Library payment system
In the UK the author gets about 6p every time you take a physical book out of the library (7 million pounds divided by total books loans).
If you take out an ebook the author gets NOTHING because it is not a printed book. The legislation is there for ebooks to get payments in the digital economy act but the government has not chosen to do it yet.
Almost all Libraries with proper ebooks use the overdrive system from overdrive of Ohio because they are the only people to really organize all the rights issues. (They also provide ebooks for WHsmith and Waterstones).
So Harpercollins idea is in efffect not that different from what the UK does with regular books, though twice as expensive and unclear how much goes to the author.
It would be nice if libraries were just given the books for free and then charged 10p a loan or something. Mind you its a worry in these tight times that lots of money will be poured into ebook collections whose drm will be obsolete in ten years and they will have to start again. Sensible libraries join together and run a joint overdrive ebook library sharing the cost.