The Digital is Ephemeral: Ebooks and the Future of Library Collections

“The reality is that “purchasing” digital content is not the same as “owning” it — at least not in any way that we’ve historically understood it. An individual owns a house until an ember ignites the roof and the house burns to the ground. A library owns a book until the spine splits and the pages fall out. But this kind of destruction can’t happen in the digital world. Digital books don’t have a “natural” lifespan, so publishers often invent one. HarperCollins did exactly that in 2011, when they decided that 26 checkouts of an ebook constituted the lifespan of that book. Upending a standing deal between the big six publishers and libraries, they began imposing restrictions on the shelf life of their ebooks — about one year of use — after which the book would vanish from the library’s collection. Prior to that, the agreement had been that once a library bought an ebook, it could lend it out, one reader at a time, an unlimited number of times, in perpetuity.”

Read the full article here:

The Digital is Ephemeral: Ebooks and the Future of Library Collections

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