In response to my previous post, I was asked as to what kind of consequences could be meted out for publishers that don’t respond to librarian demands or wishes regarding eBooks. While I don’t believe that stopping book purchases is a viable option, there are other ways to express our discontent.
One possible action is to decline their money and materials for author promotion, book publicity, and award and event sponsorship. The first two items address something vital to the reading and sale of books and that is material visibility. There’s no good reason to promote an author or a book when the publisher treats libraries with contempt when it comes to the eBook version of their work. Return or refuse their promotional goods along with a note about the bad deal libraries are getting when it comes to eBook content.
The second set of items are generally on the state and national level. Companies that won’t allow library eBook lending or provide for onerous restrictions should not be permitted to sponsor library or librarian events and awards. If they aren’t working with libraries to provide the next generation of eContent, then we shouldn’t take their money so they can smear it all over event or award publicity and public relation materials. As they are not acting with our interests in mind or towards viable compromises, then they should be denied involvement in our gatherings and professional recognition.
In the same vein, another possible action would be to refuse them as a vendor or exhibitor at a conference. Given the public relations power of being able to present and sell to attendees (upwards of over twenty thousand librarians at ALA Annual), I feel this is a potent consequence. Let Simon & Schuster and MacMillan (aka the two publishers that do not allow for library eBook lending) sit out in the cold while the other Big Four publishers get the conference attendees to themselves. Deny them the conference visibility, the chance to hand out advanced reading copies or other promotional materials, a booth to showcase their current and future releases, and a place for their reps to meet with their clients. Why should those publishers be allowed to sell their wares when part of their business approach marks libraries as eBook content villains? It’s not in our best interests (now or in the future) to allow for such philosophies to remain unchallenged and consequence free.
Finally, I would suggest a consequence of discontinuing unpaid reviews of new books from uncooperative publishers and refusing advanced reading copies. I make the distinction of unpaid reviews because I believe that publishers take advantage of the uncompensated book review arena in order to promote their materials. As busy librarians rely on reviewers for future collection suggestions, this is a potent consequence that librarians can perform as it denies them the word of mouth marketing tool to sell their content. Why should librarians take their own time to review books that will not be licensed on an eBook platform or done so under conditions not conducive to our collection principles? It is truly unwise to continue this kind of pro bono support to these companies when they refuse to consider our needs and position.
I’ll be the first to admit that none of these consequences is perfect. But I feel a failure to mete out any kind of consequence would be far worse and leave libraries in an increasingly vulnerable position in regards to the future availability and access of eBook content. A consensus must come together or librarians will be subject to the whims of publishers when it comes to eBook content.
Now is the time to create and implement consequences.
 Some might think that this is unfair to the author and that we would be punishing them for the actions of their publisher. I would argue that the author is also in a position to pressure the publisher to come to better terms with libraries so that their works can flourish.
 I know that there is revenue lost in not allowing bigger companies to have vendor space at conferences. I believe this is a case of sticking with our principles over the chance to make a buck for the library organizations.