the directors - and we are just hoping they get the best terms possible.

Thanks again for your response!


  1. libraryadvocates posted this