Librarians Feel Sticker Shock as Price for Random House Ebooks Rises as Much as 300 Percent

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Here’s another one from The Digital Shift:

New prices for Random House’s ebooks took effect on Thursday, and as the details emerged a number of librarians across the country expressed dismay at the doubling and tripling in prices they are seeing.

“We’re very concerned. These are tough times for libraries. It’s very tough here in Louisville,” said Debbe Oberhausen, manager of collection services, at the Louisville Free Public Library. “We want to provide this service, but this kind of pricing is really going to take a huge chunk of our budget,” she said.

On Wednesday, Oberhausen bought Eisenhower in War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith for $40 via OverDrive. On Thursday, the price was $120. The print version of the book, with the library’s discount, is a little over $20 (it retails at $40). For Blessings by Anna Quindlen the ebook price went from $15 to $45.

More in the article.

4 Comments on Librarians Feel Sticker Shock as Price for Random House Ebooks Rises as Much as 300 Percent

  1. Why are these corporate executives so dense? In this case, I suspect they’re in a panic because their old business model is collapsing. The arrival of ebooks means the ebooks they sell will have an efficient and unlimited check out life. An ebook that returns one minute can be going out to another patron the next minute forever. That has them raising prices, but they’re also foolishly pricing themselves off the market. Libraries have all sorts of policies about purchasing. All they need do is initiate one that says they’ll not buy ebooks that cost more than the hardback edition.

    I feel like a broken record. I keep saying this over and over again. This giant publishers need to get into the ebook rental business. Supply every willing library with what’ll appear to be free copies of every title and charge per-checkout fees. Their market would expand enormously and they’d turn brief sales spurts into a steady stream of income.

  2. Common Sense // March 2, 2012 at 2:48 pm //

    Well, that’s one way to kill ebooks in libraries, and more quickly put your publishing company out of business. The ebook horse is out of the barn and it’s not going back in. Publishers either need to get with the 21st century or cease to exist.

    The obvious solution to me is for someone to become a distributor for indie authors and small publishers and work with Overdrive to provide those books to libraries at a reasonable price with no restrictions. There are also many authors self-publishing their backlists that would jump at the opportunity. Perhaps it could be modeled something like the Kindle Lending Library where authors could get paid per checkout plus some amount for making a title available.

    It would also be an obvious opportunity for Amazon’s publishing branch to expand their reason outside of Amazon.

    These publishers need to realize there are many alternatives to their products, either other books in the same genre or other entertainment options like movies and games.

    The biggest difference that I see between Amazon and the Big 6 publishers is that Amazon responds to customers needs and wants and the publishers don’t care about their customers other than a potential sale. In fact, publishers don’t even see readers as their customers, they only see dying bookstores.

  3. Binko Barnes // March 2, 2012 at 6:53 pm //

    Librarians should launch an education campaign so that library patrons will understand the extent to which publishers are gouging the libraries on ebooks.

    It’s a sad thing, but when the big seven publishers finally go out of business it will be a huge net positive to the world of reading and literature and learning.

  4. dave blevins // March 3, 2012 at 10:58 am //

    Amazon price for us “civilians” is $24.54 others have it for $19.98 !!!

    Seems like the MPAA and RIAA execs have invaded the big publishers now.

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