Cross words were exchanged when each entity sent the other its scathing stance on the state of ebook lending, but that didn’t prevent the American Library Association and the Association of American Publishers from going forward with a planned meeting to discuss the issue.
“Librarians understand that publishing is not just another industry. It has special and important significance to society,” stated ALA President Maureen Sullivan in the letter to the AAP. “Libraries complement and, in fact, actively support this industry by supporting literacy and seeking to spread an infectious and lifelong love of reading and learning. Library lending encourages patrons to experiment by sampling new authors, topics, and genres. This experimentation stimulates the market for books, with the library serving as a de facto discovery, promotion, and awareness service for authors and publishers.”
The AAP sent back their response, clearly stating that they were very disappointed in the criticism from the ALA over ebook lending.
“At a time when individual publishing houses are more actively engaged than ever in exploring viable solutions to e-lending, we are disappointed that the new leadership at ALA chose this path, with this particular timing, to criticize those efforts.”
Fortunately, neither letter kept the parties from coming together to discuss the issues surrounding digital lending, but sadly there were no great strides made during that dialogue. Both sides of the table felt that proposed solutions should come from the other side. However, there was some small hope with the recent announcements of several pilot programs from all but one of the Big Six publishers. While their methods will vary on how they choose to improve ebook lending of their titles, only Simon&Schuster remains the only major US publisher that is not releasing its ebook titles for public library lending in any way.