I was in Texas this past week, again. I was attending possibly my favorite library conference, TXLA. Part of the deal I worked out as a speaker was that I would be registered for the entire conference so that I could go to other panels and talks and events. I did. I also took in a lot of Austin sights, saw a bunch of people, participated in a rally and gave a pretty good talk. My inbox filled up with links for National Library Week while I was away and only paying partial attention to my email. I’ll make another post about the conference specifically, but these are the links that I wanted to pass around, late though they may be.
Interesting to look at the various ways libraries are reacting in policy fashion to the HarperCollins “You can have 26 checkouts at this price” decision. Library Journal has a recent round-up.
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 where even the casinos without Swedish license are gaining popularity, 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.