The CEO of Simon & Schuster:
What changes with digital is that you can sit at home and if you have a library card you can order any book, you never have to go anywhere. And if you could get every book you wanted free, why would you ever buy another one? That’s the question we had about it in our first meeting. … That is the danger. You could literally undermine the market for every author and for [the publishers]. … Obviously, there is some discovery through libraries. There’s also some ability for who people who aren’t ever going to buy books to read them and be a part of the conversation. We’ve always believed that the cultural contribution of libraries is important.
coffeeandink, in response:
We believe in the cultural contribution of libraries and we think people who read but don't buy books are important, but we only arrange for them to borrow from libraries out of noblesse oblige and really they are all thieves.
Libraries are not a necessary evil. They are one of humanity's greatest accomplishments. I don't care if you think they're cutting into your bottom line (you are wrong about this, by the way), if you don't love libraries, I don't know what you're doing in a career related to books.
Maybe the publishing industry doesn't get this or something, but they do make money when a library buys an ebook. They do not, however, make money when people choose to pirate that ebook instead, because the library either couldn't afford to buy it, or is permitted to offer it only encumbered by DRM which makes it unreadable.
And when I want to read a book but don't yet know if I want to own a copy, I pretty much do choose to pirate stuff these days. Because my local library's written the whole thing off as a loss: the books are expensive, and no one checks them out because the process is a mess.
It's sad and hilarious that people associated with publishing are constantly saying that they've "learned from the mistakes of the music industry" - yet every major publisher seems to believe that DRM can prevent piracy. It can't! That's why the music industry stopped using it! That was the biggest mistake that they made.
Here's a recap for those individuals working in publishing who may have been out with a bad cold for the last fifteen years: The record industry threw massive quantities of time and money away on a technology that potential customers either hated or simply couldn't use, thus pushing them into piracy - which had the effect of normalizing the practice, even among people who might otherwise have had qualms about it! It was pretty dumb.
So they gave up on it, but not before building up levels of ill-will best measured in sieverts. Americans under the age of 35 react to the term "record industry" with a level of revulsion which one might expect us to reserve for "BP," "Halliburton," or "a company staffed entirely by deadly black mamba snakes."
Maybe what publishers feel that they learned is this: Becoming passionately loathed is a natural part of the life cycle of a media industry. There is clearly no way for English-language publishing to avoid this, so they're going big! Step two will be a redux of the RIAA's relentless campaign of lawsuits against frightened thirteen-year-olds and their parents' rent money.