“If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.”
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I’m sure you all have seen the news about HarperCollins and their new policy that each ebook they supply to Overdrive would disappear after 26 checkouts, but in case you haven’t, there has been a lot of hubbub about it online recently, both within and outside of library blogs and websites:
Cory Doctorow's post on Boing Boing
Jessamyn West's post
Bonnie Newman's post, which contains many other links
My Delicious links about HarperCollins (yeah, I know, but I'm still using Delicious...)
In response, there has is a new eBook Users Bill of Rights that has been widely circulated, which is in a similar spirit, but different from, the Readers’ Bill of Rights for Digital Books which I have been working on for a while with technologist Matthew Goins. There is also as a Boycott HarperCollins page with a sample letter, if you would like to communicate with Murdoch (HarperCollins is, of course, owned by NewsCorp).
One thing that I think is missing from many of these conversations is the right to privacy that online vendors do not assure readers in the same way that libraries do, and conversation about libraries’ longstanding commitment to the right to read. Barbara Fister wrote a good post that I think touches on some of the larger issues, and I recommend this article by Ted Striphas about the Right to Read also (although he conflates libraries and bookstores a bit).
We will be presenting the Readers Bill of Rights for Digital Books on April 1st at ACRL annual in Philadelphia. We’ll be discussing all of these issues and more. Right now we're considering actions that could be taken then, and ways that we as librarians can collectively battle oppressive restrictions upon our right to read. I hope many librarians will be able to attend!
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