Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The One Where HarperCollins Hates Libraries

Sorry for the hiatus, y'all. Lots going on, not feeling like talking about most of it.

There comes a time in everyone's life, I think, where you realize that big companies, with their millions of dollars of income every year, are really just out to screw you. I've already said my piece about insurance companies, but now I have a new company upon which to unleash my (completely justified!) bile: HarperCollins.

Most of you know I work in a library. I refer to myself as a librarian even though I haven't found the money to go back for my degree to make it official. But here's one thing I don't need a degree for: I love books. I love books as much as I love food, and you guys know that's a LOT.

When e-Books started being a thing, I worried. I worried that the printed book was going to go out of style in a few years, and I worried that I'd be forced to get an e-Reader just to read the books I love so much.

My house is full of books. There are books everywhere. I'm always reading. Books and reading and all that are all very important aspects of my life.

(I know I'm jumping around here, but I'm getting to the point.)

HarperCollins has decided that they are going to limit the number of times they are going to let libraries check out e-books. I've linked to the letter they posted, but the basic gist of it is that libraries may purchase e-books for check out, but they can only be checked out 26 times. HarperCollins has decided that after these 26 times are used up, the libraries must purchase the books again.

This is. . .infuriating to me. If libraries made a habit of buying books that would only last until they were checked out 26 times, we'd have nothing. We'd have no books on the shelves, and the point of libraries would be moot. HarperCollins is just going for the money. They don't care about getting the books out. They don't care about people reading. They care about the money.

If you go here, you can read a very eloquent open letter to HarperCollins that says everything I'd love to say here, but for some reason, am missing the words to say.

The writer of HarperCollins' "open letter to librarians" said, "Twenty-six circulations can provide a year of availability for titles with the highest demand, and much longer for other titles and core backlist."

Any book that lasts just a year? Has no room in a library. And if e-readers are the wake of the future and all that, why would you make it so hard for someone to get books on it? Why are you punishing people who maybe don't like holding books, but who like reading? (Like people who, up until this point, maybe used audio books.)

It seems that many libraries are boycotting HarperCollins or HarperCollins' e-books or whatever. I've got a whole list of things I'm boycotting, so maybe we just need to add HarperCollins to that list.

I'm not suggesting they give unlimited views for one price forever, but 26 views? Ridiculous.

What do you think? I think HarperCollins is all about how much money the can eke out of libraries who already are having to cut their budgets way, way down, and who just want to provide an inexpensive service to their patrons. I'm not saying we should get anything for free. But be reasonable, HarperCollins. All you're doing is pissing off the people who use you the most.

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