HarperCollins takes first step to kill off ebook libraries

The big 6 publisher HarperCollins (owned by Rupert Murdoch, curiously enough) has recently announced a new policy for ebooks lent from libraries. Libraries will now only be allowed to lend an ebook 26 times before they are forced to buy another copy.

Apparently HarperCollins believes that’s when the electrons that make up an ebook are worn out and need to be replaced. This story broke today because of a letter sent  out by Steve Potash, the head of Overdrive. That letter was only sent out to member libraries, but it fairly quickly started being passed around. Here’s the important part:

We have been required to accept and accommodate new terms for eBook lending as established by certain publishers. Next week, OverDrive will communicate a licensing change from a publisher that, while still operating under the one-copy/one-user model, will include a checkout limit for each eBook licensed. Under this publisher’s requirement, for every new eBook licensed, the library (and the OverDrive platform) will make the eBook available to one customer at a time until the total number of permitted checkouts is reached.

I have to admire some publishers; they work ceaselessly to make themselves only slightly less repugnant than pirates.

via Library Journal

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Sweetpea26 February, 2011

    “I have to admire some publishers; they work ceaselessly to make themselves only slightly less repugnant than pirates.”

    You mean, they work ceaselessly to make themselves much more repugnant than pirates…

    Did they research how often a pbook is lent out before it must be replaced? And is that 26 times? If so, I can, sort of, understand where they’re coming from.

    1. idi26 February, 2011

      What a wonderful thing . The future generations will be spared the tedious burden to read classical literature of the past millenia ( or months). F Book is more interesting . Don’t you think so?

  2. Rich Adin26 February, 2011

    FWIW, the BPHs and Overdrive are also screwing libraries on the cost. For example, the John Grisham book “The Confession” can be purchased by a library in hardcover for approximately $17.37 as compared to the ebook cost of $28.95.

    1. Nate the great26 February, 2011

      I’m not sure that it’s fair to include OD in the pricing complaint; the contract might not allow them to discount from the list price.

  3. […] ebooks at all. And then there was HarperCollins, who decided to limit ebooks to 26 checkouts (here, here). And now we have Penguin, except we don’t know what is going […]

  4. […] Random House, Macmillan, and Penguin – but without the restrictions (high prices & checkout limits) that 2 of the 4 put on the ebooks. That gives B&N library ebook content that you cannot get […]


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