ALA Representatives Meet with Publishers

American Libraries has published an article about a recent meeting between members of the American Library Association with "Penguin Random House, Hachette Book Group, the Book Industry Study Group, Metropolitan New York Library Council, and Brooklyn (N.Y.) Public Library."

Entitled "Finding Common Ground in New York," the article discusses ALA's advocacy for new e-book models: As with previous visits, ALA pressed the case for more options on e-book licensing models. Pricing remains high for many titles, especially bestsellers . . . . In addition, many publishers, and the Big Five in particular, offer only one licensing option. While a perpetual license, 26-loan license, or two-year license may be a reasonable business model for some titles for some libraries, the model is hardly optimal for all. For example, a perpetual license (and its corresponding high price) is far from desirable to support a public program, book club, or initial high demand of a new release."

No immediate breakthrough looks likely: "Publishers listened and talked about the market’s evolution. They indicated that they are open to proposals. If the library community is to make any headway, it will need to put its collective head down and do some hard research, make proposals, and come up with a new advocacy strategy, perhaps involving grassroots engagement."

This response is certainly better than a flat "no," but puts the onus on libraries to drive change. 

Matters outside of e-content were discussed: "The current divisive political environment was prominent on the agenda during the meetings. The publishing industry and library community have a longstanding common purpose to promote reading and literacy, free speech, and equitable access to materials. Both sectors have professional norms for clear, substantiated, and logical writing. One idea that received interest is the development of and consensus on common principles for the digital age. This principles project will be an initiative of ALA going forward."

ReadersFirst has long advocated the development of flexible and varied licensing models. We pledge support to efforts to create proposals and will ask our members for ideas. We also support the development of common principles for the digital age. Creating a partnership--but partnership it must be--is essential for ensuring the continued support for traditional library values of intellectual freedom, equitable access to quality information, and support for democracy in our republic.

Let's get started!