A recent article on CMS Wire and other outlets had me wondering if publishers are taking the wrong approach in their efforts to keep the status quo when it comes to books. They want to keep print books, of course. They make more money on print books (and authors make less on them than when they e-publish).
Their recent move is to limit the number of times a library can lend an e-book published by them. This is different from print books, to which publishers do not attach a limit when they sell it to libraries. For example, the policy of Harper Collins is now that “libraries can 'lease' (for a fee) new HarperCollins e-books and loan them no more than 26 times. At that point, the book disappears — digitally — unless the library pays to lease another copy for the next 26 readers.”
This seems to say to libraries either buy the print copy or be prepared to buy and re-buy and re-buy the e-book. I think we all know that most libraries don’t have that kind of money.
We also know that a lot of people need libraries. They can’t afford or don’t want to spend thousands of dollars buying books. And we also know (I know, from experience) that people find authors they love through libraries and end up buying future books from that author. This article backs me up on that with a previous article they ran which concluded that lending e-books leads to increased sales of the print version.
When you consider:
1. More and more people are getting eReaders
2. eReaders will probably come down in price
3. A lot of e-books are cheaper to buy than the print version
You might conclude:
1. People won’t turn to libraries for as many books since they may not be able to get the ebooks there that they want, which will hurt the libraries.
2. HC, and other publishers if they follow suit, will end up losing potential future sales.
3. Authors will lose out because they won’t be discovered by those who try out new authors because they won’t go to libraries because there won’t be a wide selection of e-books because publishers are charging them multiple times for the same book.
So…are publishers, by forcing libraries to buy and re-buy e-books, making libraries less likely to buy them, thus hurting potential sales of both e-books and print books?
3 days ago