ALA Responds to AAP Challenges on Ebooks . . . Before They Are Even Issued
The tweets were flying as ALA President Maureen Sullivan spoke earlier today at a meeting of the Association of American Publishers (AAP). Digital Book World (DBW) provided live coverage of Sullivan’s talk, the text of which was posted on this blog earlier today.
Sullivan continued to focus on the potential strength of a strong library/publishing partnership while also restating the demand for more access to digital books for libraries. DBW tweeted Sullivan’s push on this topic: “We hold very dear that the public continues to have equitable access to content in whatever form it may come.” She continued: “Libraries need to purchase ebooks and we need to be able to do that at a reasonable price.”
When it came time for questions, however, it seemed there was some confusion in the room. Peter Balis from Wiley is quoted by DBW as asking “When will the ALA come to publishers with best practices and ideas for potential models for e-book lending?” That is especially interesting as the AAP was just bemoaning its inability to ask and answer that very question. As the publishers’ association noted in its response to Sullivan’s letter earlier this week, unlike ALA, the AAP cannot “convene, debate, and reach consensus on [business model] issues” because of antitrust laws.
To respond to Balis’s question about business models (in an antitrust- friendly way) Sullivan noted three requirements for library ebook lending: (1) “all ebooks are available under some terms”; (2) “enduring rights are available in some form under some terms”; and (3) “the ecosystem of delivering content is integrated within how libraries function.” Apparently Balis wants more: the raw, uncut, antitrust-be-damned version. “It has to come from you and it has to be a lot more specific than what I’ve heard here. I challenge you with that.”
Challenge accepted … before you even issued it.
The ALA Digital Content and Libraries Working Group published an “Ebook Business Models for Public Libraries” report August 8. You can read more about the process, or jump right to a PDF download of the report. If Balis or any of his colleagues wants to talk actual dollar figures, we are happy to do that as well. If they want more details, we can work on that as well. What have you seen to be the most effective practices in your library? What specific things would you want to see for ebooks?
Check back with the E-Content Blog for exclusive reports from the ALA team on their meetings with publishers this week.