Random House Raises E-Book Prices for Libraries as Much as 300 Percent
March 5, 2012 10:14 AM
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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
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,
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.
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RE: Purpose of libraries in the digital age?
3/5/2012 11:23:47 AM
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.
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