Information Connection, 0819 WYBJ, Vol. 42 No. 5. 58

AuthorAmy Pearce, Public Services Librarian George W. Hopper Law Library
PositionVol. 42 5 Pg. 58

Information Connection

Vol. 42 No. 5 Pg. 58

Wyoming Bar Journal

August, 2019

Print or E-Book?

Amy Pearce, Public Services Librarian George W. Hopper Law Library

While e-books have established themselves, print is most definitely not dead. Canon, the technology production company, conducted a survey of American adults in 2018 about their use of print and electronic media. Sixty-five percent of those surveyed indicated they prefer print books over e-books and audiobooks. Even so, e-books have strong followers. A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, also in 2018, showed that 26% of Americans had read an e-book in the past 12 months.

The introduction of e-readers, like the Amazon Kindle in 2007, eventuated an increase in e-book sales. In 2016, e-books accounted for approximately 23% of book sales in the U.S. This percentage has dropped slightly in subsequent years.

The differences between print and e-books are not merely a matter of medium. There are several differences that are worth exploring in order to better understand the emerging electronic landscape and understand the continued reach of printed materials.

First, it is important to know that e-books are not sold in the traditional sense; rather, consumers purchase a license to access the content. This is true whether the consumer is an individual or a library. Because of this, one of the primary differences between print and e-books involves sharing. The first-sale doctrine of the Copyright Act of 1976 (17 U.S.C. §109 (a)) guarantees that once a person buys something, he has the "right to sell or otherwise dispose" of that item. This applies to print books and means you can give away, resell, or in the case of a library, lend that book. However, the first sale doctrine does not apply to e-books, which are licensed, not sold.

Individual consumers who purchase a license for an e-book find they cannot share that book the same way they would a print book, e.g. loan it to a friend or donate it to a library. This issue is even more difficult for libraries, who have struggled with publishers to lend e-books to their library users. Publishers have often set very restrictive limits on libraries 'lending of e-books, such as limiting the number of times an e-book can be lent before the license expires, or charging libraries an amount many times the cost charged an individual consumer for an e-book.

The second difference...

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