HarperCollins (a book publishing/selling company) updated their e-book lending policy for public libraries, limiting the number of checkouts to 26 yearly and amount of people that can access the e-books at once. I am against this policy and my position has not changed much after reading some of my classmates’ postings supporting the company and not the public libraries.
Some of my classmates try to approach this issue from the “the company means business” perspective. I approach this issue as a “public access to knowledge should be free and limitless so that public could always be informed and educated” point of view. I strongly believe in “Knowledge is power” and therefore “Power to the People”.
I have concerns about and am against HarperCollins updated e-book lending policy for libraries. I not only think this is a bad policy-making on their end but also suggest that this is a poor insight for their business practice. My reasons for my opinions are below:
- If you are a seller to the public, you should not make the public angry and protest your company: The libraries are the provider of the knowledge to the public for free. People pay their taxes to be able to use public libraries’ services for free. What Harper Collins is basically doing with this updated policy is that they are telling the public that the government should increase taxes to provide this service to the public for free. People become angry at them and start protest campaigns because they believe the company is greedy. As a result of this public perception, the company would ultimately loose customers. Therefore, perception-wise, this is a bad policy-making practice on the company’s behalf.
- Number of checkouts as a limiting factor: HarperCollins is limiting the number of total checkouts to 26 and allowing one checkout of an e-book at a time. They did not explain their reasoning behind these numbers to the public and are expecting the libraries and the public to understand and work with them for “mutually beneficial opportunities”. This is where the people start questioning the why and saying “this doesn’t make sense”. When you cannot convince the public with data and research about your decisions, people will oppose it and there won’t be mutual benefits. As a result, you will not be able to continue your business with libraries.
- Access to knowledge (and hence to e-books) is so easy that it could put any knowledge-provider out of business in a heartbeat if they do not carefully craft their business decisions: Nowadays, one can find e-books available almost everywhere. One can easily copy an e-book, and just send the file over to a friend, who doesn’t want to pay for the book. There are many other ways that people could access to e-books online. Considering these facts, limiting the number of checkouts and amount of people that can access the e-books at once will not benefit but hurt HarperCollins in the long run.