Tag: digital publishing

Updated: Publishers Alienating Readers Through Libraries

Posted March 2, 2011 by Holly in News | 4 Comments

I missed the announcement last week, but apparently HarperCollins has decided to put a lending cap on e-books through library systems. e-book lending is still in its infancy, but I know many readers (read: Casee) who have discovered the service recently and are overjoyed. HC, one of the Big 6 in publishing, has decided to limit the number of times a library can lend a digital title to 26, for 2 week periods. This means that after 26 people have borrowed it, the library will have to repurchase the license. In essance, it’s like buying a print book after it has been checked out 26 times. Rather ridiculous, no?

I understand that publishers are still finding their way in this new digital age. Digital reading is taking the publishing world by storm, and concerns of piracy and pricing and digital rights management (DRM) are making an already unfamiliar situation seem impossible to deal with. But I’ll tell you this, as a reader, I’m sick and tired of being taken advantage of and made to feel like a criminal for wanting the same rights for my digital library that I have for my print library.

So we’re not mistaken here: Libraries pay for the digital books they lend. The books can only be lent one at a time, to one person, for a period of 2-4wks (depending on the library). The book cannot be lent again until that lending period expires (in most cases, even if the book is returned early). Libraries are not stealing these books, then lending the same copy out to 1 million readers at once. It’s the same concept as for print books. If they have 1 in stock, only 1 reader at a time may have it.

I’m not an idiot, you know. I see what publishers are doing, and it makes me very, very angry. As it happens, I really enjoy novels from HarperCollins (and Macmillan and Simon&Schuster, who don’t even allow digital lending through libraries). Some of my favorite authors publish with them. At the end of the day, am I going to stop reading my favorite authors because the publisher won’t allow me to borrow the digital book from the library? No, I’m probably not. So the publisher has me over a barrel. They can charge twice the amount for a digital book, or make sure it isn’t available to me at my library for free, or not release the digital book until the print version has been available for a minimum of 30 days..and it isn’t going to stop me from buying it. At the end of the day, my need to read will trump my disgust with the publisher.

But that doesn’t mean I have no voice. I do. And I’m using it today to urge all of you to write the publisher, or your favorite authors (some of who are even worse than the publishers when it comes to digital advocacy), and tell them you want their books available in the library. Share with them your love of reading, and your case for wanting the same rights for digital books as for print. Let us stand up and be heard.

(as it happens, it looks like I’m just echoing what Jane @ Dear Author had to say about this subject, though she said it better. If you’re looking for more information, check out her post, or the one Overdrive recently put up to defend its position)

ETA: It looks like HarperCollins responded to the public outcry. Today Josh Marshwell, director of sales, posted an Open Letter To Librarians on the HarperLibrary blog. I’m very disheartened by his response.  Here’s the section that most baffles me:

We have serious concerns that our previous e-book policy, selling e-books to libraries in perpetuity, if left unchanged, would undermine the emerging e-book eco-system, hurt the growing e-book channel, place additional pressure on physical bookstores, and in the end lead to a decrease in book sales and royalties paid to authors. We are looking to balance the mission and needs of libraries and their patrons with those of authors and booksellers, so that the library channel can thrive alongside the growing e-book retail channel. 

 This tells me that publishers still aren’t thinking clearly about digital reading. Whether you’re an e-book reader or not, I hope you’ll agree with me that digital reading isn’t something dirty. The rights and obligations to the digital community should be the same as those offered to the print community. There’s an email address listed on that open letter..I hope you’ll utilize it. I know I plan to.

To continue the discussion please email library.ebook@HarperCollins.com


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Updated: Publishers Alienating Readers Through Libraries

Posted March 2, 2011 by Holly in Discussions | 4 Comments

I missed the announcement last week, but apparently HarperCollins has decided to put a lending cap on e-books through library systems. e-book lending is still in its infancy, but I know many readers (read: Casee) who have discovered the service recently and are overjoyed. HC, one of the Big 6 in publishing, has decided to limit the number of times a library can lend a digital title to 26, for 2 week periods. This means that after 26 people have borrowed it, the library will have to repurchase the license. In essance, it’s like buying a print book after it has been checked out 26 times. Rather ridiculous, no?

I understand that publishers are still finding their way in this new digital age. Digital reading is taking the publishing world by storm, and concerns of piracy and pricing and digital rights management (DRM) are making an already unfamiliar situation seem impossible to deal with. But I’ll tell you this, as a reader, I’m sick and tired of being taken advantage of and made to feel like a criminal for wanting the same rights for my digital library that I have for my print library.

So we’re not mistaken here: Libraries pay for the digital books they lend. The books can only be lent one at a time, to one person, for a period of 2-4wks (depending on the library). The book cannot be lent again until that lending period expires (in most cases, even if the book is returned early). Libraries are not stealing these books, then lending the same copy out to 1 million readers at once. It’s the same concept as for print books. If they have 1 in stock, only 1 reader at a time may have it.

I’m not an idiot, you know. I see what publishers are doing, and it makes me very, very angry. As it happens, I really enjoy novels from HarperCollins (and Macmillan and Simon&Schuster, who don’t even allow digital lending through libraries). Some of my favorite authors publish with them. At the end of the day, am I going to stop reading my favorite authors because the publisher won’t allow me to borrow the digital book from the library? No, I’m probably not. So the publisher has me over a barrel. They can charge twice the amount for a digital book, or make sure it isn’t available to me at my library for free, or not release the digital book until the print version has been available for a minimum of 30 days..and it isn’t going to stop me from buying it. At the end of the day, my need to read will trump my disgust with the publisher.

But that doesn’t mean I have no voice. I do. And I’m using it today to urge all of you to write the publisher, or your favorite authors (some of who are even worse than the publishers when it comes to digital advocacy), and tell them you want their books available in the library. Share with them your love of reading, and your case for wanting the same rights for digital books as for print. Let us stand up and be heard.

(as it happens, it looks like I’m just echoing what Jane @ Dear Author had to say about this subject, though she said it better. If you’re looking for more information, check out her post, or the one Overdrive recently put up to defend its position)

ETA: It looks like HarperCollins responded to the public outcry. Today Josh Marshwell, director of sales, posted an Open Letter To Librarians on the HarperLibrary blog. I’m very disheartened by his response.  Here’s the section that most baffles me:

We have serious concerns that our previous e-book policy, selling e-books to libraries in perpetuity, if left unchanged, would undermine the emerging e-book eco-system, hurt the growing e-book channel, place additional pressure on physical bookstores, and in the end lead to a decrease in book sales and royalties paid to authors. We are looking to balance the mission and needs of libraries and their patrons with those of authors and booksellers, so that the library channel can thrive alongside the growing e-book retail channel. 

 This tells me that publishers still aren’t thinking clearly about digital reading. Whether you’re an e-book reader or not, I hope you’ll agree with me that digital reading isn’t something dirty. The rights and obligations to the digital community should be the same as those offered to the print community. There’s an email address listed on that open letter..I hope you’ll utilize it. I know I plan to.

To continue the discussion please email library.ebook@HarperCollins.com


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The Dorchester Transition – My Thoughts

Posted August 11, 2010 by Holly in Discussions | 8 Comments

Dorchester put a new FAQ page up on their site today, detailing some of the main concerns about their transition from traditional publisher to e-publisher. Here’s the intro:

Given the many changes in the publishing industry over the last several years, Dorchester has made the decision to more tightly focus its distribution models so that we may fully capitalize on the most profitable emerging technologies.

Starting with September titles, we will be moving from mass-market to trade paperback format. This will delay new releases roughly 6-8 months, but it will also open many new and more efficient sales channels.
And we’re pleased to say all titles will be available in ebook format as originally scheduled. The substantial growth we’ve seen in the digital market in such a short period—combined with the decline of the mass-market business—convinced us that we needed to fully focus our resources in this segment sooner rather than later.
Dorchester has always been known as a company ahead of the curve and willing to take risks. As bookstores are allocating the bulk of their capital to the digital business, it only makes sense that we do the same. Everyone keeps hearing that the industry has to change if it’s going to survive. We’re excited to be at the forefront of that change and will continue to keep you posted on further developments.
 I think many of us were stunned when the announcement leaked last week. Dorchester has long been one of my favorite publishers, because they take risks and publish things many others won’t. It seems like they’re willing to take more chances than other publishers.
I was saddened when I heard they were in financial trouble and had sold many of their titles to Avon and Berkley. I was still hopeful that they’d be able to turn things around, but I’m on the fence about whether this is the way to go.
The digital publishing market is largely untapped at the moment. Many authors and publishers are still living in the dark ages when it comes to digital books. 5 years ago, digital books were dismissed as a silly joke. Today, nearly every title that’s published is released in both print and e-formats. With the help of hand-held reading devices, mobile applications and a major marketing push from websites like Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Books on Board, digital publishing has grown and expanded. Even so, many authors and publishers still look at e-publishing as the bastard child of print publishing. 
Seeing a company like Dorchester take the steps to move fully into that market both pleases and bothers me. I couldn’t be happier that a major NY publisher is looking at the digital market in a serious light and giving it the credit it deserves. Unfortunately, I think the hushed-up way this was gone about has possibly done more bad than good for the cause.
I do not work for Dorchester. I’m not contracted with them as an author or otherwise. I have little to no contact with them as a reviewer. But if the rumors are true and their authors weren’t told in advance about this move, nor given the opportunity to explore other avenues if that was their wish..well, that doesn’t look good on Dorchester.
Instead of this being a move toward something wonderful, a way to open up digital publishing and prove once and for all that the digital market is here to stay and should be taken seriously, it’s somehow tainted. I’m very saddened by this.
I wish Dorchester  and its authors the best of luck in the future. I hope they come out of this stronger than ever. I also hope other publishers realize this isn’t another black mark against digital publishing, but a sign of what the future will bring.
What do you think about Dorchester’s announcement? Are you ready to move forward into a more digital age, or do you think we should remain in the print ages?
PS. Check out Wendy’s blog for more info and a better presentation of what this means for Dorchester and its authors.


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