After a thread appeared on one of the mailing lists about ebooks in public libraries, I thought I’d see what people’s view are regarding whether libraries should charge library users for borrowing them. Here is the result:
Ok, the result is probably unsurprising for many (and of course this was hardly scientific) but was surprising was that 7 people felt that libraries should charge for ebooks. No reasons were provided in the comments, which is a shame as it would have been interesting to learn why those who voted in favour of charging took that view.
Me? I think libraries should offer ebooks free of charge as they would do with print books, for a number of reasons:
- Has the potential to attract those who do not use the library service.
- When those people start borrowing ebooks from the library, there is the potential to introduce them to other services that the library may offer.
- Libraries should, as many critics have noted, take the lead on the provision of information, no matter what form it comes in.
- If libraries do not offer free ebooks, users will just obtain them from elsewhere for free – meaning the service is unlikely to generate much in the way of added income.
- Ebooks are books and, as such, should be subject to the same rules as for print books.
I’ll be interested to hear what your thoughts are. Particularly if you are of the belief that public libraries should charge for ebooks. There must be some good reasons that I am overlooking.