For the last few weeks, I've been sitting on a piece that writer K. Tempest Bradford posted about a BookExpo panel, "eBooks from libraries: Good for authors?"
Panel participants included: Carolyn Reidy, who runs Simon & Schuster; Maureen Sullivan, who leads the American Library Association; Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild; Steve Potash, CEO at Overdrive; and Jack Perry, a consultant at 38enso. Literary agent Ginger Clark moderated.
I've been sitting on the post because Bradford attended the panel; I did not. After a particularly difficult exchange earlier this year, I decided to avoid commenting on reports of events that I had not witnessed first-hand.
So, I won't comment on what the panelists are reported to have said. I encourage you to read Bradford's post and draw whatever conclusions and inferences suit you.
I will point you, though, to Bradford's assessment of two specific aspects of library lending: its inherent "friction"; and its irrelevance in any discussion of pirated content. On the latter front, Bradford notes, "It’s not hard to strip that DRM (so I’m told) and it is no harder to do so if you buy the book than if you get it from the library."
Earlier in her post, Bradford talked about windowing, "the practice of not selling new books to libraries for months or even years after initial release in order to increase sales." In her view, the panel agreed that "it was going away mostly because it didn’t increase sales, it increased piracy".
One of these things doesn't belong, and Bradford knows it. There's a market for content at the price of zero. Publishers should organize to sell books to libraries and take advantage of that opportunity.