Libraries' ebook lending to be probed by government
28th Sep 2012 | 02:02
Will publishers and authors lose out?
The lending of ebooks by libraries will be subject to a government investigation, culture secretary Ed Vaisey has announced.
The e-lending review will examine the best ways of making digital books available through libraries and, in the process, will seek to ensure that all parties, including authors and publishers, benefit from the service.
Although some English libraries are already loaning out ebooks through devices like the Amazon Kindle, the panel of industry experts, will seek to establish the best practice for all libraries going forward.
"E-lending is currently in its infancy but growing fast," said Mr Vaisey.
"Just as e-readers are transforming the way people access books, e-lending could help transform the way people use libraries. By acting now we can help influence the growth of e-lending to ensure that libraries, authors, publishers and the public all benefit from this potentially valuable new service."
Meanwhile, publishers have expressed concern about the potential for a trend towards ebook lending, rather than ebook buying.
Publishers Association chairman Richard Mollet said: "When it is as easy to buy a book as to click a button and borrow one, a lot more people are going to take the borrowing option, and that has serious implications for authors and their royalties, for booksellers and as well for publishers."
Also, with a digital file holding much less potential for emotional attachment than a physical book, it seems fair to assume that there'd be even more of an incentive to pick up an ebook on a temporary basis.
MP Julian Thompson has suggested a small fee for e-lending, to be split between the library and the publishers. This will surely to be an option considered by the panel before it reports its findings in the New Year.