…the publishing industry has lost its technological monopoly on the flow of information. This means that libraries can no longer identify ourselves as purchasing collectives for containers of information.
#HCOD sturm und drang
There has been much sturm und drang in library-land over Harper Collins recent decision to limit ebook circulation of their titles. Harper Collins has decided that after the 26th time one of their ebooks has circulated, it will expire and the library will need to purchase a new copy. A New York Times blog ran a piece on it and Bobbi Newman (Librarian-by-Day) has an excellent digest of the conversation. It has certainly stirred a hornets’ nest, but it remains to be seen whether this is itself a big deal, or whether it is merely a symptom of a deeper problem.
In circumstances like this one I tend to look for root causes and big picture solutions. This means that my contribution to the discussion should not be confused with practical, daily-running-of-the-library kinds of solutions. What I’m interested in sorting out is why is this happening and whatever is happening, where are we on the timeline of its progression? I’ve been trying to think and talk this issue out using twitter (@nnschiller) and my +/- 140 character response would be: Publishers are becoming an anachronism. Libraries risk the same if we single-source our content through the publishing industry. Phrased another way: The real problem can best been seen by analyzing artificial scarcity efforts. Neither really get at the core of the issue, so here is my attempt to connect some dots.