Fundamentally, I think the phrase I used in the title represents the best example for the biggest issue when it comes to a eBook dialogue between publishers and public libraries. Simply put, there are no consequences to a publisher for not responding to our demands or wishes. For all the fuss and muster that goes into reasons why a publisher should allow libraries to lend their books, there are no clearly articulated punishments for non-compliance.
It’s not a logical leap to figure out why there aren’t any. While I’m sure I could get a room full of librarians to agree on the positive reasons publishers should deal with us, any discussion as what consequences to mete out if they don’t would be a complete non-starter (except for a strongly worded statement that re-issues the positive reasons and demands reconsideration on the basis of those reasons). To me it seems like librarians just generally wimp out when it comes to issues on this scale, opting to threaten to become “No more Mrs. Pleasant-to-Be-Around Gal”.
I would surmise that the only real stick that public libraries have going for them is that no one wants to been seen as beating up or picking on them. It’s this kind of shame that possibly prevented Amazon from going after libraries that lent out Kindles. Otherwise, without some sort of coordination or collective action, libraries do not have a stick to use to punish publishers for non-compliance. With the stakes that are involved in being part of eBooks, there is no better time than now to create consequences.
The carrot is simply not enough.