… However, an opposite view from the UK suggests that e-lending won’t destroy e-book sales
The Guardian has reported on the results of the pilot project which followed William Sieghart’s 2017 review of public libraries. Sieghart said that the libraries should be able to lend e-books remotely. It also recommended that ‘frictions’ (lending limits) be put in place to protect publishers and booksellers.
As a result, the Publishers Association and the Society of Chief Librarians commissioned jointly an e-lending pilot project that made frontlist titles available in e-format to four library authorities. Its findings, published in June, were largely positive, if inconclusive. E-book borrowing increased slightly (though only accounted for 5% of total loans) and attracted some new users, with librarians and borrowers welcoming ‘a great new development’ that could have particular benefits for visually impaired and housebound users. The majority of borrowers surveyed said e-book lending would have no impact on their decision to buy books or visit a bookshop.
Although the issue is still a controversial one in some quarters, The Guardian concludes that e-books are unlikely to jeopardize the livelihood of publishers and booksellers. It says that lending them to the 51% of the population with library cards will probably have a negligible effect on book sales overall, just as 165 years of public libraries haven’t put bookshops out of business.