I’m going to be on the road at SXSW for the next week. People who are also going should come to my panel on Friday at 5, or attend one of the librarian meetups. And say hi if you see me, here is my schedule. In the meantime I’ll be keeping an eye on the #HMOD debacle and polishing up places to put this logo. The site, ReadersBillofRights.info, says “Please use these images in support of our work against DRM with the Readers’ Bill of Rights for Digital Books.” Nice list of associated things to read down the righthand side there.
There are other where blogs you can read more about this. The upshot is that OverDrive sent out a “State of OverDrive” letter which had some concerning news in it. The Librarian in Black outlines the primary issues. The big deal is that one publisher, Harper Collins, wants to dramatically change its ebook terms such that once you “buy” an ebook to be distributed via overdrive, it can circulate 26 times and then no more. Keep in mind that OverDrive is acceding to these requests, so I think we rightfully have a bone to pick with them as well. BoingBoing gives you some information on why this sort of DRM situation is bad for libraries, bad for people.
There are some other things in the OverDrive note including them starting to be hardasses with libraries about who is in their geographical region, to make sure libraries aren’t, I guess, defrauding OverDrive and giving cards to any old person so that they can rip OverDrive off? The mind boggles. I call this meddling. Bobbi Newman has a good and updated summary of who is saying what about this and this Library Journal article about it is replete with comments.
Now is really the time for us to step up and use our excellent collective buying power to say that this sort of thing is not at all okay. I am sorry if OverDrive is realizing that their revenue model isn’t as terrific as they maybe thought it would be, but this is overstepping what a decent vendor/library model should look like. I just get this weird feeling that in these tough economic times, OverDrive and book publishers, forgetting that libraries are some of their best and most enduring customers, have decided to see how they can get more money for fewer services. At the same time, they’re treating libraries as if we’re the ones responsible for publishers’ revenue problems. Shame on both Harper Collins for being tough guys and OverDrive for giving in to these demands.
Publishers and vendors: we will work with you to find ways to lend digital content. You need to not treat libraries as if they’re contributing to your demise.
One of the fun parts of the Symposium this wekeend was seeing Brewster Kahle talk about stuff. He started out by talking about this book Libraries of the Future that he wanted to scan and put on the Internet Archive. He then talked further about how figuring out who owned the copyrights for it was a total pain in the ass. I’m not even sure if he ever did figure it out; he even had MIT’s librarians working on it. The book is online anyhow. I haven’t looked at books in the Open Library project in a while but how slick is this? Full and slightly messy text here which, amusingly, ends with: PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE CARDS OR SLIPS FROM THIS POCKET.
Some observations from Peter Brantley about what ISBNs will do in an age of digital books and multiple intermediaries between “publishers” and “readers.”
We are rapidly jerking forwards into a near term future where ISBNs will be assigned for derivative digital book products by intermediaries, not publishers. As an astute colleague observed in New York, the ISBN becomes a product SKU.
There are many disadvantages in this; one is that it will become increasingly difficult to find the “book” in the tangled weave of various digital instantiations. Perhaps no longer will we be able to ask how many copies did EduPunk 2020 sell.