Billibatt is coming to a library near you!
Seriously, I'm coming to a library NEAR you. So I've been sort of keeping up with this entire hullabaloo about digital rights and eBook contracts. Sort of in the same way I see an object out of the corner of my eye and if my brain deems that object not to be a threat I just go about my business. The same with the library slash publisher’s e-book distribution battle. Now there's a thing.
If you don't know about it here's a quick and generalized run down. Publisher's want to limit the amount of times an e-book can be e-checked out so they've pulled all their e-books from library e-shelves. Publishers are saying it's a financial problem and that libraries are taking food from their babies, the author's babies, and the entire literary industries baby’s mouths. Libraries are like "Wahhh! We are the industry!"
I find this battle fascinating. I think it basically amounts to the publishers winning a battle but losing the overall war. (So much so that I've got some working theories as the plot unfolds. I'll tell you about them in a minute.) There are about 122,000 libraries in these United States of those 17,000 are what we know as pubic lending libraries' (the ones you take your kids to including the book mobiles). Keep those numbers in mind.
So the publisher’s fight is predicated on the assumption that they are losing customers because of public lending libraries....sooooo, they are choosing not to sell their eBooks to - at the very least -10,000 libraries. THINKING to themselves, (and not another person outside their little bubble) 'Aha! now we've got you. We aren't going to sell our books to you! We will forgo thousands of "sure bet" sales and attempt to sell our books in a down and depressed market during a HUGE worldwide recession! So take that! You bad sharing people.'
And who's going to suffer for that? Publishers? Who have hundreds of authors in their stables in which they make about half the cover price of a book and the author gets about 10% up to 15% or about $1.50 for a 25.00 book? (P.S. These numbers are not exact but a general figure of which I extracted from the Author's Guild.)
Let me just side step here, what is a public lending library? Yes, it's a precious resource for blah blah institution blah. But what are they to publishers? And authors? As an author I see it as a marketing tool - the greatest and most untapped marketing tool available in the self-publishing world. We, as self-published authors could spend 100 dollars on an advertising blip for a computer screen that no one is going to even look at OR you could buy a bunch of your own books and market them to libraries. Where people are going to actually look at them, and put at least some thought into and make a decision on. If you're lucky, you get into the library, if not, you move on. You are just one person doing the drudgework and you are going to get rejected, get over it and move forward to the next one. Libraries are where authors get discovered, one curious mind at a time. They are like - a gateway drug to the unwashed masses of readers, and who are readers? Buyers. And talkers. Books are conversation starters.
Okay, there are always two sides to everything. What is the publisher's side of the equation? The embattled -hanging by a thread- industry has got to make money as they are, in fact, an industry where thousands of marketers have jobs. So let's not begrudge them at least a fighting stance in something they feel they are being short changed on. They feel that if they don't put a maximum loan out on e-books (which is not even a negotiated number yet. 25? 50? 100?) then the industry will suffer. This is not something that the actual book selling industry deals with because of the first sale doctrine. (Go look it up.)
So there you go. Publishers: Waaah! I'm bleeding money. And Libraries: Get over it, you make more money on the books that the actual authors (the source of the industry). At this point my money is on the libraries. There is a library in almost every county in this country. They have face-to-face human contact (called humint in the intelligence agencies, thank you public library) people are involved with their libraries. What do publishers have? Publishers weekly. Where people inside the industry go to kibitz about...the industry. See my point?
Oh wait, right, my working theories. Okay so you know how in episode 3 where the publishing industry is all "we're getting short changed so we want to put a lending limit on the e-books, even though there is not one on paper books because of that pesky first sale doctrine." Well I think in further episodes we're going to find out that Krystle Carrington was too late to realize what Alexis was really up to when she baited Blake Carrington into a fight about eBooks when what Alexis really wanted was to get rid of the first sale doctrine all together because, BECAUSE, are you ready for this? Because Alexis realized that the only people that were buying her books was actually Blake! If she can make him buy the books more often than she can make her industry whole again! But then Blake, who really is the most powerful one, since he has constant contact with the people doesn't budge and he's all, "F.U. Alexis I'll just train my trophy wife, Krystle here, how to write good books and make them available to the people. Stop making your bloated industry my problem! And that British dialect you use sounds pretentious, you've lived in America for 60 years!"
Okay I threw in that last line. And that is why I'm coming to a library near you.