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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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.

"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard

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