Ebooks on Fire

Controversies Surrounding Ebooks in Libraries

 by Charles Hamaker
Associate University Librarian for Collections and Technical Services
Atkins Library, University of North CarolinaCharlotte 

Who owns the book? Ebooks are a challenging area for libraries. Licensing is a critical issue because ebooks are being marketed as if they were analogous to print purchases. They most definitely are not. They can be available one day and gone the next. IN: InformationToday , February 22, 2012


Stewardship is easy and inexpensive to claim; it is expensive and difficult to honor, and perhaps it will prove to be all too easy to later abdicate.

– Clifford Lynch, 2003 [www.arl.org/newsltr/226/ir.html]

What we need is a revolution, not a continuation of tighter controls. We must find another way to “do” ebooks. What can consumers, customers, creators, distributors, and custodians of ebooks do to enhance the experience, preservation, and continuing innovation of etexts for both education and public use?

Concerned readers, libraries, school systems, institutions of higher education, aggregators, publishers, and their associations should come together to create criteria for acceptable and desired features of the new landscape. Such groups would have as their concerns at least three key issues: a competitive marketplace of etexts; innovation in development, design, content, and utility; and preservation. Anything less than substantive dialogue and outcomes in these areas runs the major risk of destruction of the record, the potential of the new medium, and of the core values of a significant portion of our cultural heritage with myopic implementations.




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