Print 23 comment(s) - last by Netscorer.. on Mar 6 at 3:35 PM

Libraries are upset by the cost of e-book lending, which has now tripled

Book publisher Random House has tripled the price of many of the e-book titles it sells to libraries, and the understandably the decision is raising quite a few eyebrows.

"The first thing that popped into my head was that Random House must really hate libraries," said Kathy Petlewski, a librarian from Plymouth.

Last month, Random House announced that it would be making some changes to the way it sells e-books to libraries, including price increases. But libraries didn't expect cost boosts as high as 300 percent, where no titles are offered under $25. Some even go as high as over $100 per title.

While the price hike is a significant one, Tech Crunch made the argument that book publishers are trying to create a model with selling e-books that somewhat resembles the model it had with physical books. E-books can easily be duplicated and can never be damaged, meaning libraries never pay for replacements. While publishers win by being able to deliver e-books to several markets faster, they're now looking to benefit a little more in the financial aspect.

However, libraries are really the ones that stand to lose, since they are already battling with funding issues. There are also other services like Amazon's Kindle Owners Lending Library, which allows Amazon Prime members to borrow up to one book per month for free without any due dates. The e-books are downloaded right to the Kindle device once selected.

Random House may have put libraries in a tough spot, considering many popular titles have come from the publisher, but it's not the only one giving libraries a hard time. For instance, Hachette and Macmillan have only made part of their list of e-book titles available to libraries, HarperCollins puts a 26-use expiration on its library e-books, and others like Simon&Schuster and Penguin don't even let libraries lend out their e-books.

Some major publishers have acted up in the past as well, potentially harming any competition. Last year, the European Commission opened a formal antitrust investigation into whether Hachette Livre (Lagardère Publishing France), Harper Collins (News Corp., U.S.A.), Simon & Schuster (CBS Corp., U.S.A.), Penguin (Pearson Group, United Kingdom) and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holzbrinck (owner of inter alia Macmillan, Germany) have been practicing anti-competitive tactics with the help of Apple. 
In December 2011, the U.S. Justice Department climbed aboard the investigation as well.

Source: Tech Crunch

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Purpose of libraries in the digital age?
By quiksilvr on 3/5/2012 10:34:13 AM , Rating: 2
One thing that I have always wondered was the overall benefit of libraries in the digital age. Yes, it provides internet for those that don't have it, but there is free Wi-Fi virtually everywhere now, even at fast food restaurants. Besides free DVD rentals, I just don't see the point. We live in an age where knowledge is free and available all the time online.

It is my firm belief that ALL written books in the history of the world should be digitized and made available online. Save time, money and resources. Be done with the libraries and digitize the entire system. You can spout about the kids and the woes of the digital age all you want, but admit it. The digital age of knowledge has come and its time as a society to just go full throttle on it and digitize the books.

RE: Purpose of libraries in the digital age?
By fleshconsumed on 3/5/2012 11:03:54 AM , Rating: 4
Maybe, when all the books and digitized and made available online free of charge (or for a low monthly/yearly fee), then maybe, just maybe the libraries will become obsolete, until then, libraries are a necessary tool that will not go away.

1. WiFi is not free, most of the time you got to buy something to use it, and to be honest, library usually provides a much suitable environment for studying/research than a coffee shop.
2. Coming back to the point about wealth of information on the internet, yes, there is a lot of information on the web, but a lot of it is disorganized, and a lot of it is poor quality, or incomplete, doesn't go into detail. There is a reason study guide exist, technically all of that information is available in some form or another on the web, however it is too inconvenient and time consuming to look for it, so people prefer to buy a study guide for $30-60 to save on hours and hours and hours of time it would have taken them to find the same information themselves elsewhere.
3. The amazon lending system and others mentioned in the article are fine, but they are one isolated ecosystem, and it is often incomplete, if you cannot get the book from amazon lending, what do you do now? And amazon lending system is a private enterprise, it is subject to whatever amazon wants to do with it, what if Amazon decides to discontinue the program, or what if it goes out of business? Inconceivable? Maybe, but same was said about Bear Stearns five years ago...

You have the right idea, but until it happens, I would not want libraries to go away, they cannot, they are too valuable and there is no suitable alternative.

RE: Purpose of libraries in the digital age?
By MrBlastman on 3/5/2012 11:36:10 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe, when all the books and digitized and made available online free of charge (or for a low monthly/yearly fee), then maybe, just maybe the libraries will become obsolete, until then, libraries are a necessary tool that will not go away.

Have you ever written a book? Have you ever attempted to write a book (reasonably, not just a few chapters)? Do you know how much work goes into writing one?

If an author is okay having their work shared for free, then fine. I'd say most won't be, though, except for those who are widely published or long dead.

People should pay for books, written or digital. A lot of sweat and effort is put into writing them and aside from borrowing them from a library, you should have to cough up to give them a look.

By MrBlastman on 3/5/2012 11:42:23 AM , Rating: 2
Oh, might I also add that if you lend a book to a friend, that is another avenue that they shouldn't have to pay (nor the author receive) compensation for. E-Books complicate this and "sharing" a book by giving someone a physical, permanent copy is not the same thing.

RE: Purpose of libraries in the digital age?
By acer905 on 3/5/2012 12:49:14 PM , Rating: 2
People should pay the Author for books. In the digital age, nobody else should matter. No printing cost and minimal distribution cost (web hosting) make the modern age very pro-author. Instead of authors being picked up by "Major Publishers" they could look for small firms for editing, or advertising, and fully self publish.

Amazon is already on the right path for this with their publication services. Imagine a world where you could sell a book for what the Author currently makes per book plus 10% for hosting. Brand new books for a few dollars, and the Author doesn't get screwed over by anyone

By mcnabney on 3/5/2012 5:21:43 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, and you think those massive publishing/media companies are going to let that happen?

It has never been about the writer or the content. It is all about the money. It didn't use to be this way.

RE: Purpose of libraries in the digital age?
By boobo on 3/5/2012 7:06:31 PM , Rating: 2
...and we're going to go to the local bank and say, "I've never written anything before, and I have no assets, but can you lend me $100000 to advertise and promote this book I've just finished writing?"

-Best- case scenario, they would say, "Yes, but if the book fails, you'll still have to pay us the money plus interest back."

More likely, banks would have to get an editorial staff to check if the book is any good, correct it and... what do you know? The banks would have become publishers... only worse.

Without massive advertising/promotional-travelling, only a miracle could allow a full-time author to make a living from his books.

By Netscorer on 3/6/2012 3:35:48 PM , Rating: 2
Without massive advertising/promotional-travelling, only a miracle could allow a full-time author to make a living from his books.

In the old age publishing houses were the only way for the author to reach any substantial audience as the publishing costs were insurmountable for all but the most self-sufficient people. Majority of authors did not even dream of any substantial marketing campaign and books had to earn their costs the traditional way - through word of mouth and slow, steady continuous sales.

Books should not sell like blockbusters. This whole model of initial push to recoup the costs that were spent on editing, publishing, printing and advertizing is wrong, since it is based on the desire of the publishing house to strike a big profit and has nothing to do with quality of the product or the author's desire to make a comfortable living doing what they love most.

In the digital age, the reason for Publishing houses should continually diminish, with editorial work being gone the last. The professional editors would remain to some extent, but they would be gradually supplanted by either AI editors or community-based editing (similar to how scientific publications are being prepared). Costs of bringing book to the masses should become well within the reach of just about anyone, willing to try.

Authors would need to first, gasp, earn the reputation and the following before the can rely on becoming professional book writers.

Whether Publishing Houses want it or not, they are becoming an anachronism in the digital society.

Same goes for libraries as all content should become freely available to anyone willing to look for it.

By TSS on 3/6/2012 8:16:33 AM , Rating: 2
The problem is with the digital format, not the book. Supply and demand and all that.

Everything that is digital is in unlimited supply. It can be copied to infinity and back at virtually no cost. The only "resources" a store uses now to sell digital stuff is elecricity and bandwidth. The cost of either these days doesn't even compare with the profits they make.

Let's save the fact that 97% of the world's money is digital for later.

That's a whole lot different from having to turn a tree into 500 pages of paper, just for 1 copy of a book. You get more books from a tree, but you get the idea.

An author should be compensated according to the quality of his work yes but the manner in which that happens doesn't have to be simply sales of a book. Don't forget that money is a barrier of entry - if your book costs alot of money, alot of people won't buy it, even if they think it's worth it.

While when it's free, your work becomes it's own advertisement. Then you go do book signings, conferences, TV-shows perhaps. That's where the money come from. Same with musicians, the music should be posted online for free then the money comes from touring and concerts.

Movies are a bit trickyer, maybe movie stars will have to settle for less then millions and millions per production. But merchandise is still a good way to make a tidy profit. If the movie stars want to make a few extra bucks they can always do theatre. They are supposed to be Actors, aren't they? (and no looking confused isn't "acting". It's "being clueless").

Rather then abandoning the biggest advance in technology ever to go back to dark age systems ruled by elites (where wealth makes the new nobility), i'd like us to make another step forward to a star trek like future, where we all work to better outselves, and nothing more. The first step: Giving up insane profits for yourself to get reasonable profits and more content for everybody in return.

RE: Purpose of libraries in the digital age?
By Cheesew1z69 on 3/5/2012 10:58:33 AM , Rating: 4
It also provides access to COMPUTERS if they don't have one, not just WIFI. It has many uses.

You don't see the point, but the millions who use them, they do.

By GulWestfale on 3/5/2012 11:11:04 AM , Rating: 2
in the digital age, publishers are not really necessary anymore. anyone can publish their books both digitally and in print, for free. thus, all random house are doing here is to encourage public libraries to get more books from independent authors, which is great!

if anyone is interested in my books, here's a link:

By crimson117 on 3/5/2012 11:10:22 AM , Rating: 2
Libraries loan books for free; free wifi at McDonald's does not. Also, you need your own computer to use wifi at McDonalds, while many libraries offer public terminals.

Librries will migrate to E-Books with the rest of the world, but for the time being printed books are still dominant.

By danjw1 on 3/5/2012 11:23:47 AM , Rating: 2
I love my Kindle, but that doesn't mean I think there isn't a place for hard copies. I want my favorite books in hard copy. They are old friends I want to be to hold and read. There is a balance here.

Project Gutenberg has a lot of out of copyright books available, most (if not all) in available in e-reader friendly formats. I too would like all books to be available in digital form, but don't think there is a need to remove the option of the paper book.

RE: Purpose of libraries in the digital age?
By hughlle on 3/5/2012 12:19:05 PM , Rating: 2
Personally, i like books, i will have nothing to do with a kindle or such.

Not to mention, i can walk around the corner to the local library and borrow a book to read free of charge, if they don't have it, i give them the name and ISBN and they will have it for me a week later. Free. Most any book i care to read is not available for me to read for free if looked for online, money is involved. No thanks, i'll take a library thanks :) Long live books :D

By gorehound on 3/5/2012 12:48:54 PM , Rating: 2
I own 1300 piece physical books Collection.
I have no intention of buying EBOOKS !
They are worthless to me.
Nor do I ever want to see Libraries die.They serve a very useful function and must not go away.
These Publishers are like the MPAA & RIAA and they are nothing but a bunch of greedy rich dicks.

By nafhan on 3/5/2012 12:34:10 PM , Rating: 2
The free computer access is pretty important. There are some things cannot be done without internet access, but there are still a lot of people who don't have a laptop, etc. I'm pretty sure that hardware will eventually be so cheap/free that this will no longer be necessary.

In the future, the main thing that a library provides today (public access to various types of information), will still be important; it just won't necessarily need to be done from a physical location.

Really, though, how online libraries will/do work is a big question. With physical books, libraries are inherently inconvenient compared to purchasing and owning (for most). So, they didn't have a huge impact on publishers (plus, IP law regarding lending tends to work out better for physical goods). Online libraries, on the other hand, can only be inconvenient by design. How inconvenient must they be before publishers are OK with them? It's a question that will only become more important.

By Hakuryu on 3/5/2012 1:33:16 PM , Rating: 2
My library is great, and I visit weekly, taking out DVD movies, a book or two, and perhaps some CD's or books on tape for my great aunt. They also have free e-books and free iPads (and laptops/netbooks you can take out), house gadgets like outlet plugs that tell you how much energy is used, and perhaps the biggest thing - community.

There are always free computer classes, tax classes, photography workshops, Red Cross blood drives, etc.

My physical book never runs out of juice, does not get corrupted, can't be erased by a child, nor has DRM problems, but my biggest issue with people saying library's are outdated, is that those that say that never go to the library. How can you possibly know what is better if you don't use the service to begin with?

By Reclaimer77 on 3/5/2012 5:07:22 PM , Rating: 2
We're not THAT much into the digital age. It's not Star Trek bud. We use a crap TON of paper still.

I think it's way too early to talk about killing off libraries and ending the printing of books. A transition like this shouldn't be forced. We will come into it on our own, as is the way with all things.

All books will be digitized when all people stop reading books. Book sales still dwarf e-book sales, so we have a ways to go. Plus books still have some key advantages over e-book readers and tablets.

"Vista runs on Atom ... It's just no one uses it". -- Intel CEO Paul Otellini

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