In her article "Why Angry Librarians Are Going to War With Publishers Over E-Books: Inside an appropriately quiet revolt " (Slate, September 11, 2019), Heather Schwedel discusses the scuffle between the publisher Macmillan and and the public library system. Fearing that seamless e-book borrowing from libraries is "cannabilizing" the sales of its printed copies, Macmillan has announced that no library may purchase or lend out more than one copy of an e-book during the first eight weeks after it has been published.
Schwedel writes that "'The controversy over Macmillan’s new policy gets at one of the central issues facing book publishing today. 'There’s a tension in e-book pricing generally between consumer expectations that a digital file will be less expensive than a physical copy and the reality that very little of the cost of making a book is tied up in the physical format' said Devin McGinley, a senior industry analyst covering book publishing for Ibisworld Inc., a market research firm. 'Publishers are rightly concerned that if the price of books erodes too much, they will no longer be able to cover their creative costs and subsidize more speculative bets on emerging authors'.”
Most library patrons don't realize that the libraries pay much more for an e-book than consumers do for a paper copy of the same book, even though contracts with publishers often prohibit them from lending out more than one copy at a time or limit the total number of times a given e-text may be borrowed.
I'd prefer a paper copy of a book any day--especially as it is not going to evaporate from my shelves after a few years. A well-made book may last for millennia--long after we have lost track of the technology to read an e-book in any given format. How many people will ever read the works on my collection of 8-inch floppy discs?