Monday, April 9, 2012

Give people time to read.

Harper Collins proposed a 26 loan cap on titles they license to libraries. The thinking was that if a book could be checked out for two weeks it could be circulated 26 times in a year. Restricting an ebook to 26 checkouts was equivalent to the use that a paper library book would have in a year.

This entire issue is contentious and I do not want to debate the number of checkouts in a year. What I did want to discuss was what changes could be made in regards to how checkouts are done if there is going to be a 26 check out cap on a book.

When I check an ebook out from the library why do I have to “return it” after 7 or 14 days? There is no “return” that is actually happening. I am using a digital file and after a certain date the file stops working. The whole idea behind checking out a book from the library is that it will be read. Why can I not take a month or two to read the book?

If we are going to have publishers put a cap on the number of loans why not free up the length of the loan? Why not allow the book to be read over a year? With the cap of 26 the book can only be loaned to 26 people. Why not allow each of these people to have up to one year to read the book?

Longer loan times would allow more people to make use of library books. People are busy and often they cannot finish a book is 7 - 14 days. Now that we have ebooks why not give people time to read?


  1. Agreed that the 7-14 checkout period allows those of us who read quickly to have the advantage. How many people have never attempted a book, in any format, because they knew that they'd never be able to finish it in time.

  2. Unfortunately, it's one use at a time. If you let people have it up to a year, then the fifth person waiting for it won't get it for five years. And heaven help the 26th person on the hold list.

    Maybe a month would be better, but a year is not feasible with the model the publishers are using at this time.

    1. If they limit to 26 uses of the book why do we have to limit to one checkout at a time. The publisher is protected from unlimited use by the 26 cap they have imposed. This suggestion of lengthened loan times assumes simultaneous use. With physical books we cannot have simultaneous use but with ebooks we can. For those librarians that start to object for licensing reasons you are correct that current license do not allow simultaneous use but that can be changed. If publishers are going to request limited checkouts in the license libraries may want to request license changes also by asking for simultaneous use which would allow for extended checkout times because you would not have to have patrons waiting for a digital file to be "returned".