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Tuesday
Mar082011

Librarians Boycott HarperCollins Over E-Books

JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In what is shaping up to be a major battle over e-book lending, librarians across the country have banded together to boycott HarperCollins after the publisher decided it would limit the number of times an e-book can be checked out.

Under a new policy started Monday, HarperCollins will allow libraries lend out a digital version of a book just 26 times before the license expires. After that, the libraries must pay to lease the e-book again, so that another 26 readers can check out the book.

As more readers migrate to digital books and e-readers, publishers are under increasing pressure to create new business models to help them turn a profit. But since HarperCollins announced its decision last month, librarians have taken to the Web in protest, saying the plan will ultimately bring libraries to their knees.

When contacted by ABC News, a HarperCollins spokeswoman referenced a statement released by the company last week.

"We are striving to find the best model for all parties. Guiding our decisions is our goal to make sure that all of our sales channels, in both print and digital formats, remain viable, not just today but in the future. Ensuring broad distribution through booksellers and libraries provides the greatest choice for readers and the greatest opportunity for authors' books to be discovered," the statement said.

In the statement, HarperCollins said it spent several months talking to agents, distributors, and librarians before making its decision. It came up the 26 loan limit per book after looking at a number of factors, including the average lifespan of a traditional print book.

For the books with the highest demand, 26 circulations provides a year of availability, the company said, adding that less popular books could last even longer. When libraries repurchase a book after hitting the limit, the price will be even lower, as it will reflect the paperback price.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio