by Dan Moren
Getting ebooks from your library is still fraught
Daniel A. Gross, writing for The New Yorker:
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. “The point of a library is to preserve, and in order to preserve, a library must own,” Bustillos wrote. When I asked Potash about libraries and their growing digital budgets, he argued that “digital will always be better value,” but he acknowledged that, if current trends continue, “Yes, there is a challenge.”
The experience of checking out ebooks from the library has definitely gotten better, but so much of it remains a frustration, because of the attempts to apply the same models that worked with physical books to ebooks. It’s certainly not an easy needle to thread, but digital books are only going to be more in demand going forward, and I don’t think we’ve reached the final form yet.