July 20: An E-books Embargo For Libraries (14 min.)
Tor Books, a science fiction and fantasy publisher and division of Macmillan, has moved to change its “e-book lending model to libraries as part of a test program to determine the impact of e-lending on retail sales,” reports Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly senior writer. Beginning this month, newly-released titles will not be available until four months after the publication date. The “embargo” practice has sparked a backlash by librarians.
“It’s yet another wrinkle in an already complex lending scheme that librarians must manage, and I think what is bothering librarians most of all is that [the change] came without warning,” Albanese tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally.
“I spoke to Michael Blackwell, a librarian in Maryland who is one of the organizers of ReadersFirst, a coalition of some 300 libraries dedicated to improving e-book access and services for public library users. He called the move a ‘giant leap backwards’ for libraries and disputed the idea that library e-book lending is hurting Tor’s retail e-book sales.”
Sept. 7: More Changes In E-book Lending For Public Libraries (the first 6 min. 30 seconds)
In what the publisher called “good news” for libraries and their patrons, Penguin Random House has announced that as of October 1, 2018, the house is changing its e-book lending licenses for public libraries in the U.S. The shift moves access to book titles from a “perpetual access” model (where libraries pay a higher price but retain access to the e-book forever) to a “metered model” (with lower prices on e-books that expire after two years).
“PRH top titles today are capped at $65 for a ‘perpetual access e-book license. The new top price will be $55. Lower prices are a good thing—but a $10 drop is not enough librarians say, especially if they have the burden now of relicensing John Grisham titles,” Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly senior writer, reports.
“What librarians really wanted from PRH was a choice. They want to be able to own a perpetual access copy or two for the collection at whatever price, and then add [more copies of the same title] to meet periods of high demand without having to buy more perpetual access copies,” Albanese tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally.
“Much of what publishers do with library e-book pricing is about defending other markets, but I think that’s shortsighted and self-defeating. If anything comes out of these changes I hope it will be to kick up a discussion about why digital readers in libraries are treated differently,” he adds.