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Libraries and Publishers Face Challenges of E-Book Industry

Libraries are in the national news again, this time over their boycott of e-book orders from publisher HarperCollins.

For the record, the Springfield-Greene County Libraries have suspended new HarperCollins e-book orders, but continue to purchase its print books.

What happened? HarperCollins has decided that libraries purchasing its new e-book titles and licenses may check them out only 26 times before the license expires. At that point, the library has to purchase a new e-book/license.

That means at a checkout period of two weeks, that e-book could be used for about one year for a popular title; a year and a half for a three-week lending period.

HarperCollins says it believes the change balances the value that libraries get from its titles with the need to protect its authors and ensure a presence in public libraries and their communities. Execs arrived at 26 after considering several things including average lifespan of a book. The new policy doesn’t affect the 184 HarperCollins e-books already in the library’s collection. (Macmillan and Simon & Schuster, two of the big six publishers, still do not allow e-books to be circulated in libraries.)

We know that suspending e-book orders from HarperCollins will affect our e-book readers’ choices. The library is working to build its e-book collection, but must balance their cost with print book costs. The new policy would raise the district’s costs and increase staff time to monitor checkouts. Worse, e-book publishers charge libraries full price for each item – no volume price breaks as there are for print books.

We will continue to monitor the publisher’s policy and hope it presents a more workable business model in the future.
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Visitors researching historical collections will be able to streamline their work with a new film viewer and multi-media scanner.

The ST ViewScan digital film viewer/scanner and companion multi-media scanner was purchased through a $7,983 grant supported by the Library Services and Technology Act as administered by the Missouri State Library. The library provided $2,662 in matching funds and housed it in the Library Center.

Onsite and remote are able to view enhanced digital live images on a PC screen. They can do enhanced cropping and masking. In addition, an article from a microfilmed newspaper can be integrated with information from a hard copy book, magazine, paper, a color slide or other formats such as film negatives.
 

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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