Sunday, March 4, 2012

Random House Triples Prices Of Library E-Books

Necessary Evil? Random House Triples Prices Of Library E-Books | TechCrunch:

As Kathy Petlewski, a librarian in Plymouth, puts it: “The first thing that popped into my mind was that Random House must really hate libraries.”

But the dismay at the major increase in prices is tempered by a sort of desperate gratefulness that the publisher is willing to play ball with libraries at all. The other big publishers have been less than generous: HarperCollins’ e-books “expire” after 26 uses, Hachette and Macmillan only make part of their list available, and others like Penguin and Simon&Schuster don’t allow library lending at all.
I've done nothing but rave about how much I love using my kindle to check books out of my local library, so this is distressing to read, yet I can't think of a solution that satisfies the publishers and the readers. Libraries are an invaluable resource, but publishers are capitalist enterprises who've got make money. Limiting the number of times an e-book can be lent is a poor solution, so I'm leaning towards finding the appropriate throttling of lending. The more a library pays for an e-book, it seems to me, the more copies of it they should be able to lend simultaneously. Shorter lending terms when the book is new also make sense. I'm sure publishers could sell more e-books if they gave the reader the option to buy a copy of the library e-book they borrowed at the end of the lending period. For bestsellers, a seven day loan period would probably result in a predictable number of borrowers who don't finish the book, but would be willing to buy it instead of having to wait for it to become available again for another loan period.

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