I have spent some time considering the eBook publishing issue and its impact on libraries. One recurring thought is that the publishers are not filling the needs of authors or libraries in many instances. The HarperCollins proposal clearly indicates that the stakeholders for HC is shareholders only. Authors, libraries, and the general public voiced that this did not suit their needs, desires or wants.
Well, we know that publishers are not looking out for anyone but themselves and their shareholders. We know that authors often don’t make a living on the publisher-based book model. We know that the solutions publishers have offered in terms of eBooks, DRM and libraries doesn’t work.
I still cannot help but feel if publishers are not meeting the needs of the consumers (libraries and readers in general) or the creators then what point do they serve? Moreover, how can libraries offer solutions that actually meet everyone’s needs and wants? Why most we remain a passive bystander? Lest we forget that some of the best publishing that has ever taken place happens in university presses that are run by libraries.
I do fear that the model that emerges from the eBook revolution will price libraries out of the book arena entirely. Seriously, if eBooks are $.99 will people wait for a library copy to become available? Moreover, if eBooks are free due to advertising, again no need for libraries to provide content. What if the licensing arrangements from vendors make it too costly for us?
In many ways, I am typically a happy and optimistic person. I believe in hope. But this is not boding well for libraries.