More and more libraries across the country are offering ebooks to their card holders. That’s good! You don’t even have to return the ebook to the library! After the lending period is up, it automatically reverts back to the library that loaned it to you. The funny thing is many libraries don’t own the ebook they’re lending… They’ve purchased a license agreement to loan the ebook. When you actually download the ebook, you find yourself connected to an ebook lending service. One of the largest ebook lenders is OverDrive and that’s the service many libraries use.
When OverDrive distributes an ebook they wrap it up with DRM (digital rights management) software. This software determines what you can and cannot do with the ebook. Recently HarperCollins, a major worldwide publisher, directed Overdrive to include lending limits in their DRM.
HarperCollins did a study and determined the average paper book can be lent out by a library twenty-six times before it must be replaced due to wear and tear. Using this criteria, HarperCollins had OverDrive modify their DRM software so any HarperCollins ebook loaned out after March 7th, 2011, will self destruct after being loaned out twenty-six times. If the library wants to continue loaning the ebook they must purchase another license.
Although I understand why HarperCollins is doing this, I don’t like it. I feel we’re opening a gate which will lead to additional restrictions as time goes on. The whole ebook industry is continually evolving. Authors can now self publish and distribute their products via the internet. Let’s see where it goes!