WILL UNWOUND #682: “The Answer to the Ebook Problem”February 14, 2012
The library world airways are all atwitter again with ebook outrage.
The latest in a long string of bad ebook news is that Penguin is taking their library ebook ball home with them. And last year we all thought that Harper Collins limitation of 26 circs per ebook was bad. Now…it’s looking pretty darn good. At least they’re playing ball with us.
In all this bad news there is some good news: we now know why publishers don’t like libraries lending out ebooks. The answer is FRICTION!!!
You absolutely must read this article in American Libraries magazine: Ebook Talks: The Details. It is one of the most revealing library articles I have ever read. It describes what happened at the high level talks between the ALA top brass and representatives of the Big 6 Publishers on the subject of making ebooks available to libraries. Here is the money paragraph:
“A key issue that arose in each meeting is the degree to which “friction” may decline in the ebook lending transaction as compared to lending print books. From the publisher viewpoint, this friction provides some measure of security. Borrowing a print book from a library involves a nontrivial amount of personal work that often involves two trips—one to pick up the book and one to return it. The online availability of ebooks alters this friction calculation, and publishers are concerned that the ready download-ability of library ebooks could have an adverse effect on sales.”
Here’s what I get out of this from the publishers’ perspective: friction is a good thing, which basically means that the harder we make it for library users to borrow an ebook the more publishers will support us. In other words publishers are in support of bad patron service…the badder the better!!!
This makes it easy. All we have to do is create a list of how to bring more “friction” to our ebook services. Here is my list:
- Make a 12 hour check out period for ebooks. That should be enough time for really serious readers.
- Renewals will cost $5 per book for additional 12 hour periods.
- All ebook lending will be done in the library.
- On-line checkouts of ebooks from mobile devices will be discontinued.
- All ebook collections will be cataloged solely in old card catalog drawers.
- The ebook service desk in the library will be labeled “EBOOK INFO FOR MORONS WHO BOUGHT EBOOK READERS WITH THE MISTAKEN NOTION THAT THEY WOULD GET HELP FROM THEIR LOCAL LIBRARY…HAHAHAHA”
- The ebook service desk will have a health warning: EBOOK READERS CAUSE BRAIN CANCER.
- The ebook service desk will have a button (like the ones at Lowes) that says: Push button for help. And just like at Lowes no one will show up. Then after 15 minutes a hidden speaker in the desk will pour forth canned laughter.
- Patrons who check out ebooks will be prohibited from checking out glue and paper books. It’s only fair to those patrons who can’t afford ebooks and thus have to rely solely on glue and paper.
- We will petition ALA to come up with a new set of eREAD posters with a series of very rich celebrities reading ebooks with the underlying message: “IF YOU’RE RICH ENOUGH TO AFFORD AN EREADER YOU DON’T NEED TO MOOCH OFF YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY”
Your thoughts? Is this enough “friction” for the publishers?