On the heels of the various announcements and divisiveness from Random House US and UK about the future of eBook pricing, the Internet is abuzz with thoughts on what will be the direction this fast-growing industry takes. Random House’s February 28th decision to adopt the “agency model” of eBook pricing that will allow publishers to set the prices of their eBooks (Amazon’s $9.99 baseline has long been the bane of the book publisher’s existence). The publishing house will keep 70% of that designated sale price while the digital book seller keeps the remaining 30%, and one would hope that somewhere in that 70% there’s a couple of dollars of royalty money for the author. The agency model is the one used by Apple for its iBook store, which Random House has previously withheld its titles from.
This move by the publisher arguably speaks to the growing dominance of the iPad in the world of eReading hardware. However, in the wake of this announcement, bloggers are speaking up and admonishing readers to remember that they play an important role in this equation as the consumer, and as such, can make demands for how their content is managed and distributed.
One such voice, Sarah Houghton-Jan, has posted what is effectively a call to arms on her blog, The Librarian in Black.
The eBook User’s Bill of Rights
Every eBook user should have the following rights:
- the right to use eBooks under guidelines that favor access over proprietary limitations
- the right to access eBooks on any technological platform, including the hardware and software the user chooses
- the right to annotate, quote passages, print, and share eBook content within the spirit of fair use and copyright
- the right of the first-sale doctrine extended to digital content, allowing the eBook owner the right to retain, archive, share, and re-sell purchased eBooks
I believe in the free market of information and ideas.
I believe that authors, writers, and publishers can flourish when their works are readily available on the widest range of media. I believe that authors, writers, and publishers can thrive when readers are given the maximum amount of freedom to access, annotate, and share with other readers, helping this content find new audiences and markets. I believe that eBook purchasers should enjoy the rights of the first-sale doctrine because eBooks are part of the greater cultural cornerstone of literacy, education, and information access.