E-books cause friction between libraries and publishers


    SUN columnist, and the Library Staff

    Last week we explored the unhappiness of some patrons because our new 3M e-book service is not compatible with Kindle e-readers. We explained that the problem lies with Amazon. In this column, we will look at the larger issue — the friction between libraries and publishers over e-books in today’s digital age.

    This is not just an academic discussion. New research from the Pew Research Center shows that one-third of Americans now own e-book readers or tablet devices, and Amazon sells more e-books than print books. Yet a recent Forbes magazine article pointed out that four of the six biggest publishers will not sell e-books to libraries at any price. The other two either price them very high (up to eight times the price to consumers on Amazon) or limit the number of lends per book to 26.

    Libraries argue that they play a vital role in advancing literacy in a society where bookstores disappear every day, while the number of books available to read has grown dramatically. The Forbes article said:

    “Even more than in the past, we will depend on libraries of the future to help discover and curate great books. For publishers, the library will be the showroom of the future. Ensuring that libraries have continuing access to published titles gives them a chance to meet this role….”

    Yet libraries and the Big Six publishers are fighting over how much e-books should cost, how they can be lent and who owns them. At the heart of the struggle is whether libraries increase book sales or cannibalize them. These are complex and contentious issues.

    Publishers say that library e-books hurt their sales because it is so easy and inexpensive (read: free) to borrow them from libraries. They say e-books don’t wear out and patrons can even borrow them without visiting the physical library.

    Libraries counter that sometimes they buy duds and, unlike Amazon and bookstores, they pay up front and are not permitted to pulp or return such mistakes. They say that while bestsellers probably are cannibalized, libraries help the sales of new authors and older titles, thus benefiting publishers as well as library patrons.

    Clearly, e-books present new and difficult issues for both libraries and publishers. We hope the situation can be resolved to everyone’s benefit. As Forbes said, “… public libraries are an integral part of the fragile ecosystem of reading in America. Without libraries to encourage new readers, foster book groups and promote communities of reading, publishers will find fewer readers for their biggest titles, and readers will have more difficulty discovering works not on the bestseller list.”

    Free Academy Award film

    Mark your calendars for movie night next Thursday, March 21, when we will show an Academy Award-winning film from this year, from 4-6 p.m. Our movie license does not allow us to publicize its title in this column, so it will be a fun surprise for you. Popcorn provided.

    Art for youngsters

    Kids in the first-third grades are invited to Art Attack, free hands-on art fun tomorrow (Friday, March 15) from 2-3 p.m.

    Teen crafts event

    Next Friday, March 22, from 1-2:30 p.m., Trina will host a free “Make It” crafts event for teens in the seventh through 12th grades, where you will have the opportunity to make jewelry. All supplies provided.


    “Cherish the First 6 Weeks” by Helen Moon is a step-by-step plan that promises to create calm, confident parents and a happy, secure baby. “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” by Jenny Lawson, described as a mostly true memoir, is a poignant and slightly hysterical accounting by a woman who felt she never fit in.

    Mysteries and thrillers

    “The Power Trip” by Jackie Collins is a sexy, sun-drenched thriller set on a luxury yacht off the coast of Cabo San Lucas. “Hit Me” by Lawrence Block tells of a hit man brought back into the business by the bad economy. “Alex Cross, Run” by James Patterson is the latest in the series featuring Detective Alex Cross.

    Other new novels

    “A Week in Winter” by Maeve Binchy chronicles a week in a holiday place on the coast of Ireland. This is the 12th book to appear on the New York Times hardcover bestselling list by this author, who died last July. “Firefly Island” by Lisa Wingate is a love story following a woman who marries and moves from Capitol Hill to a remote town in Texas. “Insane City” by Pulitzer Prize winner Dave Barry is an adventure at a destination wedding involving drugs, gangsters and danger from myriad sources.

    Short stories

    “Tenth of December” by George Saunders is a collection of short stories about class, sex, love, loss, work, despair and war. “Vampires in the Lemon Grove” by Karen Russell is a collection of stories about magical events.

    Books on CD

    “The Storyteller” by Jodi Picoult follows a woman whose new friend confesses a long-buried secret that will dramatically affect both their lives. “Red Velvet Cupcake Murder” by Joanne Fluke is the latest in the Hannah Swenson mystery series with recipes.

    “Blood of War” by Larry Bond is the fourth and final book in the Red Dragon Rising adventure series. “Until the End of Time” by Danielle Steel is about a young couple who leave the fast-paced life of New York City for a small parish in Wyoming. “Insane City” by Pulitzer Prize winner Dave Barry is an adventure at a destination wedding involving drugs, gangsters and danger from myriad sources. “See Now and Then” by Jamaica Kincaid follows the lives of a New England family over many years. “The Power Trip” by Jackie Collins is a thriller set on a luxurious yacht off the coast of Cabo San Lucas.

    Thanks to our donors

    For books and materials this week, we thank Lisa Peterson and several anonymous donors.

    Quotable Quote

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead (1901-1978), American anthropologist.


    For more information on library books, services and programs — and to reserve books from the comfort of your home — please visit our website at http://pagosa.colibraries.org/.