eBooks are expensive for libraries

Blogger and book lover Modern Mrs. Darcy, posted today about how expensive eBooks are for libraries. I’ve often wondered how the process works, and it seems that it really doesn’t:

Should I have known this already? Probably. But did I? Nope. This spring I’ve done several events with librarians all over the country, who all echoed the same sentiment: the current model of lending ebooks to patrons is not sustainable, because the costs libraries pay to offer them are substantial. But patrons love ebooks.

And if you really want to go down the rabbit hole, she points to a Good Reader article that explains the whole model in detail.

When libraries put new paper books on their shelves, they simply buy the book. When libraries put ebooks into circulation, they don’t just buy the book. They buy ebooks at a significant markup, averaging $25 per copy in 2018, and they can only use them for a limited time before they are required to pay to renew the license. Some publishers don’t sell to libraries at all; they want every individual reader to purchase every book.

For more info, check out this breakdown of how much libraries pay for ebooks from publishers. It’s not the most current—and one top publisher just announced changes to their pricing model yesterday—but it’s thorough.

Food for thought. Library eBooks have always seemed like the best of all options, but it sounds like a monthly trip to your local branch might be better for the long term health of your library.

– Jenna

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