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Re: eBooks in Libraries a Thorny Problem, Says Macmillan CEO

Sargent's comments are intriguing, in particular the quote that 
Chuck pulled:

> "If there's a model where the publisher gets a piece of the 
> action every time the book is borrowed, that's an interesting 
> model."

I anticipate that many of my colleagues will bristle at this 
suggestion, mainly because we don't like the idea of any 
corporation getting a "piece of the action" when the action in 
question is a patron borrowing a book.  But of course, the word 
"borrow" becomes immensely complicated in the ebook realm -- 
"lending" can mean anything from (at one extreme) outright 
distribution of unlimited copies to all comers at one extreme, to 
(at the other extreme) time-limited read-only access to text 
through a single handheld device passed from patron to patron.

Then there's the question of what "a piece of the action" might 
actually mean in this context.  What's the action, and how big a 
piece does Sargent want?  What if the library's "acquisition" of 
the ebook in question amounted only to provision of a gateway 
into the book's content, and the library gets microcharged with 
every access?

There are enormous opportunities here, in part because the 
potential number of models is limitless.  I hope the forces of 
reaction (on both sides of the library/publisher divide) don't 
stymie the innovative possibilities.

Rick Anderson
Assoc. Dir. for Scholarly Resources & Collections
Marriott Library
Univ. of Utah