Thursday, March 10, 2011

HarperCollins has made up my mind for me

HarperCollins has decided to limit the circulation of its electronic books to 26 times. After that, the book would need to be repurchased. (From Medill Reports Chicago) So far they are the only publisher to impose this stricture, but they have made up my mind that I will not be buying E-books any time soon, even though I appreciate the E-Arcs that they provide via NetGalley.

I pulled a random copy of Darren Shan's
Hunters of the Dusk (2005) from my shelf to count the number of circulations. According to the 26 circulation limit, this book would have had to be repurchased after two years. It has circulated 76 times. (I have a date due stamp sheet in all my books.) It is in surprisingly good shape, so will probably circulate 76 more times. I have a copy of lThe Black Pearl that was here when the building opened in 1969. It's out right now, so I don't know how many times it has circulated in 40+ years.

Below is a list of books in my library that have circulated over three times the limit in the course of ONE year.

1.

The Hunger Games

Collins, Suzanne.

168

2.

The last Olympian : book 5

Riordan, Rick.

140

3.

The sea of monsters

Riordan, Rick.

120

4.

The Titan's curse

Riordan, Rick.

111

5.

The red pyramid

Riordan, Rick.

102

6.

Catching fire

Collins, Suzanne

99

7.

Twilight

Meyer, Stephenie

98

8.

CIRQUE DU FREAK

Shan, Darren

92

9.

Stormbreaker

Horowitz, Anthony

92

10.

Devil's footsteps

Richardson, E. E.

82

11.

Diary of a wimpy kid : dog days

Kinney, Jeff.

82

12.

The lost hero

Riordan, Rick.

80

13.

Vampire High

Rees, Douglas.

80

14.

SON OF THE MOB

Korman, Gordon

79

15.

13 little blue envelopes

Johnson, Maureen

77

16.

THE VAMPIRE'S ASSISTANT

Shan, Darren

77

17.

The battle of the Labyrinth

Riordan, Rick.

76

18.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Rowling, J. K.

76


(Statistics run through Follett's Destiny software: they seem a bit high, but I ran the report several times.)

Notice that some of the titles are older--
Vampire High dates from 2003 and has been consistently this popular. According to Harper Collins, I should have bought 24 copies of this, at a cost of approximately $360, instead of the $15 that I spent.

By the same reckoning, the cost of that number one
Hunger Games book would be $2,520, or OVER HALF of my entire yearly budget!!!

E-books DO have a built in expiration date-- does HarperCollins really believe that the current format will always be compatible with prevailing equipment? If so, they don't have any 5" floppies in their closet.

HarperCollins also has an Open Letter to Librarians. I will be sending them a link to this post.

While publishers certainly should be remunerated for their products, the current guidelines seem completely unrealistic in the context of my library.

3 comments:

Ben Langhinrchs said...

This was an excellent post to send to them, as it is very specific and detailed, and does not simply list the top book.

I can understand why publishers cringe at the idea of people borrowing the same book rather than buying a copy, but they are far more likely to dissuade libraries from carrying eBooks than anything else.

Perhaps this would even work if the limit were something like 120, after which many print books would be fairly worn, but 26 is ridiculous. At 120, you might even be willing to purchase a copy of those most popular books every year.

Still, I think the whole plan is a mistake. Over and over again, my kids (and I) have discovered authors through the library and then later bought books by that author.

Darla D said...

We did exactly the same thing at my library, looking at the circ stats of various popular titles. My library system (which has more than 20 branches) has decided at this point simply not to order any more Harper ebooks. Can't say I blame them.

Iron Guy Carl said...

We had some people form the Collection Development dept. come to our branch yesterday for a meeting. One of the things they talked about was the cost of ebooks and the prohibitive amount of difficulty the publishers put us and patrons through to download ebooks. As you noted, it's because they're afraid of the public getting ebooks for free instead of buying them. They also talked about the task force that is figuring out ways to improve functions and funding. The task force has started echoing what other people have said acrsso the country; that physical lbraries will become obsolete because "people will just download their books." Well, it won't be that easy!

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