“Ostensibly, publishers and libraries ought to be on the same side: libraries aim to advance learning by providing free and open access to information; publishing literally means to disseminate to the public. Big publishers suing a digital library for furthering this common mission—during an unprecedented assault on libraries’ purpose and function—is a weird look. It’s also unclear what it actually does for writers. Most authors—some estimates say up to 70 percent—don’t earn royalties beyond their book advances and will never have the luxury of worrying about income from the sale of their works in digital formats. The funds under dispute, by and large, go straight back to the publishers.
This situation leaves writers awkwardly caught in the middle. Supporting libraries isn’t just an abstract feel-good principle: it can also have a material effect on a book’s fate. Libraries feature titles, offer programming, and choose how many copies to order. At the same time, writing is a financially precarious enterprise. The prospect of a library buying one copy of your book, scanning it, and lending it out ad infinitum is, admittedly, horrifying. But the Internet Archive decision doesn’t just prevent that outcome—it may also affect libraries’ rights to lend single scanned copies of books that they have already purchased….”