It’s now official; in a front-page story, the New York Times, the “national newspaper of record” writes that libraries are protesting HarperCollins new 26-loan restriction on library e-book lending (the NYT covered the story earlier, but in the “Media Decoder” blog. It’s also been covered by other newspaper, such as USA Today).
Ironically, this attention may serve to bring more users to libraries for ebooks. As the article notes, “It is still a surprise to many consumers that e-books are available in libraries at all.” Nevertheless, ebook lending has risen by 36% in the New York Public Library in the last year.
The story quotes Macmillan CEO Jon Sargent, one of the two major trade publishers that does not loan ebooks to libraries (the other is S&S), who says Macmillan will continue that policy until they “…find terms that satisfy the needs of the libraries and protect the value of our intellectual property.”
As to whether other major publishers will follow the HarperCollins’ approach, Stuart Applebaum of Random House says they have no immediate plans to do so, but will not rule out that possibility.
How important are library sales to large trade publishers? In an industry where statistics are difficult to come by, there are no reliable industry-wide figures. Two major trade publishers told the NYT reporter, “Sales to libraries can account for 7 to 9 percent of a publisher’s overall revenue.”