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Topic: e-books at libraries are not so inexpensive as you might think

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Subject: e-books at libraries are not so inexpensive as you might think
Date Posted: 6/10/2013 11:19 PM ET
Member Since: 10/7/2008
Posts: 906
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I just read an article that was posted on a group I belong to on Goodreads.  It details a very frustrating relationship libraries have with publishers and the e-books titles they buy from them.  Because the publishers see the libraries as competitors in the e-book market, the pubs are charging almost 3 times the price for e-book titles as print copies.  Then they can only have them for 26 checkouts and then must buy them again!  This is just ridiculous and there is no reason other than greed for the publishers to do this.

So I am making sure any e-book I checkout is read so I don't have to renew it and use more of those uses than necessary.  Take a look and see what you think


Date Posted: 6/11/2013 7:22 AM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2005
Posts: 7,977
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It's been discussed before. The way some libraries handle it was to boycott the worst offender, Harper Collins. And why many libraries will buy other ebooks from other places than just the top sellers. They have to be more cost conscious with what they set aside for ebook purchases.
Date Posted: 6/11/2013 8:08 AM ET
Member Since: 10/30/2006
Posts: 8,426
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Here's the thing about libraries and ebooks: sometimes you have to make tough decisions based on what your patrons want.

My local library has an Overdrive ebook program. It is extremely small and they try their best. I can see they buy some budget grouped collections every now and then , and then they'll spring for the big movers like 50 Shades or Inferno, but usually one copy each. My librarian told me what they've found is that the people who have ereaders are usually the more financially savvy and higher income patrons. Basically, if you're knowledgeable about ebooks and can afford and choose to spend disposbale income on a book reading machine, then you're probably doing well financially. Most likely you can also afford to buy some ebooks for that reader as well.

Contrast that with the choice of spending money on English as a Second Language programs, laptops (I can't believe how many people are in there daily checking out laptops to use in the library on the wifi.) We have a high demand for children's selections. A lot of young families are always in there checking out children's books. So, a library has to decide how to use the budget and I can understand if they don't fully jump on board with ebooks right now.

But, then you have the big libraries (Free Library of Philadelphia and Brooklyn Public Library and a couple out in California) that will sell an out of area membership (I have one to Brooklyn) and they have 20,000+ ebooks. Brooklyn has not only Overdrive, but also the 3M program. It's crazy. And with that size and scope, I'm pretty sure they're not paying those list rates for ebooks.

At the end of the day, I'm going to read the free copy from the library. I read as many as possible in digital, but authors like Brad Thor, Lisa Kleypas, etc. I'll read the print version. It's funny. There a couple of holdout publishers and when they hold out, they really hold out. You can't even get a digital audiobook from them. Their loss.

Date Posted: 6/11/2013 12:27 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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No surprises for me since I work in a library, and see how much I could buy the same ebook, compared to what the library is paying for that same ebook.

I also DO tell patrons about the various libraries that sell membership, I've no issues with supporting other libraries and allowing people choices.

We buy ebooks that people request because we get MANY ebook requests we cannot get them all.  But if given the choice of an ebook with restrictions OR without, we will get the without restrictions ebook.  We use overdrive.

Date Posted: 6/11/2013 6:52 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,484
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This gets into quite a bit of politics as Overdrive offers different libraries different book choices and prices.  So if your library is a big buyer, they will be offered more titles at lower prices.  This is the reason that libraries are collecting into groups. 

I've heard that Overdrive takes into consideration your library's policy on issuing cards to non-residents.

Here in California there is a state law that requires a library to give you a card if you are a state resident and actually come to the library.

My father's library charges the tax dollar amount that the library receives from property tax for residents that are outside the city limits.  So it is a really expensive library card.

Last Edited on: 6/11/13 6:52 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/17/2013 6:31 AM ET
Member Since: 5/22/2013
Posts: 28
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It's a nice article which has meaninful content really...