I’m unimpressed at Harper Collins’ move to limit the number of times an e-book that is bought by a library can be loaned to 26. Most limits on distribution of content are at least partly justified by the fact that they are designed to prevent new copyright infringing uses of that content (even if in practice they also limit fair uses of that text). However, this new rule limits libraries from operating in perfectly normal, legitimate ways. One might conceivably argue that some limit could be set to account for the fact that physical books bought by libraries have always had the physical limitation of only being lendable for a certain number of times before they deteriorated (that’s why they tend to buy more hardbacks). But would a hardback become effectively unreadable after 26 readings as a Harper Collins e-book now will be? And is that the rationale they are offering libraries?
Archive for the 'new readership' Category | back to home
Kassia Kroser has written an extensive and thoughtful blog post about sustaining book-related online conversations which goes into useful detail about many of the issues. Some of what she has been talking about (having a single place to go to to bring together discussion about a book) seems to be being tackled by the Open Library but while that site links to a few book review sites this still means in order to see a range of readers’ thoughts about a book you have to visit several sites.
To my mind the biggest problem for social reading at the moment is that aside from Amazon (whose reviews are not well-presented and whose database is deficient in a number of ways) there is no single site or service which has built up sufficient scale to act as a ‘one-stop-shop’ aggregator of meta-book commentary in the way that the IMDB for example is the ‘go to’ place to find meta-film commentary and information. Of course if such a space did exist you’d then have the problem of dealing with an effective monopoly – something we are already encountering to some extent with Amazon and online book purchasing – though if the space were owned and run by a consortium of publishers or by a not-for-profit organization then the risks would be less than would be the case if it were run by a single for-profit entity.