Published on March 3, 2014
Department of Consumer Protection E-Book Report State of Connecticut E-book Symposium February 28, 2014
E-Book Study Overview • Whether and How E-books are Made Available to Public Libraries • Problems with Current Practices • Recommendations • Questions
E-Book Transactions Differ From Traditional Book Sales • Different Treatment Under Copyright Law • E-book Transactions Typically Involve a ThirdParty Platform that Hosts the Content
Copyright Law • Owner can exclude others from reproducing or distributing the copyrighted work. • Rights last for the life of the author plus seventy years. • First sale doctrine allows buyers to sell or dispose of their copy.
First Sale Doctrine and E-Content • Capital Records v. Redigi • The transfer of digital content involves an unauthorized reproduction; • Public policy reasons for not extending the first sale doctrine to digital content. • Digital content does not degrade; • Digital content can be transferred instantaneously to anywhere at no almost no cost.
The Role of the Distributor • Between the publisher and library in the distribution chain. • Provides a platform for e-books to be transferred to library patrons in a way that is compatible with the library license. • Protects e-books from piracy.
E-Book Availability to Libraries • Literal Availability • Economic Availability
Literal Availability of E-books • Which books are relevant? • All e-books • E-books by the top publishers • New releases • Bestsellers
Status of Literal E-book Availability • Five of six top publishers make their e-books available to public libraries in Connecticut. • Four of those five make all of their books available; one provides only backlist titles. • The single hold-out has begun a pilot in New York whereby it is experimenting with making its books available at public libraries. * Although Penguin and Random House merged in 2013, they were treated separately for purposes of the study because their e-book policies continued to diverge.
Reason for Optimism Publisher E-books Available to Public Libraries in Connecticut 2012 2013 Available Limitations on Titles Available Limitations on Titles Hachette Yes Titles from 2010 and Yes earlier None HarperCollins Yes None Yes None Macmillan No N/A Yes Penguin No N/A Yes Limited number of backlist titles. None Random House Simon & Schuster Yes None Yes None No N/A No N/A
Economic Availability • Libraries are paying more than consumers for at least some e-books. • Some e-book licenses place limits on the number of circulations. • Other licenses require repurchase after one or two years.
Other Adjustments Associated with E-books • Cost of Distributor • Limits on interlibrary loans • Staff training and patron assistance • Lost revenue from used book sales
Problems with Current Practices • Some popular e-books are: • Unavailable • Only available at a high cost • Permit limited circulations • Have temporal limitations
Why This Matters • Libraries: • Promote Reading and Literacy • Help Bridge the Digital Divide • Provide Access and Training for New Technologies • Libraries must be able evolve to serve current technological needs of their communities.
Recommendations • Wait and See • Increase Library Funding • Develop State-owned E-book Platform
Wait and See • Libraries currently have access to many ebooks; • Availability is increasing; • Reason to believe publishers will continue to work with libraries on this issue: • Libraries are significant book purchasers; • Libraries are an important source of book discovery for avid readers; • Libraries can further demonstrate their value with a “Buy-It” link.
Increase Library Funding • Would enable more e-book purchases. • Opportunity cost as funding must come from somewhere. • Considered imposing a fee on book publishers.
Create an E-book Platform • Possible Benefits • Consolidate State purchasing power • Greater control over user interface • Increased ability for interlibrary loans • Long-term cost-savings • Expand e-content offerings
Create an E-book Platform • Potential Challenges • Initial and ongoing costs • Reaching consensus on system features and individual library contributions • May not be able to reach deal that permits ebooks by the top publishers on the State platform
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