Last time I mentioned that publishers fear libraries. Today I’m going to show why they shouldn’t.
One of the reigning arguments against ebooks in libraries is that they don’t provide enough “friction” for readers. If library patrons can just log on and check out an ebook from the library, no one will buy one!
It’s bad logic, since the Stieg Larrson novels are available as library ebooks and they seem to have sold pretty well, but who cares about logic when you’re trying to sell books.
The argument is also true for print books. If print books are available from libraries, no one will buy them! Except of course they do.
I suppose the publisher’s argument, such as it is, is that if the books weren’t available in libraries, then people would buy them instead. That seems a dubious suggestion to me, because libraries are the place to get books that you don’t think are worth buying.
Libraries are for cheap people. As an example, take a look at Libraries are great places for savers. The “Discount Diva” of Buffalo, NY writes about how much cheap people can find at libraries.
As a penny pincher, I also appreciate all the money libraries have saved me over the years on books, CDs, newspapers, magazines and DVDs. They have spoiled me with access to databases I never could have afforded myself and created all kinds of programming that has enriched my life….
So how much more incredible is it now that my library magically beams free books directly to my e-reader? It’s like an episode of “Star Trek.”
She then goes on to talk about how great it would be to lend kitchen gadgets and have a “kitchen librarian” there to explain their use. I was surprised she didn’t want libraries to loan cars, with drivers to chauffeur people around.
And libraries let the whole community be cheap. Supposedly, a “recent report released by the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library shows that every $1 of funding received by our public library system returns a minimum of $6.70 in services.”
Studies like this make libraries look attractive to taxpayers, but are anathema to publishers.
Fearful publishers see that and think “for every $1 a library system is funded, we lose $5.70!”
And it gets worse!
The first comment is from someone who clearly has never heard of the RIAA or the random cavity searches the RIAA would like to perform on everyone in America. On this comment, he not only leaves his full name and city, but also a link to his website:
I can’t understand why people don’t use the library. It’s right there, it’s free, and they have tons and tons of great stuff. When i first got an ipod my first stops were to the local library to fill it for FREE.
Oh, goodness, what is there to say. It’s not often someone tries to advertise their services and confess to copyright infringement simultaneously.
This article and its comments are guaranteed to anger and terrify both book and music publishers. No friction? Free stuff? Oh, no, we’re doooooooomed!
Publishes must really think that if they couldn’t get some novel or song at a library for free, then people would actually pay for them. However, that ignores the fact that libraries are for the cheap and the poor, neither of whom is going to be spending money on frivolities.
For a lot of people, if they can’t get it cheap or free, they just won’t get it. For some people, it’s that they don’t have any money. The Discount Diva profiles the thinking of the cheap middle class, those who have some money, but don’t want to part with what they have. Just watch people haggle over library fines to see how cheap they are.
Libraries are helping both of them, and providing them with free stuff, but it’s free stuff that wouldn’t have been bought.
That’s why publishers have to understand before they lose their irrational fear of libraries. Libraries aren’t for pirates. They’re for the poor and the cheap, and there’s no more money to be made from either of them.