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Ebooks: a Coming War for the Soul of the Library

Ebooks are at the heart of a publishing revolution, and it won’t stop until it's had an effect on every sector of the book world. On its face, this is great news for libraries and their institutional commitment to preserving information and bringing it to the people. Digital files can be much more permanent and flexible than anything that has preceded them. But in practice, new technology comes at great cost. One of the cornerstones of the library’s legal foundation — the “first sale doctrine,” which allows purchasers of goods to use them however they want — is being chipped away as sales are replaced with licenses. And more: ebook licenses and tech threaten to upend the culture of privacy and intellectual freedom that have sat at the core of modern libraries since at least Jefferson’s inauguration of the Library of Congress. In this panel, librarians, activists, and others will discuss the place of the ebook in the modern library, and what it means for the future of the institution.




Parker Higgins, Activist, Electronic Frontier Foundation

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