Update on e-book friction between libraries and publishers

SUN columnist, and the Library Staff

In past columns, we have explored the friction between libraries and publishers over e-books — particularly around publishers refusing to offer their e-book titles through libraries, dramatically raising prices or imposing other restrictions.

The good news is that there has been some progress.

All of the “Big Six” publishers are now engaged in library e-lending pilot programs or provide at least some of their titles for purchase by libraries. (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, Random House and Simon & Shuster are called the “Big Six” because they control about two thirds of the U.S. consumer book publishing market. With proposed mergers in the works, the number of publishing houses could drop to four.)

While any progress is welcome, there still are too many restrictions. For example, Simon & Schuster still denies to libraries their popular e-book titles such as “Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin and “Bruce,” the biography of Bruce Springsteen by Peter Ames Carlin. Other examples: Macmillan won’t allow libraries to buy “Killing Kennedy” by Bill O’Reilly, and Penguin has a one-year expiration date on e-books like “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett. Hachette will now offer all its e-book titles to libraries — but at three times the highest price of any edition than in print. HarperCollins and Random House let their e-book titles circulate only 26 times before the license expires.

These are complex and contentious issues.

Libraries argue that they play a vital role in advancing literacy in a society where bookstores disappear every day, while the number of books available to read has grown dramatically. At the heart of the struggle is whether libraries increase book sales or cannibalize them.

Publishers say that library e-books hurt their sales because it is so easy and inexpensive (read: free) to borrow them from libraries. They say e-books don’t wear out and patrons can even borrow them without visiting the physical library.

Libraries counter that sometimes they buy duds and, unlike Amazon and bookstores, they pay up front and are not permitted to return such mistakes. They say that while bestsellers probably are cannibalized, libraries help the sales of new authors and older titles, thus benefiting unknown authors, publishers and library patrons.

Clearly, e-books present new and difficult issues for both libraries and publishers. We hope the situation can be resolved to everyone’s benefit. But at least some progress is being made.

Book sale next weekend

The Friends of the Library’s annual book sale takes place Aug. 16 and 17 at Centerpoint Church, 2750 Cornerstone Drive, in the Aspen Village Center south of U.S. 160 (note new location). Friday, Aug. 16, is the Friends of the Library short annual meeting, potluck and preview sale from 6-9 p.m. The sale opens to the public on Saturday, Aug. 17, from 8 a.m.-1 p.m.

This event is a great deal for you and for the library: You get hard cover and paperback books, videos, CDs and DVDs at greatly discounted prices, and the library benefits from this hugely important fund-raising event for us. We hope you’ll take this opportunity to join the Friends of the Library, which you can do at the door on Friday evening. Individual membership is $15, family membership is $25 and lifetime membership is $100 per person.

Free tech programs

Meg Wempe is available for the highly popular Tech Tuesdays and Thursdays sessions 10 a.m.-noon Tuesdays and 3-5 p.m. Thursdays. Join her for one-on-one informal help on your computer or tablet issues. More formal sessions requiring advance registration are Auto Repair Online Resources on Monday, Aug. 12, from 12:30-2:30 p.m. about free resources to help you repair a troublesome motor in a lawn mower, snowmobile or ATV; and Facebook Basics for Individuals (not businesses) on Wednesday, Aug. 14, and Monday, Aug. 19, from 12:30-2:30 p.m.

Free teen programs

Every Wednesday from 3-4:30 p.m. we host Teen Gaming (X-box, Wii, board games) and Card Battles, starting with Pokemon Card Battles, but you are welcome to bring other trading card battle games. Snacks provided.

Adult trivia time

Test your knowledge against other adults and win prizes at this free, fun session next Thursday, Aug. 15, at 6 p.m.

Wise traditions

Zoe Groulx hosts Wise Traditions on the second Saturday of every month, with lectures and discussions on dietary needs, agriculture, medical traditions and more. The next session is this Saturday, Aug. 10, from 3-4:30 p.m.

Help with math

We have seven new books to help hone your math skills: “Pre-Calculus for Dummies/second edition” by Yang Kuang and Elleyne Kase, “Calculus for Dummies” by Mark Ryan, “Algebra I for Dummies” and “Algebra II for Dummies” by Mary Jane Sterling, “College Algebra Demystified/second edition” by Rhonda Huettenmueller, “Trigonometry Demystified/second edition” by Stan Gibilisco and “Trigonometry for Dummies” by Mary Jane Sterling.

Large print

“The Horses” by Bill Brooks is a western featuring Jim Glass.

“Smarty Bones” by Carolyn Haines is a Sarah Booth Delaney mystery. “When Hell Came to Texas” is a western by Robert Vaughan. “Butch Cassidy: The Lost Years” is a western by William W. and J.A. Johnstone.

Books on CD

“Hunting Eve” by Iris Johansen features forensic sculptor Eve Duncan. “Beautiful Day” by Elin Hilderbrand explores the troubles and complexities of a family at a wedding.

“Bomb Shell” by Catherine Coulter is the latest in the FBI series featuring Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock.

Mysteries and thrillers

“The Widow’s Strike” by Brad Taylor is the fourth book in the Pike Logan thriller series. “The English Girl” by Daniel Silva is the latest in the mystery series featuring Gabriel Allon. “The Curiosity” by Stephen P. Kiernan is a thriller about a man buried deep in Arctic ice found and brought back to life. “Please Don’t Tell” by Elizabeth Adler follows a mysterious stranger who may or may not be a serial killer. “Stranded” by Alex Kava is the latest thriller featuring special agent Maggie O’Dell.

Other new novels

“Big Girl Panties” is a romantic comedy by Stephanie Evanovich. “Freud’s Mistress” by Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman is set in turn-of-the-century Vienna. “Finding Colin Firth” by Mia March is about three women connected in secret yet surprising ways.


“Herbie Fully Loaded” is a new Disney comedy adventure. “The Adventures of Black Stallion” covers season one, volume one. “Gone Fishin’” stars Danny Glover and Joe Pesci. “What About Bob?” is a comedy starring Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss. “School of Rock” is a comedy starring Jack Black. “Little Miss Sunshine” is about an endearing fractured family. “42” is the life story of Jackie Robinson. “The Never List” by Koethi Zan is about the aftermath of a gruesome kidnapping.

Thanks to our donors

For books and materials this week, we thank Medora Bass, Bob and Carole Howard, Jack Latson, Amy Persson, Jeanette Pike and Catherine Williams.

Quotable Quote

“It is the nature of man to rise to greatness if greatness is expected of him.” — John Steinbeck (1902-1968), American Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize winning author.


For more information on library books, services and programs — and to reserve books, e-books, CDs and DVDs from the comfort of your home — visit our website at http://pagosa.colibraries.org/.

This story was posted on August 8, 2013.