Erg, publishers!

Jane from Dear Author and Sarah from Smart Bitches Trashy Books both posted today about the HORRIBLE limitations HarperCollins is hoping to place on libraries who lend e-books. I recommend going and reading either or both of those posts, as they provide a good overview of what’s going on.

If you didn’t bother clicking the links, what’s going on is that HarperCollins is allowing libraries who buy a new title to lend it only 26 times before renewing their license. Essentially, they are saying that libraries must buy a new copy. After 26 lendings. Cause that’s how often print books need to be replaced, am I right? The especially frustrated thing about this is that libraries are already only allowed to lend e-books one at a time. In fact, for many titles, libraries can’t relend the e-book even if it was returned early!

The other thing that HarperCollins did was “express concerns” over library “card issuance policies” and the “qualification of patrons” who will have access to e-books. I will be honest with you, this makes me boil with fucking rage. STOP treating me like a damned pirate. I WANT to buy your damned books. Don’t make them ridiculously expensive (why should an e-book be the same price as a print book when readers don’t have the same user rights: that is, to lend and resell) and don’t make them hard to access!

Here’s the thing, Mr. and Mrs. Publishers: You want to sell books and readers want to read books. These two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive. You see how I said “and we want to read them,” not “but”? No, they don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but you act like we’re your enemies. STOP IT. Yes, consumers like free things. We also like to support the people who create things we like. For every book I borrow from the library, I buy two or three. If I read the first book in a series or by a new-to-me author, no matter where I got it, I am far more likely to buy the next books.

But here’s the real thing: In battles between producers and consumers, consumers always win. If we can’t get books cheaply and easily, many people will either stop reading or drastically reduce their reading habit. If people stop reading, you will lose. You depend on us. We are your livelihood, not the other way around. You will fail, and then the many, many people who love books will suffer, too.



P.S. I apologize for my angry ranting. I just! I get so angry when people do things to limit my reading and those “people” are almost always publishers. >=(


4 thoughts on “Erg, publishers!

  1. A Girl Named Disaster was published in Zimbabwe for an African audience. Anyone who has had to carry water all day, hoe crops, gather firewood and cook on an open fire with God knows what watching you from the bushes appreciates running water and electricity. The most alluring possessions anyone can have is a bicycle and a radio. Education opens the door to freedom. Only middle-class white people think living in the bush is romantic.

    • I have to say, I’m pretty surprised and upset by this comment. (And a little ashamed!) I didn’t feel like I said anything that would suggest that I think living in the bush is romantic, or that that would be a better ending for Nhamo! I said that the specific ending you gave her felt to me, a completely subjective reader, like it was a white woman’s idea of a happy ending. That was not solely based on her education, which I agree is vital and an opportunity that everybody should have, but on several factors, including her transformation to the woman in the magazine and her idea of home being at a scientific compound. There is a middle ground between living a completely traditional village life and a completely westernized life and while I do feel that Nhamo was in that middle, *I* felt (again, subjectively!) that her ending leaned towards the Western spectrum and I was questioning that choice. (Of course, I’m setting up a false dichotomy there between modernity/Westernization and tradition/Shona-ization, which are certainly not mutually exclusive!)

      That you think I thought living in the bush was romantic is worrying to me and shows that I must be more careful with my words. I’m very sorry for that. Let me assure you that it is not the case at all. I try very hard to educate myself on what is going on with people’s around the world; not just the rich or the poor, not just in countries with recent disasters or revolutions or wars. I try to educate myself on the importance of nearby clean water sources and schools, not to mention plumbing and electricity. I am very excited for the future: I truly believe that we can eradicate poverty and make sure every person has the basics of clean water, education, and decent health care.

      My apologies for saying I thought it was for an American audience. You have said that you intended for A Girl Named Disaster to be an African Studies book and I can certainly see that. The details of Shona culture and beliefs was one of my favorite aspects of the book! (This is a slight tangent, but I really appreciated that you treated those beliefs as real, as they *were* to Nhamo. It’s funny to hear people call A Girl Named Disaster a fantasy novel because to me it was pure reality!) To me, all of that knowledge that you share made it seem like the book was for people more ignorant in Shona culture (not that people in Zimbabwe are all experts, just that they’re much closer). I did read your interview with Jessica Powers in 2003 and it sounded to me like A Girl Named Disaster had *not* been published in Zimbabwe. Add those things together and I hope you can see why I made my mistake, which isn’t to say I’m excusing that mistake. May I ask when it was published in Zimbabwe? I’ve been trying to find that information and having a very tough time of it. (I have about ten tabs open trying to figure it out!) Now I’m too curious to leave it alone!

      I very much love A Girl Named Disaster and I hope that seeing people still reading it and discussing it gives you some warm fuzzies, even if you think we (or possibly just me) are sometimes dumb, ignorant Americans. :)

      (Edited to say: My friend Mia (who wrote the review with me) brought up the very good point that tone is very hard to tell on the internet and that I may have read more into your comment than you meant. If so, I’m sorry for my essay!)

  2. Guys! Guys! Guys!

    This post? Sad. I’m quite (un)surprised that book publishers are, like the record companies, resisting the changes of the time so hard. It’s a bit heartbreaking, especially given, say Neil Gaiman’s success with releasing American Gods…for free on .pdf, and still having amazing sales. Come on, book sellers, catch the eff up!

    Recommendation number two for tagging the author of the articles for clarity. :D

  3. Pingback: YA Mafia and Other Irritants « Nisaba Be Praised

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