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Should ebooks have limits?

LibraryJournal has an article “HarperCollins Puts 26 Loan Cap on Ebook Circulations“. Did you read it? Will this be applicable to their children’s division, too? Should you be concerned?

“In the first significant revision to lending terms for ebook circulation, HarperCollins has announced that new titles licensed from library ebook vendors will be able to circulate only 26 times before the license expires….Josh Marwell, President, Sales for HarperCollins, told LJ that the 26 circulation limit was arrived at after considering a number of factors, including the average lifespan of a print book, and wear and tear on circulating copies.”

I have often written asking what the lifespan of a print book is. Some vendors will guarantee their bindings for the “life of a book” but no one can really tell me what this is. Now HarperCollins is telling us the magic number is 26.

Hah! I don’t agree. My titles circulate far more than this. I can think of three football titles recently published that have already circulated over 70 times this school year. The boys read them, return them, and immediately check out another in the series. With HarperCollins rulings if they were reading this as an ebook, I’d already be buying my third copy or digital license.

This week my students and I have been talking about which e-readers we want at school. One of my teachers let me borrow her kindle for the day (the joy!), another student brought in her Sony e-reader and showed it to a group of us, two other students said they’d asked their moms to bring in their color Nooks, but their moms are too attached to them and didn’t want to risk losing them. Barnes and Noble is offering a free coffee to anyone who comes in to view the Nook today.I just purchased Follett’s eShelf for my school library with a minimum 30 titles to start sharing next week.

Suddenly though I am frozen by the idea that I could invest in e-books that don’t last 3 months with their rights. HarperCollins, I am concerned. Have you considered school libraries and our digital usage? Will this extend to all of your titles? Are other publishers going to do this, too? Looks like I won’t be buying a new ereader for the school library today after all until I get some answers.

In the meantime, I want to know what you, the reader, thinks. Should ebooks have limits to the number of times you can check them out? Is 26 a reasonable number?


  1. Karen Valentine says:

    How absurd is this!
    With books, a title may circulate 70 times or it may only circulate once. Once I have purchased it, that’s no longer the concern of the publisher because the book no longer belongs to them. Why should it be any different with e-books?

  2. Cheryl May says:

    This is ridiculous! It’s one of the reasons that our elementary school library will not be investing much into e-books. Can you imagine a Dr. Seuss book limited to 26 circulations? Or the books used for the state Battle of the Books? Harry Potter? Percy Jackson?

  3. Tracy O'Brien says:

    Why would e-books being limited any more than a print book? What is the difference? Once I purchase it for my library and put it on the shelf for check out , it is open season for that book. Why would the publisher have any rights to the ownership and circulation on a pruchased book?

  4. Joan Lourenco says:

    Once I buy a book for my patrons, I would like them to be able to use it throughout the shelf life as determined by the policy in place by the professional in charge, not by the vendor or publisher. From my perspective, this is not a good move from the marketing and/or business department.

  5. Kathy Drake says:

    I, too, am a bit nervous about this latest development. I have recently submitted a grant to get 60 Kindles and now I am wondering if I would want to utilize them for checkout and buy e-books. I may just stick with my original thought process and only use them for teachers to check out for a class novel study. At least, then, the book would only be checked out once or twice a year anyway! Bad move, Harper Collins…


  1. […] Should ebooks have limits? « Practically ParadiseFeb 26, 2011 … Why would the publisher have any rights to the ownership and circulation on a pruchased book? Joan Lourenco says: March 4, 2011 at 5:32 pm … […]