Ebooks on Fire: Controversies Surrounding Ebooks in Libraries

Charles Hamaker, Associate University Librarian for Collections and Technical Services at Atkins Library, University of North Carolina–Charlotte writes for Searcher Magazine about Ebooks on Fire: Controversies Surrounding Ebooks in Libraries. This is a thought-provoking article on the pressing issue of e-books in the library realm:

“Ubiquitous web and print ads tell individuals and libraries to “buy” ebooks. But long-term preservation and retention rights to stable content are not the norm, because many resellers and vendors don’t possess those rights from the publisher or author. Instead of true ownership, most ebook “purchases” are more like leases, and leases with few residual rights at that. The only way to assure continuing access and storage for an ebook is a permanent download to a device with rights not governed by strict DRM (Digital Rights Management) systems. With content delivered from a hosted service on the web (aka the cloud), the “purchaser” has no control over the content. Even Google Books bears the disclaimer:

[I]f Google or the applicable copyright holder loses the rights to provide you any Digital Content, Google will cease serving such Digital Content to you and you may lose the ability to use such Digital Content.”