On March 7, 2011, the publisher HarperCollins instituted an expiration policy on eBooks that are licensed to libraries. Under this new arrangement, eBooks would "self-destruct" after being checked out 26 times. This would require libraries to re-purchase the eBook if they wanted to continue to make it available. Libraries across the country are boycotting future purchases of HarperCollins eBooks, but our voices alone will not change their policy. We need your help.
As Cory Doctorow wrote, "the durability of eBook is a feature, not a bug." To place a cap on the circulation of eBooks in order to "simulate" the wear and tear of a physical book is not only insulting to readers, but this video shows how easily it can be proven wrong with physical books.
The significant advantage of eBooks for libraries is that it allows people to borrow books from home and read them on their computer or ereader. When the book is due to be “returned” to the library, the file is rendered inert and the next library user can check out the eBook. Limiting a book to 26 total checkouts means that it could be there one day and gone the next, leaving that 27th borrower in limbo as the library assesses whether to re-purchase the eBook. If left in place, this policy would threaten public access to eBooks by making them disappear from the virtual shelf.
Please join us in voicing your opposition to this policy of self-destructing eBooks.
To see if libraries are still boycotting HarperCollins, you can visit the website Boycott HarperCollins.
- Brian Murray
- Josh Marwell
- Library eBook
I am writing to ask HarperCollins to drop its current limited checkout eBook policy to libraries and to develop an eBook policy that supports libraries' efforts to provide free information to the public.
If left in place, this policy would threaten public access to eBooks by making them disappear from the virtual shelf. In collecting a wide range of published materials, libraries offer continuing education to the general public at an extremely low cost. The authors of today are the influencers of the writers and thinkers of tomorrow; where will they be when the eBooks they seek are unavailable because a license ran out?
I stand with libraries across the country who are boycotting future purchases of HarperCollins eBooks until this policy is revoked.
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