An Open Letter To Publishers

This post, by Andrew Woodworth, originally appeared on his Agnostic, Maybe blog on 3/1/11.

Considering how “many months” Josh Marwell states that HarperCollins has been looking at the eBook issues in his Open Letter to Librarians, the first reply to the whole HarperCollins/Overdrive/26 circulations meltdown is remarkably short on details or assurances of recognition for the issues raised by librarians. For a publisher to explicitly solicit feedback and then carefully restate their case for why they are changing their pricing model means they either don’t care or they don’t get it. Rather than give in to cynicism, I’m opting for the latter since libraries have rapidly changed in the last ten years (just like the last time they visited their pricing model). Perhaps it is time for an update.

Within that time period (well, starting before that, but I digress), libraries have moved from information gatekeepers to information gateways. Libraries have lost the monopoly on knowledge content to the information/communication revolution and have shifted to the role of being an access provider. The key word in that sentence is access. It is now our institutional everything.  We facilitate access to literature and information resources to the communities that we serve, whether it is the local grade school, university faculty, or little old grandmothers.

What this new pricing model does is threaten that access arrangement. And for all the things that you can do to libraries and/or librarians, the last thing you want to do is screw with access. It’s one of those things that librarians have incorporated into the Library Bill of Rights. It’s also one of those things that librarians want to keep as a binary answer (“Yes, we have that” and “No, we don’t have that”) rather than make it a nebulous one (“Well, we might have access to that when your turn comes up but only if we decide to renew the license which is dependent on a number of contingencies…”) Access is one of the core values that librarians will fight to the death for. This “26 and done” idea goes against it completely which is one of the major underlying reasons for the uproar that this has created.

You get the point.

Also, I’d like to highlight this other point as written by Karen Schneider:

Read the rest of the post on Andrew Woodworth‘s Agnostic, Maybe blog.