Check out this story, “Random House makes history, says it will sell books to libraries with no restriction on number of loans,” by Dennis Johnson at Melville House.
The emergence of ebooks has proven to be a difficult venture for libraries for a number of reasons. With physical books a library buys copies from a vendor, and when the books get worn out or updated the library simply buys more copies. With ebooks, the book is not physical but digital. Publishers have been reluctant to sell ebooks to libraries at all, and the ones who do (namely, Harper Collins), put a limit on how many circulations each “copy” of the ebook can have. Random House is the first of the major publishers to agree to sell ebooks to libraries at a slightly higher price than regular books but with no limit on the number of loans. This move should help alleviate some of the tension that has been building between the two interests, at least for a while.
Though it seems like an ebook will last forever, there are reasons to doubt. The formats and file types will eventually evolve, as will the methods of delivery. Libraries will continue their endless task of updating the catalogs to reflect current technology and formats.