When it comes to the big six publishers, most of them don’t allow their ebooks to be borrowed from the public library or, if they do, charge exorbitant amounts. Simon & Shuster and Macmillian both do not support digital libraries at all, while HarperCollins has imposed a 26 limit checkout before libraries are forced to repurchase the items. Penguin, for the most part, allows unbridled access but does not support the Kindle. Today, Hachette has informed Overdrive and various other libraries that the company will be increasing costs on its ebooks by over 220% on October 1st, 2012.
Hachette does not sell frontlist titles to Overdrive and other library partners. This new price change will affect close to 3,500 ebooks that are available for libraries to purchase. If you are an existing library doing business with Overdrive, I would encourage you to make your purchases now before they go up in October.
Digital Book World managed to get an official comment from Hachette regarding the price increase. “As part of an experimental pilot to find out more about the digital library marketplace, we revised ebook prices earlier this year. HBG notified all our public library distributors (including OverDrive) that we would be selling ebooks to them under new terms. We believe these terms fairly reflect the value to the library customer, that the ebooks will not need periodic replacement as do print copies, and there is no limit on amount of borrowing activity per ebook copy. Our new pricing was sent electronically to accounts as part of our regular data feed (ONIX). Due to an internal systems issue at Overdrive, for the limited number of backlist titles they carry, they failed to ingest the proper data until recently. We are working with libraries, Overdrive, and several other partners to gather information and explore various options for making HBGs ebooks available to readers in a rapidly changing digital world.”