Interestingly coincidental that it should be on the same that I create an eBook out of my own novel, The End Of All Worlds, that janejosiane points me in the direction of this interesting article on eBooks, eLending, and the future of libraries.
Once again, I found myself caught in a position somewhere between the author/publisher and the reader; between copyright protection and open access. Whilst I can see why publishers are suggesting imposing lending limits on eBooks to mimic the shelf-life of the physical edition, only 24 loans seems a bit extreme, and you have to question where you place that limit. A large factor when it comes to the shelf-life of a physical book before it falls apart is down, not to the number of loans, but the quality of the printing and binding, and if you were to say that eBook had the highest quality to its binding then it would be reasonable to say that it could be lent out an infinite number of times.
What I think would be more reasonable is the suggestion that if you buy 1 copy of an eBook then it can be read by just one person, or at least on one device (no reason to suggest that a device can’t have multiple readers), at a time. So libraries would still have to purchase multiple copies of an eBook just as they copy multiple copies of the latest bestsellers now, but they can continue to loan them out for years to come without fear of expiration.