Article of the Week: Ebooks on Fire: Controversies Surrounding Ebooks in Libraries

In Ebooks on Fire: Controversies Surrounding Ebooks in Libraries, Charles (Chuck) Hamaker takes an in-depth look at the challenges faced by ebooks “as transmitter, carrier, and shaper of our written word cultural heritage” – and what it means for libraries. (The article is featured in the December 2011 issue of Searcher Magazine.)

Among the issues Chuck voices serious concerns about are:
• license agreements with revocable rights
• text that can be altered without notification, tracking, versioning, and archiving
• the lack of real ownership of ebooks by libraries
• roadblocks imposed by DRM software
• threats to patron confidentiality
• the long-term retention and preservation of ebooks
• restrictions on interlibrary loan lending
• limitations on placing ebooks on reserve in academic libraries
• use based pricing

Chuck then ends the article on an up note by offering some innovative suggestions that might enable ebooks to reach their full potential. Needless to say, his article raises numerous questions for librarians, publishers and vendors alike. In short, it is more than worth the read.

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