Dawn of the Metatext…

Posted on 16/03/2012 by


There have been a few articles of late regarding publishers and how they act with libraries (see: Penguin removing their ebooks from library catalogues, in response to Amazon’s Kindle Lending Service, ouch!)

And of most interest is Techdirt’s article, Libraries Are The Best Counter To Piracy… So Of Course Publishers Are Trying To Limit Them. In it, Masnick recounts out that as O’Reilly has long pointed out, giving consumers a convenient place to locate good content is a sure-fire way to combat piracy (instead of some other kind of knee-jerk response like the US government’s SOPA), and under the best of controlled circumstances.

“Controlled circumstances” is a hugely significant term, because as Amazon has long understood, it doesn’t matter how much you “sell” an individual e/book for, if you get access to the user-data to better drive targeted e/book sales in the future. See how their Kindle “with special offers” is so cheap (and may actually be a positive to user’s experiences, if Amazon can mine their long tail of products tailored to a user’s metadata.)

The New York Times talks about the strange attitude publishers have to libraries lending out ebooks:

In their eyes, borrowing an e-book from a library has been too easy. Worried that people will click to borrow an e-book from a library rather than click to buy it, almost all major publishers in the United States now block libraries’ access to the e-book form of either all of their titles or their most recently published ones.

But of course, where these attempted borrowers actually likely to buy the e/book at all? Or would they instead merely find another, different object to borrow—or perhaps, the same ebook to steal elsewhere?

To which article Masnick, again, says that “this suggests that if libraries didn’t exist, and somebody tried to set one up, publishers would use the same logic to refuse to sell traditional books for that purpose.”

And this is all wonderfully current to my novel Bibliotek (whose premise came about some two years ago now…)! That publishers fear the setup of libraries, because the lending of “traditional books for that purpose” would threaten (Amazon’s) scheme for collecting and targeting ebook user data.

That was the birth of the novel’s “Metatext.”

Burning Books


Posted in: Btek, Paul