The Literary Platform has an absolutely fascinating article about how ebook lending is taking place in Sweden. Given the problems American publishers have even admitting that libraries exist, it should be a must-read for anyone in the publishing industry. According to the article, a Swedish library treats ebooks as a “service” with all ebook titles available to all the libraries patrons at all times, for free. They do not use the “licensing” model that is prevalent elsewhere. In Sweden you can borrow as many ebooks as you want, simultaneously. The library, on the other hand, pays the publisher for every transaction.
Evidently this model is making Swedish publishers nervous, though, and they are starting to “window” some books. This has caused a major outcry in the country. The Stockholm City Library is working with publishers, now, to set up a pilot project for a dual licensing mode based on the library helping the publishers digitize their backlist and, in return, getting decent lending terms. In the pilot, the library will pay for the digitization of 25 ebooks, which will be made available to the library for a fixed-price subscription for eleven years. The publishers, in turn, agree to make all new ebook titles available to the library on release.
Much more worth reading in the article. It is a pity that there is no innovative thinking or experimentation in the American ebook/library market. The idea of libraries and publishers becoming partners, instead of adversaries, is one that desperately needs traction here. Let’s hope that someone in the industry reads this article and gives it a bit of thought.