13 July 2007

If Public Libraries Didn't Exist, Could You Start One Today?

Stephen Dubner from Freakonomics writes:

I am guessing there would be a huge pushback from book publishers. Given the current state of debate about intellectual property, can you imagine modern publishers being willing to sell one copy of a book and then have the owner let an unlimited number of strangers borrow it?

I don’t think so. Perhaps they’d come up with a licensing agreement: the book costs $20 to own, with an additional $2 per year for every year beyond Year 1 it’s in circulation. I’m sure there would be a lot of other potential arrangements. And I am just as sure that, like a lot of systems that evolve over time, the library system is one that, if it were being built from scratch today, would have a very different set of dynamics and economics.

Again, here's the link to the article.


At 13 July, 2007 14:01, Blogger The Topiary Cow said...

Yes, interesting.

The only opposing thought is that books are so cheap now they are regularly given away...just as are videotapes now.

So libraries could hold lots of old books that nobody wanted and those would be free. The new expensive licensed ones would be absent from libraries given the current state of library funding.



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