A Couple of Synopses, News for Muggles, and Random House gets pricey: Libraries and E-Content News

March 2, 2012
Posted in: Featured

Image of woman screaming in horror over Random House's price increases for library ebooksThis week, we start with a great overview of the publishers and vendors in the library ebook market from The Digital Shift. The guide provides background information about publishers from the  Big 7 (Kelley includes Scholastic in his assessment of the major publishers) to smaller publishers, and their partners/distributors, with particular focus on their lending models for libraries. It is essential reading for understanding the current state of ebooks in libraries.

The Jan/Feb issue of Public Libraries magazine from the PLA is filled with articles on ebooks and access. It is worth a read from front to back. However, if you are strapped for time, one article you should read is Toby Greenwalt’s article on developing an ebook strategy for libraries. Greenwalt starts with what libraries can do to become ebook-friendly (core competencies for staff), and moves into long-term solutions (with a reference to Library Renewal!).

Over at the Loose Cannon Librarian, Kate Sheehan writes about the friction between libraries’ non-profit values when operating in the for-profit world of our vendors, and how the dynamics of that situation are fluctuating. It is a contemplative post on what it means to be a non-profit working with the for-profit companies that control so many of our systems and content offerings..

Jane Litte writes on DearAuthor an opinion letter to publishers asking, “What have you done for me lately?”  Litte points out that publishers are asking readers to be the ones to fight companies such as Amazon for their rights, while those same publishers constantly erect barriers to access to digital books. Another take on the relationship between publishers, their readers and access.

By now you have already learned that Harry Potter is coming to OverDrive, albeit with a five year lending limit. And no word on accessibility for Kindle users. But, as Library Journal notes,

“For once…libraries will have a bestselling ebook that stores don’t, rather than the other way around.”

That’s right. Aside from Pottermore (where the books are DRM-free), libraries will have exclusive access to the e-version of Harry Potter.

We finish up the week with the news that Random House’s new pricing structure for library ebooks increases per-copy costs by double, or even triple. Andy Woodworth posits that many libraries are “pot locked,” or have invested so much time, money and effort in their Overdrive subscriptions that they cannot walk away, despite the now steady decrease in the amount of ebook/audiobook content that is available through the vendor. As a result, libraries will have to live with Random House’s move, and react by focusing ebook spending only on bestsellers. Bobbi Newman has put together a round up of posts about the Random House prices, including Library Renewal board member David Lee King’s excellent breakdown of the ramifications of the new pricing structure.

Don’t forget that we share lots of news links on our Twitter feed throughout the week.

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