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'Forced Obsolescence': HarperCollins Makes Libraries Re-Buy E-Books After 26 Checkouts

HarperCollins places restrictions on eBooks.
HarperCollins has placed a restriction on the number of times its e-books can be checked out from a public library. After 26 checkouts, the expired title becomes locked in the library's virtual collection until a new digital copy has been purchased. The idea is that the physical copy of a HarperCollins book would be worn out after about 26 checkouts, and the library would then have to purchase a new copy of it. With money on its mind, HarperCollins figured the same rule should apply to electronic versions of the books.

But there are a couple problems with this line of thinking. For one, e-books don't wear out! As for the other, some librarians in Oklahoma have proven that HarperCollins's arbitrary checkout limitation is arbitrary even when judged by physical books. Having examined the HarperCollins hardbacks in their library, these librarians show that some books could survive five times as many checkouts as HarperCollins had suggested.

Let's face it; capping the number of times an e-book can be checked out is a little ridiculous. But, if HarperCollins is going to set an arbitrary limitation in order to gouge money from our public libraries, it might as well pick a limitation that's slightly grounded in reality.

Tags: books, e-book, e-books, e-reader, E-readers, harpercollins, libraries, library, top

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