Last year a coalition of Canadian libraries banded together to draw attention to overpriced e-books. The Toronto Public Library, Canadian Library Council, Ontario Library Association and the Canadian Library Association were the founding members and now there are over 30 individual branches that have taken up the cause.
The main premise of FairEbookPrices has to do with lobbying the government in Ottawa and building public awareness on just how much libraries are spending on e-books. The latest novel by J.K. Rowling aka Robert Galbraith retails on Amazon for $16.99, but libraries pay $117 per copy. James Patterson’s latest Alex Cross is $14.99 on Kobo, but libraries are paying $121.00 per copy.
The big problem that libraries in Canada face is that publishers have no unified pricing strategy and they all have different terms and conditions.
Penguin Random House
Prices: Varies, $65 per book max
License: 26 loans then must repurchase
Prices: Varies, generally not more than cost of HC equivalent and often less
License: 2 Years/52 loans (whichever comes first) then must repurchase
Prices: Titles less than 12 month old $60, older than 12 months $40
Simon & Schuster
License: Expires after one year, then must repurchase (experimenting with 2 yr term for 1.5x price)
Prices: Generally more than consumer cost, but less than hardcover
Priceing: Generally 3 times hardcover price.
The movement to make the plight of libraries known to the public is starting to pay off. The CBC did a national story on it last June and on March 31st 2016 a number of prominent librarians staged a Twitter chat and thousands of people participated.
I have talked to a number of librarians who belong to this organization and they hope more publishers start to emulate Penguin/Random House. On January the 1st 2016 Penguin Random House has implemented new terms for libraries. Every new e-book that is purchased from companies like 3M, Baker & Taylor and Overdrive will have a perpetual license. Additionally Penguin Random House e-books will now range from under $20 per title to a newly set maximum of $65, reduced from the current maximum of $85 US and $95 CAD.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and Verge.