Harper Collins = 21st Century Scrooge

On a ListServe to which I recently subscribed the following announcement was published. To me, it represents the crux of the issue, as well as the practical response by a state-wide agency to address the issues created by Harper Collins decision to seek greater profits.

Recently many changes have occurred which impact this Consortium, including a new contract offered by OverDrive and, most recently, the announcement that Harper Collins digital titles (purchased after March 7) will expire after being downloaded 26 times.

The pricing model put forth by OverDrive in a contract renewal proposal (in late 2010) was unsustainable because the Application Service and License Fee Schedule showed a 100% increase each year for 4 years. This contract has been withdrawn by OverDrive. The [Organization] is continuing to negotiate contract terms with OverDrive. It seems likely that the [Organization] and OverDrive will come to a mutually beneficial agreement so that the [Organization] Consortium will continue to exist and will continue to offer digital content to [customers]. As this process progresses, I will send you updates.

Regarding the Harper Collin’s decision: because of the potential negative impact of the decision of Harper Collins publishers on customer service, the [Organization] has placed a moratorium on purchasing Harper Collins titles. There are many issues around the “expiration of a title after 26 check-outs,” two of which are of immediate interest, i.e., how patron holds and MARC records will be handled upon expiration of a title. Until these and other issues are addressed, the [Organization] moratorium will remain in place.

I believe that this is in keeping with the desire of the consortium to provide the best customer service possible. Thank you.

Harper Collins obviously revealed their Scrooge core values that have and will ensnare them in messy debate and controversy and could ultimately end in their financial ruin. It is obvious that decision makers at Harper Collins failed to take the big picture into consideration – libraries are a source of potential sales, and more importantly libraries are a focal point of good will. Many companies have doomed themselves by making such blatant commercial decisions that had far more detriment impact than any benefits or profits they imagined. Such is the nature of business when the bottom line becomes more important than service – as Scrooge figured out when his life flashed before his eyes.

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