I mentioned this on Risky Regencies Monday, but it bears repeating. The American Library Association has spearheaded a campaign called Authors for Library Ebooks to add author voices to those of librarians and readers in support of equitable access to digital content through libraries.
With the surge in ebook publishing and the growing popularity of ebooks with readers, libraries have been working in various ways to make ebooks available to their patrons, but sometimes the price libraries are forced to pay for ebooks is several times higher than the cost of an ebook to consumers or the cost of a print book. There is some logic to this, because theoretically an ebook can exist forever while a print book eventually becomes unusable, but in these economically strapped times, this sort of pricing is more than most library systems can afford. Other pricing options have been attempted limiting numbers of downloads of ebooks, and various businesses have sprung up to provide libraries with a mechanism for ebook borrowing.
Yesterday my agent described the state of publishing today as being “the wild wild west.” Everything is changing and changing rapidly and everyone in the industry is scrambling to adjust. Publishers want to survive. Authors want to make a living. Libraries want to continue to serve those whose access to books is limited without their existence. Increasingly publishing is turning away from print books in favor of ebooks. Ebooks are the future. I’m even one of those readers who prefer an ebook, and I can tell you my graduate-school-student daughter much prefers textbooks that come in ebook form than the heavy and expensive print texts.
I don’t pretend to know the solutions, but I do know the solutions must not leave any faction behind. I obviously want to continue to thrive as an author and I want publishers to thrive as well. But I think it is vitally important that books be available to libraries and I do not want libraries to suffer because of these changes, especially in these challenging economic times. So I did sign on to Authors for Library Ebooks, along with much more influential authors, such as Cory Doctorow and Jodi Picoult.
Special thanks to librarian extraordinaire, Mary K, who alerted me to this campaign.
What do you think? What do you think publishers and libraries should do about ebooks?