The Week in Libraries: July 20, 2018

Following PW’s report this week that Tor Books, a division of Macmillan publishers, was scaling back library access to it’s frontlist e-books, the American Library Association, and the Canadian Urban Library Council have both issued public statements protesting the move.

ALA president Loida Garcia-Febo said she was dismayed to see Tor “bring forward a tired and unproven claim of library lending adversely affecting sales,” and said the move “undermines our shared commitment to readers and writers—particularly with no advance notice or discussion with libraries.”

And in a letter to Tor’s president and publisher Fritz Foy, Pilar Martinez Chair, Canadian Urban Libraries Council and CEO of the Edmonton Public Library disputed that library e-book lending was impacting sales, and said that Tor’s “adversarial approach” was “a direct affront to readers who rely on public libraries for access to their educational and recreational reading materials.”

On another digital front, there is progress to report on net neutrality. The ALA Washington Office’s District Dispatch weighs in on the news that the first House Republican, Mike Coffman of Colorado, has signed on to the discharge petition to overturn the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality rules. Coffman has also introduced a net neutrality bill in Congress that is getting lukewarm reviews. Nevertheless, Coffman’s support is welcome. “Coffman spoke in strong terms about his thoughts on net neutrality,” reports ALA’s Ellen Satterwhite. “’It is really quite simple,” he said. “’You pay your internet provider for access. You don’t pay them to make decisions about internet content. In exchange for your payment, you should get freedom of access without market-distorting arrangements.’” ALA couldn’t agree more.”

Google this week was hit with a massive $5 billion fine. The Atlantic reports on why, and why the EU may not be done with American tech companies. “This might be the tip of the iceberg for global technology regulation,” Ian Bogost reports, “for which Europe has been doing the work the United States can’t, or won’t, pursue.”

The Times of San Diego reports that the growth of graphic novels, young adult books and other pop culture is evident at this year’s Comic-Con, where public librarians have gathered to share ideas and inspire each other.

PW is also at Comic-Con. Check out the latest from Calvin Reid.

Meanwhile, industry stats show a dip in comics revenue: PW reports that the 2017 sales decline ended a multi-year run of annual sales growth that began about 2011, but Milton Griepp, CEO of ICv2, said despite a soft market in 2017 there were positive signs in sales of the graphic novel format. “The relative strength in the graphic novel and digital markets, especially the growing market for kids’ titles across print channels, bodes well for the future,” Griepp said.

Nearly a year after Harvey’s floods, The Houston Chronicle reports that six Houston libraries remain closed, some indefinitely.

These stories are always popular: from Nashville Public Radio comes the latest “bookless library” story. “For the first time in 26 years, a new library is opening in Rutherford County. But there’s something you won’t see there: books. Or, bookshelves. The Technology Engagement Center is designed as a trendsetting library that focuses on digital literacy, computing skills and “maker” spaces.”

We know Amazon has had a major impact on the publishing and bookselling businesses. But this thoughtful piece in Wired questions whether Amazon is really as disruptive a force in other sectors. “It’s a testament to the cultural salience of the publishing industry that the books precedent looms so large in the mind of the public and stock traders, because today, 24 years after Amazon was founded, the company has failed to achieve similar market power in any other sector,” writes Felix Salmon.

Another day, another challenge to the First Amendment. The Los Angeles Times is challenging a judge’s order to retract a report on a sealed plea deal , which involved a police officer, that was inadvertently placed briefly in the public domain.

In American Libraries, more from newly inaugurated ALA president Loida Garcia-Febo on her platform Libraries = Strong Communities. “Libraries are bastions of democracy, access, intellectual freedom, diversity, and the public good. They play a central role in helping people and communities.”

We reported recently on the standoff between European consortium Project DEAL and Elsevier. Well, via InfoDocket, we learned this week that some 300 academic institutions in Germany and Sweden have now lost access to new papers published in Elsevier’s journals due to a standstill in negotiations.

From Science Business, a report on Robert-Jan Smits, former EU research chief, who is apparently working on a controversial plan that seeks to make research papers free by 2020.

On the copyright front, a handful of libraries, including the Internet Archive, have weighed in on two competing copyright bills that deal with recorded music. One bill, dubbed CLASSICS “will do permanent and irreparable harm to the public’s interest in preserving older sound recordings and assuring public access to the same,” the letter argues. On the other hand, a bill called ACCESS “would apply the same rules that apply to other copyrighted works, benefiting artists and helping to preserve our cultural heritage and open up older works to rediscovery by scholars, creators and the public.” TechCrunch has a good breakdown of the debate and the competing bills.

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