I get that publishers are hurting. Since Borders went bankrupt, they’ve lost a good deal of available retail space, so they want to maximize income wherever they can.
And naturally sales are low-- fewer and fewer people have money to spare for books. (Goddess knows, my “entertainment budget” these days would make a cat laugh.) So readers may choose to visit libraries if they can. (I know I do, though I check out ebooks more often than physical copies.) And perhaps that might have some miniscule effect on sales.
But in my opinion, TOR is shooting themselves in the foot.
Once a reader falls in love with an author’s works, it’s likely they will grab as much of that writer’s tales as possible. How better to entice a reader’s appetite than to let them sample at the library?
(This is a very popular gambit with self-published writers on Amazon. Dangle the first in a series for free, and sell the rest. Thanks to that strategy, I’ve got more books on my Kindle than I could read in a year. And while most aren’t polished, I’ve found some gems… and yes, I bought their follow-up books.)
And then, there’s the bad feeling this will cause. Library associations are already upset. If I worked at a library, I’d consider spending less of my precious budget on any publisher who showed my workplace such disrespect.
They’re not factoring in how the readers will react either. I know not every sci-fi/fantasy fan pays attention to publishers, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if those that do start grumbling-- or maybe even “embargo” their own purchases. If they don’t revoke this policy, I’ll be thinking long and hard before I buy any TOR books. (I’ve got plenty of hardcopy and ebooks waiting for my attention already.)
What are your thoughts?