GuestColumn: Libraries + E-books
The preceding paragraphs explain why the ALA leadership was so interested in meeting with several major publishers in New York. These meetings, which included CEOs and division presidents, were an important step toward both parties better understanding the other's world. Publishers and library leaders had misconceptions about each other. By openly discussing those areas, as well as developing mechanisms for further direct communication, we believe that we can help each other reach our common goal of connecting authors with readers.
In the short term, ALA will work to provide data and information to publishers about how libraries operate. In return, we hope that publishers will work expeditiously to find a business model that works from their perspectives with regard to selling e‑books to libraries. We recognize that this may be a time of many solutions; each publisher will have to find a solution that works for it. We want to hear from publishers about ideas for promoting their e‑books to our readers, but we will only promote what we are able to offer. We also are working with the intermediaries and distributors who offer e‑book services to libraries.
In the long run, we need enduring solutions. Libraries obviously want publishers to thrive. Publishers must want libraries to succeed, too, if they want a "marketing" location for publications (print and digital) in communities all across the country. Libraries contribute to literacy, technology training and marketing, all important elements to success for publishers. For those who cannot afford to buy books, libraries also provide the only access to information, an essential element for an informed democratic society.
Let's work together in the "Book Business"—which is exactly what we've been doing for such a very long time. It's essential for our futures. BB
Molly Raphael, president of the American Library Association, is the chief elected officer of the oldest and largest library association in the world. She is the former director of the Multnomah County Library (Portland, Ore.) and the District of Columbia Public Library.