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The Harper Collins Boycott, and What 26 Checkouts Look Like

Over last weekend, while librarian outrage over HarperCollins’ decision to limit ebook loans (among other restrictions) grew, librarians Brett Bonfield and Gabriel Farrel launched a project, Boycott HarperCollins. Kate over at the Loose Cannon Librarian sums up the rationale for joining the boycott as well as I could state it, and this week I’m too pushed to do more than this brief update.

Also see this great video from the Pioneer Library System: What 26 Checkouts Look Like; and visit the comments (some quite tart, but most are cogent) on the “open letter” from Harper Collins.

I wrote Brett yesterday to suggest the boycott also reference the other two issues that are important: HarperCollins’ resistance to consortial agreements, and their desire to begin meddling in library card policy.

But really, if this boycott sticks to this one point, I’m more than satisfied. We can work this issue from various angles, but I’m committed to all action that defends readers’ rights and advocates on behalf of the written word.

Yes, we librarians waited a while to address this issue. Yes, we could be better at planning and coordinating. Yes, we sometimes wait for “them” to solve our problems.

But I’m delighted to see us acting at all. I’m proud that there are people in our profession who saw this as important enough to act boldly. I support them. I support us.

We hang together, or we hang separately.

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  1. I’m rather surprised that the card policy thing that was tossed in there has not gotten the same sort of attention. They basically want us to audit our patrons to make sure they qualify as borrowers which we do anyway every damn day. It’s a bigger meddling into our business than the limited number of circulations since it involves patron privacy.

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Permalink
  2. Kate wrote:

    Andy, I definitely sat up and paid attention when I got to that part – it’s more than meddling in checking ID.

    Consortia like mine share an ebook collection. Patrons must be from a library that participates in our Overdrive program, but we don’t have to buy a copy of each ebook for each library (which would be unsustainable). We buy multiples of popular titles, but the ebooks pretty much function like our paper books – any patron from a participating library can read them.

    The implication, as I read it, is that they are moving towards single-library collections that can’t be shared. It would certainly mean a lower likelihood of hitting the 26 circ mark, but it would also mean many libraries would not be able to afford ebooks at all.

    Thursday, March 3, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Permalink
  3. That’s what I read, Kate, and it’s huge. In a way it’s as big as the 26-circ issue, but not as easy to explain to people.

    Friday, March 4, 2011 at 9:35 am | Permalink
  4. Tom Peters wrote:

    Yes, I agree. This is huge. As a distribution and use system, print has certain limitations and inherent governors that actually result in increased sales for HC and other publishers. Electronic distribution basically removes those restrictions (in theory), which has publishers scrambling to impose some new, artificial governor (e.g., each copy can be used by only one person at a time; each person must go to the physical library to obtain a library ebook; no more consortial sales, and so on). We need to defend the rights of readers in the eReading era, so we all don’t get locked into some crazy world that retards the real power of digital distribution.

    Monday, March 7, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink
  5. Hello, I am trawling the internet looking for outraged librarians who will take notice of a problem I’ve noticed. This thread about a librarian-organized boycott seemed like the thing but I apologize because this is a bit spammy, I just don’t know the best place to post this.

    I was just reading an excerpt of the SAGE-published book Encyclopedia Of Educational Reform And Dissent edited by Thomas C. Hunt, an academic who evidently spends much of his time writing on the intersection of religion and education. The bit I was reading, the entry on the Massachusetts Bay Colony Old Deluder Satan Law of 1647, appears to dissolve into a diatribe promoting home schooling. I posted a review of the book at WorldCat mentioning this where you can see a more detailed description. (Tried to add the link to the review here but it might get stripped when I submit as an anti-spam measure.)

    This looks like part of the gradual Tea Party type creep of rewriting history from an ideological perspective. Is there any good site or organization that tracks that phenomenon where I can report this?

    Sunday, March 13, 2011 at 7:53 am | Permalink

7 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Harper Collins fires a shot at libraries « librarian tea on Thursday, March 3, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    [...] are librarians calling for a boycott of Harper Collins, but, of course, most of us will probably not do so.  In addition ALA has made no real statement [...]

  2. The Other Shoe of #hcod « Agnostic, Maybe on Wednesday, March 9, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    [...] that there was more than one outrageous aspect in the Overdrive dispatch to libraries over eBooks, Karen Schneider reminded me that there was another bombshell that went with the limited eBook checkouts. I’ll [...]

  3. The Other Shoe of #hcod | The Digital Reader on Thursday, March 10, 2011 at 9:41 am

    [...] that there was more than one outrageous aspect in the Overdrive dispatch to libraries over eBooks, Karen Schneider reminded me that there was another bombshell that went with the limited eBook checkouts. I’ll [...]

  4. HarperCollinsGate: Some Thoughts « The Scholarly Kitchen on Monday, March 21, 2011 at 5:31 am

    [...] of course, and have expressed their concern with various degrees of heat. Karen Schneider, blogging at FreeRangeLibrarian, implicitly characterized the new policy as an attack on readers’ rights and on the written word [...]

  5. A few words from Amy · Librarians against DRM on Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    [...] in case you hadn’t heard, there’s been a kerfluffle about DRM (Digital Rights Management) and the stance that HarperCollins is taking with regard to [...]

  6. [...] out this great post over at Free Range Librarian that shares links to a boycott of HarperCollins and a great video of [...]

  7. [...] Free Range Librarian: [...]

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