Book publishing company Hachette has announced that they will be raising the wholesale price on their books to libraries by a whopping 220%, joining other publishers in the eBook pricing conspiracy against libraries and other consumers.
This article by the Kearney, Nebraska, Public Library directory explains why libraries may not be able to offer the latest eBooks, and why their selections may be limited.
- Random House marks up eBooks 300% for libraries.
- Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Hachette (three of the publishers involved in the dispute with Amazon) won’t sell to libraries at all.
- HarperCollins only allows 26 checkouts per book before requiring the library to purchase another—as if the book had worn out.* The library consortium voted to boycott them.
- Penguin is being childish over their dispute with Amazon and won’t allow any new books to be sold through Overdrive, the company that handles eBooks for many public libraries. Penguin has a separate deal with Queens Public Library.
* I’ve read several studies, both formal and informal, which indicate that the average library book lasts significantly longer than 26 checkouts. Two librarians created an amusing YouTube video showing the condition of several HarperCollins books checked out from 25 to more than 100 times.
BrainHive, a new eBook rental service, plans to offer eBook rental to schools. They will charge $1 per book when a student or teacher checks it out. This seems like a good way to make a much wider range of books available to small libraries, but at the same time, it could get very expensive, very quickly. BookSprung, an eBook news site, discussed this issue with regard to the 26-times checkout-limit put in place on library books by HarperCollins and noted that, based on an anecdotal survey, popular books are often checked out many dozens of times before their natural end-of-life due to wear and tear. Dozens of students might check out the same popular paper book, and it only costs the school a fixed amount for the physical product. In the “pay-per-view” scenario offered by BrainHive (and publishers who limit checkouts), however, the cost is never-ending and prevents libraries from being able to accurately predict and control costs.
This American Libraries magazine article discusses the privacy issues that have been raised by Amazon’s collection of library patron information and their unsolicited marketing of books to borrowers.
This article discusses Houston Public Library’s policy of lending eBooks for only 14 days, as compared to 6 weeks for print books. I was less interested in the geo-centric Houston news than I was to learn that a public library lends books for 6 weeks! Wow! At the time this article was published, 235 patrons were waiting to check out one of the seven eBook copies of Fifty Shades of Grey and 74 were waiting to check out one of the sixteen copies of Grisham’s The Litigators.
An American Libraries magazine article which speculates that by the end of 2012 libraries may be spending 20% of their collection budgets on digital content, and possibly 50% by the end of three years. The views of a number of parties in the book industry are discussed, including the reader, the writer, the bookseller, the publisher, and the librarian.
A short news story referencing the 79-person waiting list for the eBook version of Fifty Shades of Grey at a Michigan public library. The incredible popularity of this poorly-edited book (which was originally Twilight fan-fiction on public message boards) speaks volumes regarding the potential market for the erotica genre in eBooks.
OverDrive has begun adding Kindle compatibility to all of the libraries in its network. This opens up options to Kindle owners which were previously only available to owners of other devices. Of course, your library still has to be a member of the OverDrive network in order for you to make use of this new feature!