Publishers Worry as Ebooks Fly off Libraries' Virtual Shelves

Checkouts of digital books from a popular service are up 52 percent since March. Publishers say their easy availability hurts sales.

This seems pretty scummy. I just can’t think through justifying morally why an ebook license shouldn’t be permanent with an unlimited number of checkouts. Making sure authors[^edit] can be paid is very important, but the institution of the library is older and more important than the institution of the book-shaped book– none of the defects of a physical book should intrinsically shape the nature of a library!

[^edit]: And editors and such, though I can’t speak to the importance of The Publisher.


I haven’t read a good book on copyright issues in the digital age and don’t have a clear-eyed view of what a good system would be, but yeah invoking library fines and friction as justification is pretty weak and scummy.

Macmillan CEO John Sargent said he worried there was too little friction in library ebook lending. “To borrow a book in [the pre-digital days] days required transportation, returning the book, and paying those pesky fines when you forgot to get them back on time,” he wrote in a letter announcing the policy. “In today’s digital world there is no such friction in the market."

Maybe we should copyright everything, and cause more friction.

A space dedicated to the discussion of innovations and changes to technology