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Springfield-Greene County Libraries Suspend HarperCollins E-book Orders

The Springfield-Greene County Library District has suspended ordering e-books from HarperCollins Publishers due a change in how the company charges libraries for e-book purchases. The district will continue to order print books from the publisher.

Publishers typically allow libraries to lend e-books an unlimited number of times under the license to distribute that libraries have with the companies. Under a new policy, HarperCollins is requiring libraries to apply for – and pay for – a new license every 26 checkouts on a title.

Librarians across the country are taking similar action, or boycotting HarperCollins altogether, as a result of the company’s new e-book policy.

Lisa Sampley, the library district’s collection services manager, said HarperCollins’ new policy would raise the district’s costs and increase staff time. She is responsible for purchasing print and non-print items for the district.

Sampley said she knows that, as new technology emerges and becomes popular, companies will change their business models. However, the library already struggles to maintain a high quality of service with lower revenues, rising costs and increased usage, she said. Some e-books cost more than print copies, and publishers don’t give volume discounts for e-books the way they do for print copies.

HarperCollins’ new policy would have a negative impact on the library’s ability to serve customers, Sampley said, so the library will not purchase its e-books until the policy is changed.

The 184 HarperCollins e-books already in the library collection are “grandfathered,” and won’t be affected by the publisher’s new practice, Sampley said.

Kathleen O’Dell is community relations director for the Springfield-Greene County Library District. She can be reached at kathleeno@thelibrary.org.

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