The Big Six Hear from Libraries

A panel entitled “Redefining the Dialogue between Libraries and Publishers” at the Association of American Publishers annual meeting yesterday featured ALA President Molly Raphael; Jim Neal, Columbia University libraries; and Tony Marx, NYPL.

Reportedly, Marx “generated the most drama” (the UK’s trade publication, The Bookseller), giving an “impassioned address,” (Publishers Lunch). The audience included John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan and David Young, CEO of Hachette Book Group, two of the houses that do not currently sell ebook to libraries for lending,

The other librarians were not in agreement with Marx’s suggestion that libraries should consider introducing more “friction” into the lending of ebooks to address publishers’ fears that library lending will destroy the nascent consumer market for ebooks. Raphael objected to his idea that libraries could stop lending ebook best sellers, focusing instead on “the backlist; on how we can promote people to read…. Books that might not be producing much revenue to your industry. As an educator, I know how much valuable information is stored there.” (Publishers Lunch)

Neal “vociferously opposed” Marx’s suggestion that NYPL would be willing to force users to come to the library to download ebooks (Publishers Lunch).

The reports don’t indicate if anyone pointed out that  library budgets already impose a great deal of “friction” into the process, limiting the number of copies of ebooks libraries can buy.

Library Journal reports that a lawyer in the audience noted that “anti-trust concerns might hamper publishers in collaborating to develop a business model and suggested that these could come from the library side instead; Raphael responded that ALA already had a working group in place to develop such options.”

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