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Limits on library e-books stir controversy

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Emily Spatz/Argus Leader/AP

(Read caption) Some librarians are "appalled" by a new HarperCollins policy that would allow library e-books to circulate only 26 times before their license expires. Others, however, note that some major publishers don't allow their e-books to circulate in libraries at all.

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Library books get plenty of wear and tear. But do popular books really wear out after just a year?

That’s the stated logic behind a new rule for e-books published by Harper Collins. As Library Journal reported, the publisher plans to allow each “copy” of a library e-book to circulate only 26 times before the license expires. (For popular titles, LJ noted, that would equal a year of use for libraries with a 2-week checkout, or 1.5 years for libraries with a 3-week window). The president of sales for Harper Collins told Library Journal the limit “was arrived at after considering a number of factors, including the average lifespan of a print book, and wear and tear on circulating copies.”

A protest movement sprung up fast. There’s a website, at least one small Facebook group, and a Twitter hashtag, #hcod, to follow the story and comment on it. Mega-popular Harper Collins author Neil Gaiman, asked in a tweet about the policy, called it “incredibly disappointing,” noted Mediabistro. Another Twitter commenter compared it to book burning.

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