Do as the Brits and the Germans Do

06 Dec

Library Building
In the past a reader had to drive or to walk down to the library and with all the traffic hassles, parking fees and stress sometimes came home empty-handed as the very book he wanted was not available or on a waiting list.

The new e-book library checkout program allows you to order ebooks  from your home or from the beach in Mexico with your new Kindle Fire or iPad.  Hit the order button and start reading the book. And  if you forget to return it, the book automatically gets checked back two weeks later. No lost books.  No late fees.  Great for library patrons. And your dog will not chew on them when you leave him in the car with nothing to do for him.

Publishers have always been uneasy about licensing e-books to libraries.
This spring HarperCollins decided to implemented a new policy where instead of just selling the library an e-book like they do to bookstores, they will only sell libraries a license to download the book 26 times. After that, the library would have to buy another copy. HarperCollins demands also that the libraries could only provide this service to library customers located in the communities they serve. Librarians certainly are not amused.

Last month Penguin Books announced that they were suspending their distribution of new digital books in Kindle format to libraries due to  “security considerations”. Penguin  and other major publishers will continue to license e-books in Adobe EPUB format, the format favored by all e-reader vendors except Amazon, for users of Apple iPad, Sony Reader or Nook.

Penguin USA Group has now returned its (older) e-book titles to lending library shelves after just a three day absence. The publisher pulled every one of its titles and also announced it was delaying the release of any of its new books to the Overdrive and Amazon lending services which power America’s libraries.  The publisher also has not restarted, nor said when it will restart adding their new titles to the services. The publisher set off a storm on November 22nd when it pulled its e-books, particularly with librarians across America.

In 1979 the British parliament passed the Public Lending Rights Act, demanding that authors receive a royalty of 12 cents for every time their book is checked out of a public library.  Other countries were writers receive some form of compensation for library check outs are:

– Germany
– Netherlands
– Israel
– Canada
– Australia
– Denmark
… all civilized societies who honor intellectual labor!

Countries that do NOT pay royalties for library check outs:
North Korea
United States of America…

1 Comment

Posted by on December 6, 2011 in Author Royalties


Tags: , ,

One response to “Do as the Brits and the Germans Do

  1. Dale Copps

    December 6, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Interesting article. Something, indeed, needs to be done to iron out all the eBook issues that exist and start getting eBooks into the hands of readers who are starved for them. I discuss this issue, including a proposal for pay-per-loans similar to that mentioned above, in The End of Libraries, at

    I hope the players will all get together soon and prove the title of my posts to be dead wrong. If they don’t, I fear the end is near.


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