Wyden, Eshoo Question Big Five Publishers Over Their Library E-book Practices

“In a potentially significant development, Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo (D-California) this week presented a wide-ranging set of questions to the Big Five publishers regarding their practices in the library e-book market.

In their letter to the publishers the lawmakers reference “the exorbitant costs and burdensome restrictions” that they contend “are draining resources from many local libraries,” and “forcing [libraries] to make difficult choices to try and provide a consistent level of service” to their communities.”

An App Called Libby and the Surprisingly Big Business of Library E-books | The New Yorker

“I read more books in 2020 than I had in years. I was not the only one; last year, more than a hundred library systems checked out a million or more books each from OverDrive’s catalogue, and the company reported a staggering four hundred and thirty million checkouts, up a third from the year before. (Barnes & Noble, which has more retail locations than any other bookseller in the U.S., has said that it sells about a hundred and fifty-five million print books a year.) The burst in digital borrowing has helped many readers, but it has also accelerated an unsettling trend. Books, like music and movies and TV shows, are increasingly something that libraries and readers do not own but, rather, access temporarily, from corporations that do….

In 2011, HarperCollins introduced a new lending model that was capped at twenty-six checkouts, after which a library would need to purchase the book again. Publishers soon introduced other variations, from two-year licenses to copies that multiple readers could use at one time, which boosted their revenue and allowed libraries to buy different kinds of books in different ways. For a classic work, which readers were likely to check out steadily for years to come, a library might purchase a handful of expensive perpetual licenses. With a flashy best-seller, which could be expected to lose steam over time, the library might buy a large number of cheaper licenses that would expire relatively quickly. …

The high prices of e-book rights could become untenable for libraries in the long run, according to several librarians and advocates I spoke to—libraries, venders, and publishers will probably need to negotiate a new way forward. “It’s not a good system,” Inouye said. “There needs to be some kind of change in the law, to reinstate public rights that we have for analog materials.” Maria Bustillos, a founding editor of the publishing coöperative Brick House, argued recently in The Nation that libraries should pay just once for each copy of an e-book. …”

 

New digital platform empowers public libraries and patrons, boosts equitable access to knowledge – Knight Foundation

“A powerful partnership of industry leaders today announced The Palace Project, a transformational, library-centered platform for digital content and services.   

The Palace Project, with a $5 million award from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to LYRASIS, and in strategic partnership with Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), will develop and scale a robust suite of content, services, and tools for the delivery of ebooks, audiobooks, and other digital media to benefit public libraries and patrons.   

The Palace Project will support the mission of public libraries by providing equitable access to digital knowledge, bolstering the direct relationship between libraries and patrons, and protecting patron privacy by enabling libraries to serve content to patrons from all the major e-content providers.  …”

Know your rights: the key to eBook access – CILIP: the library and information association

“Maintaining the status quo for public libraries – to build collections, preserve and lend them – is now seen as a radical and frightening mission, according Ben White, PhD researcher at the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy & Management, Bournemouth University and co-founder of KnowledgeRights21. Here he speaks to Rob Mackinlay about why not challenging the methods used by publishers to protect their content will damage not only libraries, but also threatens research and innovation.

“Publishers can’t refuse to sell paper books to libraries, but they can and do refuse to sell them eBooks. And all we want to do is to be allowed to do what we’ve always done, to keep the status quo, to be allowed to build collections, preserve and lend, so it is strange that the solution sounds a bit frightening and radical,” says Ben White who has been immersed in the legal minutiae of intellectual property across Europe for decades….”

New Digital Platform Empowers Public Libraries and Patrons, Boosts Equitable Access to Knowledge | DPLA

“A powerful partnership of industry leaders today announced The Palace Project, a transformational, library-centered platform for digital content and services.  

The Palace Project, with a $5 million investment by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for LYRASIS, and in strategic partnership with Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), will develop and scale a robust suite of content, services, and tools for the delivery of ebooks, audiobooks, and other digital media to benefit public libraries and patrons.  …”

Libby is stuck between libraries and e-book publishers – Protocol — The people, power and politics of tech

“On the surface, there couldn’t be a more wholesome story than the meteoric rise of the Libby app. A user-friendly reading app becomes popular during the pandemic, making books cool again for young readers, multiplying e-book circulation and saving public libraries from sudden obsolescence.

But the Libby story is also a parable for how the best-intentioned people can build a beloved technological tool and accidentally create a financial crisis for those who need the tech most. Public librarians depend on Libby, but they also worry that its newfound popularity could seriously strain their budgets….”

Boston Public Library makes historical images available for use in Wikipedia | Boston Public Library

“In celebration of Wikipedia’s 20th anniversary on January 15th, Boston Public Library has uploaded more than 8,000 historical photographs from its archival collections to Wikimedia Commons. These images include some of the library’s most important photographic collections, and contribute to the single largest batch of uploads ever contributed to Wikimedia Commons. By uploading these public domain images, BPL is making them available so that they can be freely used to enhance Wikipedia articles, re-printed in publications, or incorporated in student projects and papers. …”

Amazon Publishing in Talks to Offer E-books to Public Libraries

“The potential deal would be a breakthrough moment in the library e-book market as Amazon currently does not make its digital content available to libraries. It would also be a major coup for the Digital Public Library of America’s upstart e-book platform and its SimplyE library reading app….”

 

 

Amazon under pressure to lift ban on e-book library sales | TheHill

“Amazon’s refusal to sell e-books published in-house to libraries is sparking backlash as demand for digital content spikes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Librarians and advocacy groups are pushing for the tech giant to license its published e-books to libraries for distribution, arguing the company’s self-imposed ban significantly decreases public access to information.

“You shouldn’t have to have a credit card in order to be an informed citizen,” Michael Blackwell, director of St. Mary’s County Library in Maryland, told The Hill. “It’s vital that books continue to be a source of information and that those books should be democratically discovered through libraries.”

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A petition launched last week by Fight for the Future, a tech advocacy group, calls for Congress to pursue an antitrust investigation and legislative action against Amazon for its ban on selling e-books to libraries. As of Tuesday afternoon, it had nearly 13,000 signatures….

Amazon has indicated it is in discussions to allow its e-books to be licensed by libraries, but so far the public institutions are unable to access Amazon’s digital titles.

Issues surrounding library e-books go beyond Amazon. Traditional publishers have become increasingly restrictive regarding e-books, Blackwell said, but they at least offer options for libraries to license and distribute those books.

The crux of the issue is how e-books are sold. Whereas libraries can lend out physical copies of purchased books for as long as they hold up, libraries must adhere to licensing agreements that constrain how long they can keep e-books in circulation.

The top publishing firms typically have two-year licensing contacts for library e-books, with options to extend for another two years, said Alan S. Inouye, senior director of public policy and government relations at the American Library Association.

But unlike their traditional publishing peers, Amazon does not allow libraries to purchase the e-books it publishes, leaving no option for libraries to access what Amazon says is “over 1 million digital titles” that consumers “won’t find anywhere else.”…”

Canadian Libraries Respond to ‘Globe and Mail’ Essay Attacking Public Libraries

“Contrary to Whyte’s assertions, public libraries are in fact good for bookstores, publishing, and authors. Public libraries purchase and promote a diversity of material from a wide range of sources, including books by local authors published by independent Canadian presses. And research shows library borrowers are also book buyers. Booknet Canada researched the intersection of library use and book buying and found that Canadians who both buy and borrow books from the library purchase more books on average per month than buyers who do not use the library at all. By exposing people to ideas and content they wouldn’t otherwise think to purchase, libraries help people read more. Libraries are not taking away market share from bookstores, we are making the market bigger for everyone.

Whyte also goes on to make the rather astonishing claim that, “the dirty secret of public libraries is that their stock-in-trade is neither education nor edification. It’s entertainment.” Furthermore, he suggests it’s entertainment for the middle and upper classes, who can surely afford to buy their own books.

 

This implies that “the benighted underclass,” as Whyte calls them, do not deserve or should not have access to recreational material. That kind of wisdom harkens back to the 19th century, when civic leaders established the precursors of public libraries for their workers in the hope that edifying lectures and educational books would reduce crime, and keep people out of bars and brothels—but, no novels! It also suggests that the middle class have ample disposable income and should not be using the library at all, despite the fact that they, and all taxpayers, are paying for it….”

Opinion | After the Coronavirus, Libraries Must Change – The New York Times

“As we face tragedy, devastating economic turmoil and dislocation, public libraries will play a key part in the recovery of our country, cities and lives. Libraries offer all people — regardless of background or circumstance — free access to the tools and knowledge they need to open doors of opportunity and be productive members of society. To remain true to their mission, all libraries must undergo radical change. To serve the public in the face of unprecedented challenges, libraries will need to transition their services to the virtual space and explore new avenues to serve the public and bring people together, even while we are apart….”

DPLA partners with state libraries to offer statewide ebooks access | DPLA

“Earlier this month, the DPLA ebooks team met virtually with state librarians from across the country as part of the annual spring COSLA members’ meeting. We enjoyed this opportunity to hear directly from state libraries about their ebook needs, as well as from states who have already adopted SimplyE about how it is helping them expand critical access to ebooks for people across their states. As Washington State Librarian and COSLA ebook engagement group chair Cindy Aden said, “I am happy to see so many COSLA members working with SImplyE. Ebooks have never been more important, as libraries remain closed. Additionally, though, it’s clear that libraries must address the economic issues around ebooks and find a way to successfully work with the entire publishing ecosystem to find licensing models that work for everyone. DPLA and SimplyE give libraries some tools to explore better options.”

SimplyE is an open-source ebook platform developed by the New York Public Library. Over the past year, we’ve seen a wave of interest in SimplyE from libraries who want to provide more diverse content for more people while maintaining control over the patron experience and protecting patron privacy. There are currently more than 150 library systems across the country that have launched SimplyE, and it’s being tested and deployed in Washington, Connecticut, Texas, Georgia, and Montana. In addition, Rhode Island, Hawaii, the Maryland digital consortia, and American Samoa have begun the process of rolling out the platform. We have been working closely with these libraries to put together statewide ebook collections that include a wide variety of materials from different providers, including ebooks with flexible licensing terms and public domain works available through the DPLA Exchange. …”

The Public Library Association and Microsoft announce initiative to help expand internet access in rural communities during COVID-19 crisis | News and Press Center

“he Public Library Association (PLA) and Microsoft Corp. announced a new initiative today to increase access to technology in rural communities during the COVID-19 crisis. Microsoft will provide funding to help public libraries in rural communities extend WiFi access by installing public WiFi access points on or near library grounds….”

The Public Library Association and Microsoft announce initiative to help expand internet access in rural communities during COVID-19 crisis | News and Press Center

“he Public Library Association (PLA) and Microsoft Corp. announced a new initiative today to increase access to technology in rural communities during the COVID-19 crisis. Microsoft will provide funding to help public libraries in rural communities extend WiFi access by installing public WiFi access points on or near library grounds….”

You can now download over 300,000 books from the NYPL for free

“There’s good news for all the New York City-based e-bookworms out there. The New York Public Library has an app that allows anyone with a library card (and an iOS or Android phone) to “borrow” any of the 300,000 e-books in the collection.

It’s called SimplyE and will allow you to read books on your phone, but beware, there might be a wait list for some popular titles, including the Game of Thrones series. (Check out the Harry Potter books, quick!) …”