What really rang true was the fear that the consumers in an emerging ebook ecosystem would “learn” that getting “free” ebooks from libraries was just as easy as getting ebooks from retailers and paying for them. Given that all this requires is pointing your web browser in a different direction, it looked to many of the publishers like a really poor bet to enable ebook lending by libraries. Sales of ebooks to libraries isn’t a huge market so the upside is limited. And with many ebook retailers struggling to gain traction in an Amazon-dominated marketplace, the consequences of even a small loss in sales could knock players out of the game.
Withholding or limiting sales of ebooks to libraries shares an important characteristic with agency pricing. In both cases, publishers are implementing policies that they know will result in their revenue being reduced immediately in order to develop what they believe will be a stronger and more diversified distribution network for ebooks in the long run.
Full piece at The Shatzkin Files