How much is that book in the window ...

Lorcan 1 min read

Jack Ammerman has an interesting point in relation to my entry about what ‘owning’ a book might actually mean (Sharable and licensable). I note that given the restrictions on what one can do with the intellectual content of a book which is still in copyright that the gap between our putatively owned materials and our licensed materials may be smaller than we are used to thinking about.

His point is well-taken. I especially appreciate his inclusion of the ongoing cost of storing and preserving the item. What he’s describing may be more akin to a “lease-to-own” plan. If the library (or individual that purchases the book) keeps a book long enough, the rights of ownership do eventually include the right to copy, digitize, etc. The work eventually moves into the public domain. But the cost is quite high. [TheoLib » Blog Archive » Sharable and licensable: cost models for collection development]

He then goes on to discuss the actual use costs of little-used collections, contrasting just-in-time to just-in-case collection strategies. Interestingly, he notes that it costs him $50 to retrieve an item from, and return it to, off-site storage. These remarks relate to my long tail discussion in these pages, libraries, logistics and the long tail, an adapted version of which has just been published in D-Lib Magazine. The costs, and more importantly, the opportunity costs, of managing just-in-case print collections will increasingly play a role in library resource discussions.
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