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 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.

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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