I wrote yesterday that lending is one of the critical issues to be solved if eBooks are to capture the youth audience in particular and larger audiences in general.
It turns out that one of the Big Six publishers agrees, that being Random House. As Andrew Albanese notes in yesterday’s Publishers Weekly:
At a meeting with ALA leaders this week in New York, Random House officials said the “terms of sale” for Random House e-books to libraries will change, with a price increase coming. But the publisher reiterated its commitment to library e-book lending, saying they would continue to enable e-book lending of their entire list for both adult and children’s titles, backlist and frontlist, without restriction.
This policy contrasts with its Big Six rivals HarperCollins (which limits lends), Penguin (which restricts title availability, as does Hatchette) and Macmillan and Simon & Schuster (which don’t allow lending at all).
Early returns are that libraries are ok with the price increase in exchange for unrestricted access, since they already pay more for library versions of books (Albanese calls it a “fair trade”). The American Library Association, meanwhile, pegs the lending issue as topping its list of priorities. Says ALA Executive Director Keith Fiels:
I still have people approach me and ask how libraries feel about e-books, and well, libraries can’t get enough of them. Which is obviously where the big issue comes up, because you have some publishers that will not make e-books available to libraries. From a triage standpoint, this is a serious issue, and there’s been a lot of interest expressed on part of ALA members that we take a strong stance on this.
The good news is that publishers and the ALA are in talks to resolve these issues. I wish them well. Actually, I wish that all the other publishers would slavishly copy Random House. Props, Random House. Props.