â€œIn the midst of the economic downturn, the e-book market is expected to nearly triple â€“ from $1 billion in 2010 to more than $2.8 billion by 2015, according to a November 2010 study by Forrester Research.
Libraries welcome the opportunity to provide new formats and resources to our communities nationwide. Two-thirds of U.S. public libraries now offer e-books, up from 38 percent only two years ago. Unfortunately, some publishers are denying or limiting library patron access to e-books at the same time demand for the full range of library services continues to climb and libraries face unprecedented budget cuts.
The challenge facing libraries with lending e-books is that without a viable model for e-book lending in place, libraries cannot uphold their fundamental role to society â€“ providing access to information. The ALA calls on the publishing community and other stakeholders to develop such a model to enable libraries to serve their patrons effectively.
Unfortunately, a market solution from some publishers is to bypass the sale of e-books to libraries altogether. Other publishers have concocted limited lending models that would establish arbitrary loan limits in an attempt to simulate â€œprint book wear and tear;â€ library access to the digital e-book file is â€œturned offâ€ forcing libraries to purchase replacement e-book copies. Yet another method from the publishers is to use digital rights management schemes that make it difficult for library users to download library e-books, leading to user frustration.
These recent developments underscore the urgent need to identify and advocate for an e-book purchasing model that will serve libraries and the public in the long run. The ALA has two entities addressing these issues â€“ a presidential task force on digital access and a more focused task force on e-books â€“ both with broad membership from Americaâ€™s libraries.
Market solutions are not meeting the needs of library users and appear to ignore the significance of book discovery through sharing. As the worldâ€™s oldest and largest library association, the ALA calls upon all stakeholders to craft a 21st century solution that will ensure equitable access to information for all.â€