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E-Books Strain Relations Beween Libraries, Publishing Houses

“E-books have changed the world of publishing in fundamental ways. The business model that encouraged publishers to support the work of public libraries has changed to such an extent that this relationship has been stressed to the point of non cooperation.” (via NPR)

One Response to “E-Books Strain Relations Beween Libraries, Publishing Houses”

  1. thorn
    August 5, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    It would appear that publishers still have not BOTHERED to learn about readers, book-people, and their behavior. If i sound impatient, it’s because I have no patience for failure to do easy, obvious things.

    1. Nobody is going to pay for *everything* they read.

    2. New authors’ work is the least likely risk a reader is willing to take.

    3. Libraries spend loads of money on books — in other words, they *are* customers.

    4. Libraries are advertisers for books that pay the publishers for the ‘privilege’ of promoting their work.

    5. Free reads propogate book purchases.

    About #5. Ok, here’s an anecdote. I will sometimes read a library copy of a book if I’m not sure I need to own it. If I love the book, I will have to own it. Yep. Believe it. I actually buy books I’ve already read. And I can also tell you: Book people DO this. If I like the writing of a library read but deem it inessential to my personal collection, I may buy a copy for a friend AND/or family member. Sometimes I’m undecided about a book, so I’ll read it a couple of times before buying. Some books I never buy at all. Which allows me to spend that money on *different* books. I’m a book person. It’s not like I’m going to say, “Yay! Library! I just saved 20 bucks! I’m gonna buy 20 bucks’ worth of mint Oreos!”

    The thing is, ebooks are also books. And if you were to ask Amazon, they might suggest an underlying pathology to my book-buying habits. Because I’ve bought *far* more ebooks since 2009, than I had ever bought print books before the existence of e. A book is a book, and reading is the most important thing. And I know from the internets that there are thousands out there just like me. *

    So,To the publishers:

    1. A book is not a rollercoaster ride.
    1.a. Therefore, (to reiterate) *nobody* is going to pay for *everything* they read. Because people willingly risk time *or* money, but hesitate to risk both at once.
    2. Libraries are your friends.
    2.a. If your sales are dropping, it’s because there are fewer book-people. Your real competition is: cable. videogames. the rat race that leaves people so tired after work that if they sit down they’ll fall asleep. Wakeful people with time flexibility are much more likely to read for pleasure.
    3. If you seriously deal with libraries as a threat, you telegraph to the readers and book-people that what you publish really isn’t that good, and you need to dazzle us somehow or we won’t buy. If that is really the case: You are just not very good at your job.
    4. The video rental industry had a cow similar to yours when libraries began to lend movies. This *increased* video rentals. Libraries had limited numbers of copies available, so rather than go movieless on a Saturday night, library hopefuls would head off to the video store, pay for the rental, and often grab another title or two while they were there. The ebook thing is *even better* for you-all. More often than not a person ends up wait-listed for an ebook title. If instant gratification is desired, do you have ANY IDEA how easy it is for the patron to just buy the book instead? In many fewer clicks than it takes to borrow, they have paid for, AND HAVE the book. Cha-ching.

    Honestly. You publisher-people have absolutely no idea.

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