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eBooks and Public Libraries

03.03.2012, Uncategorized, by .

Random House made news this week by announcing their new pricing on library eBooks. Bascially the cost of a Random House eBook is now 3x the price of the physical hard-cover. In other words, many bestsellers are now $60-$100 per title. The ALA has requested Random House to re-consider.

Other corporate publisher’s eBook library programs:

  • HarperCollins has lower prices, but has a 26 check out limit. After the 26th checkout, the library must re-putrchase the title.
  • Simon & Schuster is not in the eBook library space yet.
  • Macmillan is also still not selling eBooks to libraries yet.
  • Hachette once sold to libraries, but has suspended the front-list.
  • Penguin was in libraries, but pulled out over a flap with Overdrive’s relationship with Amazon.
  • Many of the other publishers are in the libraries but this “Big6” represent 65% of all books and probably 90% of best-sellers.

For decades, publishers and libraries were very close. Publishers liked libraries for they would a)take a big % of genre hardcovers b)buy non-returnable c)help suggest and market titles d)were advocates for reading. But publishers never felt library books ate into the retail sales.

But with eBooks, there is a major concern from publishers that getting eBooks at the library does cut into eBook sales.

Libraries counter that they still help get the word out and that the service they provide more than helps with eBook sales.

I can see both sides.

I am sure there is a solution. I have seen a dozen different ones and each makes sense. But each solution creates a new issue.

For the foreseeable future, we will continue to debate and build. But a policy is being developed. A solution will come.

Many may think this is a problem. I don’t see that at all. It is a new issue, a new world and collectively we are working on an answer. Soon, there will be a policy and it will be standard. It will work for all. There will be winners and losers. But it will be, what it will be.

It is a good time to be in publishing. Sure lots of changes and lots of new terms. But this is fun and there are opportunities for all.

Love it!


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