So, has everybody heard about HarperCollins gouging libraries for ebooks?

Library Journal:

In the first significant revision to lending terms for ebook circulation, HarperCollins has announced that new titles licensed from library ebook vendors will be able to circulate only 26 times before the license expires.

Smart Bitches blog:

In other words, the publisher sets a limit to the number of times a digital book can be lent, then when that limit is reached, that library must purchase another copy.

But wait! There’s more! That mysterious “publishers” referred to in the OverDrive email also says they want access to patron information.

[emphasis mine]

Cory Doctorow @ BoingBoing:

I've talked to a lot of librarians about why they buy DRM books for their collections, and they generally emphasize that buying ebooks with DRM works pretty well, generates few complaints, and gets the books their patrons want on the devices their patrons use. And it's absolutely true: on the whole, DRM ebooks, like DRM movies and DRM games work pretty well.

But they fail really badly. No matter how crappy a library's relationship with a print publisher might be, the publisher couldn't force them to destroy the books in their collections after 26 checkouts. DRM is like the Ford Pinto: it's a smooth ride, right up the point at which it explodes and ruins your day.


Hashtag #hcod
HarperCollins tweet regarding the mess:  We're reading your posts-and listening to our authors. If you want to share longer thoughts with us, email

Feel free to post additional links in the comments.

ETA: Courtney Milan, author, "On Eating Your Seed Corn":

Publishers, if you make it impossible for young people–those in the “under 25″ category–to support a good reading habit on their own dime, these people are not going to start magically spending money on books when they start making a decent income. No; at that point, they’ll already have started spending their time haunting hulu instead, where they can actually get free entertainment. And when they start making money, they’ll be buying iTunes streams of those shows they watched for free.


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