I’ve been ranting for a while that ebooks — and specifically publishers unwillingness to let libraries conveniently lend them, and publishers legal ability to prevent libraries from lending them (unlike print books) — are potentially a lending library catastrophe.
And thus something that the ALA, theoretically the trade organization that represents, advocates, lobbies, and educates the public on behalf of libraries — should be doing a LOT of all those things about.
So kudo’s to ALA for publishing a special issue of American Libraries on ebooks. It’s available online for free in a confusing hard-to-use flash format here. You can download a PDF from there too. Of course, for reading online, nothing beats HTML. It is available online in HTML (I think this is the whole issue?), but at a URL that seems like it always points to the ‘current’ American Libraries, so might not be good in a few months, sigh.
The most pertinent article to my concerns about libraries inability to lend ebooks in ways convenient for patrons and susitainble for budgets, is Warning: You Are About to Enter the Ebook Zone. By Robert C. Maier and Carrie Russell.
That article also suggests that ALA is starting to talk to publishers themselves on this issue, and advocate for libraries with them.
Indeed, ALA leaders have met with senior executives from the Big Six, who indicated that they are receptive to Association proposals. Of course, while the willingness to communicate is an essential first step, it is only just that.
It’s unclear what these “Assocation proposals” are. Is the ALA telling it’s members what it’s proposing to publishers, or asking for member input in this?
Likewise, while ALA meetings with publishers are an essential first step — it’s only a first step for what the ALA’s gotta to do too. This should be a huge issue, ALA should be consulting with members and telling them exactly what it’s doing — and ALA should be willing to escalate to popular marketting/education campaigns explaining to the public why publishers won’t let libraries lend ebooks, as well as lobbying congress on the disappearance of the first sale doctrine in an ebook world.