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Cataloging-in-Publication Data – Should You Bother With it For Your Book?

Cataloging-in-Publication (CIP) data is included in many books (probably most of those published by mid-size and large publishers). You find it on the copyright page (the verso, or reverse side, of the title page).

Just what is CIP data? Here’s the definition provided by the Library of Congress:

“A bibliographic record prepared by the Library of Congress for a book that has not yet been published. When the book is published, the publisher includes the CIP data on the copyright page thereby facilitating book processing for libraries and book dealers.”

Most self-publishers and small, independent publishers find themselves unable to acquire this data from the Library of Congress due to LoC policy. The LoC says that CIP is only for U.S. publishers who “who publish titles that are most likely to be widely acquired by U.S. libraries.” The LoC also specifically excludes the following from the LoC’s CIP data program:

  • Book vendors
  • Distributors
  • Printers
  • Production houses and other intermediaries
  • Publishers who have published the works of fewer than three different authors
  • Self-publishers

Many librarians use CIP data to determine how to catalog your book and determine in what section and/or on what shelf it belongs. Many libraries will buy books based solely on the CIP entries provided by the LoC. But, like I said, you probably won’t be able to get that.

In lieu of LoC CIP data, you may include a Publisher’s CIP block on the copyright page. Although there are differences of opinion about how useful this data is to librarians and whether its presence will lead to more library sales, a CIP block is an inexpensive addition that may help sell books to libraries and may make your self-publishing or small publishing business appear more established, professional, and knowledgeable.

There are many independent catalogers who can provide a CIP record for you. Make certain you select someone who is a trained, professional librarian, as the content and format of the record is very important. If it’s wrong on either count, it serves no purpose.

Will it help? Since it won’t be entered into the LoC’s CIP system, you won’t get any of those automatic library sales. Many librarians, however, will appreciate its presence when they acquire your book since it saves them research time. Most public libraries today are understaffed, and books without CIP or PCIP will be set aside for cataloging later when they have time. If you have a PCIP record on your copyright page, they may complete the cataloging entry in their computer system right away.

The sooner your book is on the shelf in the library, the sooner people can check it out and read it. And the sooner they read it, the sooner they might decide they need a copy for themselves, friends, or relatives. And they might start promoting your book by word-of-mouth.

All of which means sales for your book.

At Five Rainbows Services, we include CIP data as part of our book interior design and typesetting service and also offer it separately for a flat fee.

Should you spend the money on a PCIP record for your book? You’ll have to make that decision for yourself. Just remember that it doesn’t cost much and can’t hurt…and it just might help.

Applying Printing-Press Rules To Digital Books

The New York Public Library has 87 branches, but recently some patrons have decided to forgo all of them, and visit the stacks in their living rooms instead.

As the popularity of e-books has increased, libraries across the country have installed virtual stacks. At the New York Public Library’s website, patrons can check out audio books and e-books, temporarily downloading items directly to their computers or mobile devices, without ever stepping inside a physical library. “As our readership goes online, our materials dollars are going online,” Christopher Platt, the director of collections and circulating operations for the New York Public Library told The New York Times.(1) The American Library Association estimates that two out of every three libraries now offer e-books.

But a recent decision by HarperCollins may slow the growth of libraries’ digital collections. The publisher announced this month that it will set a lending limit for new e-books it sells to libraries. Under the new policy, after a HarperCollins e-book is checked out 26 times, it will self-destruct. The limit is intended to provide a digital equivalent of the ordinary wear and tear that, over time, causes paper books to expire.

The restriction raises interesting copyright issues. In the U.S., libraries are able to lend books as a result of what is known as the “right of first sale.” This legal principle allows the purchaser of a particular iteration of a copyrighted work to resell or lend it without permission from the copyright holder, so long as no additional copies are made. Once I have bought a copy of a book, CD or DVD, it is mine to do with as I wish.

This principle, fairly straightforward when applied to physical objects, becomes more complex for “objects” such as MP3 files or e-books that exist only as bits of digital information. In response to file-sharing sites, which attempted to apply the doctrine of first sale to digital content, copyright holders began to assert that content transmitted digitally was licensed rather than sold. Since there was never any actual sale, they claimed, the right of first sale did not apply and they could, as a result, exercise greater control over how the content was used. End User License Agreements were created, requiring customers to agree that, though they seemed to be paying money to acquire a product, they were, in fact, not buying anything. By asserting a right to limit libraries’ use of e-books, HarperCollins is essentially claiming that its e-books are, like software programs, licensed rather than sold.

The principle of “fair use” provides further information on how copyrighted works can be used. It is less directly applicable to library e-books, since it applies primarily to the replication of portions of copyrighted works rather than to the use of individual copies of whole works. But it offers some useful general guidelines for considering what constitutes copyright infringement. According to the laws on “fair use,” individuals and courts examining whether a particular use is fair or not are instructed to consider “the effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work.”

Publishers argue that unlimited library access to e-books would undercut their sales. If e-books are readily available to “check out” for free at any time, they worry, customers would have little reason to click “buy” rather than “borrow.” HarperCollins said in a statement about its new policy, “We have serious concerns that our previous e-book policy, selling e-books to libraries in perpetuity, if left unchanged, would undermine the emerging e-book ecosystem, hurt the growing e-book channel, place additional pressure on physical bookstores, and in the end lead to a decrease in book sales and royalties paid to authors.”(2)

While the existing case law is murky, I am inclined to believe that, regardless of the possible consequences for publishers, the “right of first sale” applies.

But I doubt libraries will sue to win the point. While the “right of first sale” protects purchasers of copyrighted material, there is no “right to first sale.” If selling e-books to libraries hurts their profits, publishers are free to simply refuse to do business with libraries. In fact, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan, two of the largest trade publishers in the U.S., currently do precisely that.

Just as libraries depend on publishers, publishers depend on libraries for a large portion of their sales. Sales to libraries can account for 7 to 9 percent of a publisher’s overall revenue, two major publishers told The New York Times. Like it or not, publishers and libraries are locked in a relationship of mutual interdependence.

My guess is that publishers and libraries ultimately will find a solution that both can accept. Publishers might, for example, delay release of popular new e-books to libraries, forcing those who want to read the book right away to buy it. This is not much different from the way films are released first to theaters, then for pay-tv, and finally for sale and rental on digital media. Alternatively, or additionally, publishers might charge a per-checkout premium after a certain free lending limit, rather than requiring libraries to purchase new copies once theirs “expire.” This would make it possible for libraries to keep books on their virtual shelves even when they are not sure if there will be enough future interest to justify buying a new copy.

The question of how to handle library e-books is just one of many that have resulted from the digitalization of literature. I have written previously about Macmillan’s fight with Amazon last year over e-book prices, Google’s usurpation of rights to out-of-print works and newspapers’ fights to retain control of, and profit from, the content they produce. As we move into new legal territory, the specific provisions of existing copyright laws are increasingly proving inadequate to address new issues.

But the basic principles that govern our attitudes toward intellectual property are solid. Going forward, we should not alter our principles to fit changes in technology, but should instead develop innovative ways of using technology to honor our long-standing principles. Libraries and publishers should be able to find a new way to respect the old principle that expressions of ideas, once purchased, can be sold or lent for the benefit of everyone, even when those ideas are recorded in computer code rather than on paper.


(1) The New York Times: Publisher Limits Shelf Life For Library E-Books

(2) HarperCollins: Open Letter To Librarians

The Online Library Is Taking a Step Further in Educating the World

Using an online library has numerous advantages over the conventional library. In order to use a conventional library, book lovers have to physically go there at a specific time and search for the books needed. If a book has already been borrowed by another person for reading and extra copies are not available a user is compelled to choose another book or go home empty handed. In a normal library a person can only borrow a book for a set amount of time: borrowed books have to be read quickly. All the problems mentioned above have been solved by the online library. The online library has no physical restraints: you can borrow/read books from the comfort of your living room couch using your computer. In general you also do not have the issue of digital copies of a book running out. In addition to the afore-mentioned, searching through/for a book is as easy as can be using the online library.

With the click of a mouse button the digital book is in front of the reader to devour. Also comparative analysis between digital versions and paperback versions of the same book has shown that digital books are generally cheaper than their paperback brethren. The most important advantage that an online library has over a conventional library is that the conventional library is generally restricted to certain locales, and in places where no conventional library is present people are deprived of precious knowledge. The online library does not have the afore-mentioned problem: online libraries can generally be accessed from anywhere in the world where computers and internet is available. In addition to the preceding cons associated with using a traditional library, there are also substantial costs associated with maintaining the physical buildings/artefacts associated with a conventional library. Also, in villages that abound in third world countries, conventional libraries are rare and the furtherance of education through the use of the conventional library is impossible. Online libraries are pervasive across the internet and are generally cheaper to maintain or use in comparison to the conventional library.

A Social library is basically an online library with a social component. The social library has further enhanced the importance of online libraries. The social library’s connection with social sites has given a new user experience to the avid book lover. Sharing a book and also sharing thoughts about a book has become easier. The trouble with sharing a paperback edition with a friend living far away is not only time consuming but also tiresome. With social libraries, sharing a book with a friend/colleague half way around the world is as easy as clicking on one mouse button. Eric Fromm was famously quoted as saying “Why should society feel responsible only for the education of children, and not for the education of all adults of every age?” The Social Library is the answer to Eric’s question!