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Aga-saga doyenne ponders how to put ebooks in public libraries

Like vicars'-wives-and-their-problems stories? Got slab?

The UK's Department for Culture, Media and Sport has launched a panel to figure out how to get ebooks into public libraries in the country.

Publisher William Sieghart will lead the panel of experts, which will also include Society of Chief Librarians president Janene Cox and popular UK author Joanna Trollope, who doesn't appear to be a fan of the digital tomes.

"E-lending is currently in its infancy but growing fast," Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said in a canned statement. "Just as e-readers are transforming the way people access books, e-lending could help transform the way people use libraries."

The panel will be looking into the benefits of e-lending; the current and future demand; and the consequences for libraries, publishers and the public. It is expected to report its findings in January next year.

E-lending is a great idea in theory, but no one seems sure in which format or formats the books should be made available or how the authors or publishers should be paid.

As Google's adventures have proved, both authors and publishers are concerned that the ebook revolution could rob them of their hard-earned dues. ®

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