I know I’m supposed to be boycotting HarperCollins because they hate libraries (and apparently LJ Smith), but I’m not going to deny myself a good book because they don’t want to play nice with their eBooks (and anyway, their stupid rule doesn’t start until March, so I’m in the clear until then, right?).
Sarcastic me has lots of boycott related questions: Am I supposed to boycott ALL HarperCollins materials or just their eBooks…and if I’m only borrowing from the library, does that count? Should I punish the authors by not raving about their book if their publisher is HarperCollins? Will someone be providing a list of all HarperCollins imprints so I can boycott those too? I mean, I’m halfway through The Fates Will Find Their Way and I LOVE it (but it’s from a HarperCollins imprint)…I’m even going to incur an overdue fee from the library so I can finish it (which you can only do if you check-out physical books, by the way, because eBooks already self-destruct after the predetermined check-out period).
Less sarcastic me wonders: is it really the fault of HarperCollins? Isn’t it a far larger issue that deals with copyright law and technology? Shouldn’t we have more of an issue with OverDrive? Shouldn’t we be asking ourselves why we’re letting non-libraries dictate how eBook lending in libraries should work? Why are we letting OverDrive negotiate when it should be LIBRARIANS making the deals? I mean, OverDrive is the only vendor (maybe not ONLY, but the most popular) that’s even taking on eBook lending and everyone pays their exorbitant fees because they think it’s what patrons want. If taxpayers really knew how much was being spent on these ridiculous databases and services (like Freegal and OverDrive), I’m sure they would have a lot of questions.
We (libraries/librarians) spend a whole lot of money on things we DO NOT OWN. All those databases? Yeah, we’re just leasing the rights. If we stop paying, we have nothing to show for all that money spent. Sure our patrons may have a few PDFs on their computers (I know I still do from my school days) and they might even have a few hundred songs they downloaded from Freegal, but what does the library have?
Sure, everyone likes the idea of free eBooks and free music, but is that why libraries exist — are we just there to give patrons the hot item of the moment? I think copyright law has A LOT to do with why we’re in this position, but I’m not totally sure where to start on that…perhaps a letter to John McCain? Maybe the ALA could do something?
If you want to know more about this HarperCollins/Overdrive mess, check out what these far-wiser-than-me folks have to say:
Library eBook Revolution, Begin – Librarian in Black
HarperCollins and the Suspension of eBook Disbelief & OverDrive and the Library eBook Lending Paradox (interesting comments, too) - Go to Hellman
The Publisher of Tolkien Has Taken a Lesson from Sauron – Agnostic, Maybe
You can also check out the hashtag #hcod on Twitter for bitter/funny/sarcastic comments in 140 characters or less.