I noticed today on Galley Cat a notice that the web business Overdrive reports a 76% increase in downloads by library patrons. Overdrive makes available 50,000 books and 10,000 e-books to owners of iPods, Zune, or other electronic devices.

My question is: why would anyone spend money on an electronic book (or a print book) if they can download it for free without the customary waiting period that affects people who want to check out the latest releases in the library?

Leaving aside the authors for a moment, what do publishers think of this? Is this possible for music also?

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I don't know if America has that or not. My impression is that libraries decide to buy a book and they buy it. No getting permission from anyone first. Maybe I'm wrong about that.

Realistically speaking, I can't see a library buying a physical copy for every digital download. But I', guessing you're just talking about paying for it, not actually receiving a copy, right?
I think you're right, John. To the best of my knowledge, the author gets whatever royalty credit is due from the library's purchase, and that's it.
Yes, as far as I know the libraries here decide which books they want to buy and then buy them. The PLR pay writers depending on how many libraries buy the book (though it tops out at just a few libraries, never more than a few hundred dollars per book per year)

and yes, I'm just talking about paying for the access to the digital files, not buying a physical copy for each one. so, right now if a library might buy ten copies of a book that was in high demand. For an e-book that gets downloaded a lot they could "buy" it for more than an e-book that rarely gets downloaded.

I guess I'm not much of a communist and I don't like the idea that every book is worth the same no matter how many people are interested in it.
Libraries have control over what they purchase, but I've heard they use certain critical reviewers to guide their choices. Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, LIbrary Journal, Romantic Times Magazine and others. If you get a good review with these sources, you might get picked up by a library depending on their budget and final approval process.
Well, I'm counting on their impatience sending them to the store or Amazon, John D. :)
In Canada, libraries pay the publisher a little something for each use of the book, John M., and that would be a lovely thing in the U.S. Actually, some of my books are in some Canadian libraries. I wonder, do they pay American authors, too?
The only payment the publishers get from the book is the sale of the books themselves.

The Public Lending Right money comes directly to the author, but sorry, only Canadian authors qualify.
Thanks. A bit disappointing. But how strange! You'd think the publisher would collect the Public Lending Right money also, considering that there is an advance to be recouped.
Well, ninety percent of Canadian publishing is small press. Advances are very small, a few hundred dollars and the first three an author recieves in their career are 100% tax deductable for publishers. So there really aren't many advances to be recouped.

Really, we're still mostly talking about hundreds of dollars here, not thousands.
Still, you get respect. :)
This is an interesting discussion. I read on PW that one of the biggest gifts this year was the Sony Reader and the Amazon Kindle. This could be a push toward the green concept of saving a tree. And this product could also be geared for college aged students who could load a number of books onto a reader for school.

I've heard that FOR NOW of the people who read, only 20% or so would use a reader like this. Most folks still like the smell of a good book in their hands. And the cost of an e-book is not heavily discounted as compared to a paper book, because the main cost to produce a book is spent on authorship, editorial, and marketing--not printing. So e-books are a little cheaper than buying a book at Walmart, for example--but not much less. So if price is important, then it might come down to reader preferences in reading and not a negligible price difference.

I do google alerts for my titles and name. And I've gotten email alerts with library links where the library has bought 1 or 2 books but allow a patron to make multiple copies for the various hardware they may have. They are instructed on copyright but are on the honor system to destroy/delete the copies they make after they are done reading. (Yeah, right. That'll happen.) The cynic in me is worried. There was also a long waiting list for my books. Normally this would be a good sign, but not these days when people think that everything available online should be FREE.

And don't get me started on international copyright laws that don't recognize the stricter laws of the U.S. There have been cases recently (I personally saw a site with my friends' books on it) where international online sites actually make their own scan of books (not going through the publishers tighter controls) and resell them online as their own. One illegal book scan was sold 1000 or more times the day I saw it. And all we can do is bring it to the attention of our respective houses and hope they can pursue this through their legal dept. It's a scary & greedy world out there.

I also think it will be important to pay more attention to the electronic rights in future publishing contracts. I've already heard rumblings on royalty split changes coming on forward contracts. In many contracts there is a 50/50 split if the house sells the e-book rights to a third party, but nothing is specifically mentioned if the house retains the right themselves. There's only a clause saying they will negotiate in good faith. Some authors are pushing for 50% of net or 25% of cover price on e-books to compensate. Not sure how that's been received.

Jordan Dane
EVIL WITHOUT A FACE (Feb 2009) Avon HarperCollins
Exactly my thoughts! And I also suspect that some illegal scanning of one of my books has taken place, with copies now available at the web site. The trouble is I can't get the web site up to check it out.
I've heard that once they know someone is aware of their activities, they close that site and just open in another name. That's what happened recently with a group of authors tracking this. The loop links went everywhere, then the next day, this site was shut down. It's crazy.


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