HarperCollins is trying to make ebooks a target of planned obsolescence, introducing a self-destruct feature after 26 checkouts from a public library. The company, on its Library Love Fest marketing website asserts that “twenty-six circulations can provide a year of availability for titles with the highest demand.” While this is true, it’s also true that many of the titles with the highest demand continue to have a high rate of circulation after one year.
HarperCollins ignores public libraries’ use of book leasing plans such as McNaughton to meet library users’ demand for popular titles. Most people don’t realize that many libraries use book leasing to mitigate the costs of making many copies of the most popular titles available to the public.
HarperCollins could give libraries the option to purchase one copy that expires (after a use number that more closely resembles physical book wear) at list price for every 3 to 5 “expiring” copies at a discounted price. This would be a truer representation of the fairly efficient model for providing copies of best-sellers currently in place in many libraries.