In 1995, UNESCO designated April 23rd as World Book and Copyright Day, a day to celebrate literature, authors, and reading. It is therefore fitting that the European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations (EBLIDA) has marked the same date to launch their “right to e-read” campaign. EBLIDA is an independent umbrella association of library, information, documentation and archive associations and institutions in Europe.
While each country in Europe has its unique e-book woes, all of Europe has had problems obtaining best-selling fiction and non-fiction from the major trade publishers. EDLIBA’s e-book campaign focuses on four concerns:
- Providing library users with the latest e-books;
- Purchasing e-books for libraries at fair prices and under reasonable terms;
- Providing authors fair remuneration for lending e-books to the public; and
- Desiring that all readers—and not just those that can afford to buy e-books—the benefits of free e-reading.
Barbara Stripling, president of the American Library Association (ALA), today congratulated EBLIDA for developing the e-book advocacy campaign:
We understand that many libraries in European countries have faced challenges in obtaining and lending best-selling e-books from major book publishers. In fact, surveys suggest that more than 50 percent of the latest e-book titles are not available to public libraries in Europe. Today, we applaud EBLIDA for demanding that the European Commission change copyright law to require publishers to sell to libraries.
The “e-book” problem is all too familiar to ALA and U.S. libraries, so we empathize with our European colleagues. Our approach to getting more e-books in U.S. libraries involved engaging in direct discussions with publishers, in addition to demonstrating that library e-book lending enhances overall e-book sales. Through many means of connecting authors and readers, libraries help the public discover and enjoy books from the broad range of authors.
While we’ve made great progress in the U.S., there is still much work to be done. Like EBLIDA, we call for better licensing terms and reasonable prices as our work continues. Currently, the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) is working with major library associations on an eLending position paper that includes an update on the current e-book status in various countries. We continue to work on ways to develop reasonable and fair e-book pricing models.”