Roger Sperberg wrote an interesting piece, “How to give away an ebook after you’ve read it” in the Teleread blog. Â He discusses the idea of patrons purchasing an ebook to read for themselves and donating it to the library when they are finished. Â Roger states, “If I buy an ebook ofÂ Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, then itâ€™s glued to me. Love it or hate it, I canâ€™t give it to the library for others to read. So why doesnâ€™t the library set up a program for donors: â€œBuy it in our name and weâ€™ll lend it to you first.â€I love the idea, Roger and wish it could happen. Â I’m trying to think of the issues promoting and preventing this from happen, many of which were mentioned in comments to Roger’s article. Â Unfortunately, my list of prohibitive items is much longer! Â But I’d love to change it. Â What else should be added to this list?How can we do this?
- Can we tie this to patron driven acquisition models, allowing patrons to purchase a book with a credit card from our aggregator accounts rather than using our own money? Â They can access the title first and when finished, it goes to the library. Â Being in an academic library we usually purchase titles with unlimited simultaneous users, so I guess the “I get the book first” idea is a mute point.
- Fictionwise’s libwise allows users to donate books to libraries….I don’t know much about this. Â Do other aggregators allow this feature too?
- Can libraries check out eBook readers and allow patrons to purchase titles they want to read then leave the title on the reader for the next user? Â Something tells me this is a big copyright/licensing nightmare.
Prohibitive factors of eBook donations
- Licensing, most individuals are purchasing an eBook with completely different licensing language, allowing for one person access. Â Library licensing agreements are quite different.
- DRM – how can we bypass the DRM placed on a $9.99 book in order to give the book to the library for open use?
- Format – can the formats of eBooks even be read by the eBook interface at one’s library?
- Cost – libraries generally pay more than list price for eBooks for a variety of reasons – 24/7 Â access,Â unlimitedÂ simultaneous users, etc. Â Will users be willing to pay more than list price to donate a book to the library?
- Subscriptions – many libraries purchase eBooks by subscribing to them rather than owning them…. but I guess donations could go towards the subscription price.
- Subject collections – many academic libraries purchase eBooks based on a subject collection rather than individual titles.
- Interfaces and readers – libraries are generally purchasing ebooks that run on a particular aggregator or publisher platform like EBL, ebrary, NetLibrary, Overdrive, Follett. Â General users are typically purchasing eBooks from Amazon, Fictionwise, or other retail establishments. Â How can we donate books to libraries when we aren’t even using the same tools to access?
- Gift book policies – love em or hate em, weeding through the boxes of print books donated to a library collection generally have more chaff than wheat. Â would the same be true with eBooks?
- book sales – ah, the 25 cent steal you got at the local library book sale. Â Will this disappear with eBooks?