To add insult to injury, HarperCollins insists that libraries delete their e-books after they are circulated 26 times. This has been pitched as having some parallel to the fact that many library books eventually disintegrate and have to be discarded. But this is both wrong and perverse. Wrong because the 26-circulation cutoff bears no relationship to how many times a book can circulate before it falls to bits. It amazes me to think that HarperCollins wants to frame its products as so badly manufactured that they can’t withstand being read 27 or more times. But beyond the factual problems with a 26-circ cap, there is the fundamental perversity of celebrating and importing the limitations of physical media into the digital world. It’s like insisting that electric bulbs be limited to outputting no more than one lumen of light, since that’s all a comparably-sized candle would manage. The fact that books don’t last forever is not a feature to be preserved through the digital transition: it’s a bug, and the sooner we eliminate it, the better.
— posted Monday 2 September 2013 @ 10:23 am PDT
“ It’s like insisting that electric bulbs be limited to outputting no more than one lumen of light, since that’s all a comparably-sized candle would manage.” – This is great! And probably what the candle manufacturers would have insisted on if they had the clout of modern content providers.
Given that we still have intact Gutenberg Bibles from 500 years ago and Egyptian Papyrus from thousands of years ago, I think digital has a long way to go to outlasting print. Still no excuse to limiting circulations to 26.