What Role Do Libraries Have
in the Future Digital World
A Publisher’s Perspective
Future of the Book Conference
25 June 2009
Public (Lending) Libraries
• Funded by rates
• 73 local authorities
• $200M+ cost – as big as the book
• 50 million items borrowed
• A critical sector to work closely with
What role could libraries play?
• Good: To support the development of
digital reading in New Zealand
• Better: To support the publishing industry
in developing digital reading in New
• Best: To support the local publishing
industry in developing digital reading in
Should we lend ebooks?
• It’s a great opportunity for publishers,
authors and readers
• Potential for recurring income
• Earn income from pass-along readers
– Income from groups who might not buy
• Lower cost option should reduce piracy
and speed adoption of ebook readers
• Cross-promotions generate paid sales
Will lending ebooks work?
• Copyright and contract issues.
• DRM probably needed to enforce terms
– Video rental
– Circulating libraries in the 18th and 19th
Should libraries lend ebooks?
• Can a free (or heavily subsidised) lending model
co-exist with commercial model?
• Can libraries do a better job than commercial
operators growing the digital market
• Could libraries operate on a fully commercial
– Would the public accept this?
• Could libraries subsidise access rather than
– Arguably a bigger equity issue
Creating a robust local industry
• A robust local (e)publishing industry could
be a core mission of libraries for the 21st
– Local content 50% of NZ market today, let’s
not shrink this
– Libraries have led in offshore sourcing
• This weakens the local industry
– Could this change in the emerging digital
Libraries and the NZ Publishing
• Huge potential to help
– A deeply-held, shared interest in a strong
local content industry is essential
– Openness by both parties to fresh
• Let’s talk!
– Formally, and for the long term
– Need to work together to find solutions
Digital Publishing Forum
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