I have been intrigued this week by Mary and Liz’s post about our in class discussion over the inflated cost of Ebooks. The theme seems to be whether the Public needs to be aware of how much the supposed “free” books of the lending library cost and when one copy is drastically different than the first.
This of course at first seems like a ridiculous idea, as have we not made a profession out of taking things of great value and lending them to the masses? Is it not our job, as shrewd customers ourselves, to pressure, to hassle, to bargain? Have we become so ineffective we can’t even control the industry we have literally kept alive for years? At first I took the traditional stance of buy-it-all-until-the-money-stop flow. In the words of library etiquette:
On February 2, acquisitions librarians will emerge from their offices with a printout of the library’s budget. If they see their shadows, there will be six more weeks of book ordering. If they don’t, new book orders will go into a queue for the next budget cycle.
This was sort of the way I saw acquisitions: give the patrons what they want until there’s no money left. But I’ve been persuaded otherwise, at least in part. The situation behind the curtain has gotten too ridiculous. The rules no longer make sense. So perhaps it is time to tell the Public, at least in part, the cost of e-books. Perhaps this conversation will lead to a greater overall dialogue about the many antiquated process still being practiced by librarians in terms of acquisitions, such as the lack of disclosure over how public funds are spent, pricing information and perhaps even deeper vendor sharing.
To be “open” (both meanings intended) is better than to be “free”.