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dornishpen

MacMillan restricting libraries' ability to purchase ebooks

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The publisher MacMillan (the 5th largest) is severely restricting sales of ebooks to libraries for the first 60 days after release. They will only sell one copy to each library system, no matter how large, for the first 60 days. To put this in more context, like a physical book libraries can only lone out a copy of an ebook to one patron at a time, libraries pay significantly more for ebooks than consumers do (usually at least 3 times more per copy and for popular books may buy many copies), many ebooks for libraries as well as costing significantly more than consumer ebooks also expire after a certain time period or being checked out a certain number of times (usually 1-2 years if time limited). MacMillan claims that library ebooks cut into their profits, I think they're being short sighted because libraries probably account for a lot of sales of new and mid-list authors and by doing so introduce readers to authors they may not have been willing to take a chance on purchasing as an unknown quantity. I also doubt it cuts much into their profits as people who are willing to spend months on an ebook waiting list for a popular new release probably were never going to buy it, but someone might try a new author and then buy some books if they like that author. The American Library Association created a petition, but it appears to have changed nothing. Many libraries are now boycotting MacMillan. Personally as a strong supporter of public libraries this makes me angry enough to boycott MacMillan and all of their imprints (including Tor).

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This is really a terrible decision on their part. They're blaming the libraries, but the fact is that it's their e-book pricing that is the problem. You can argue until you're blue in the face about the costs of making e-books and that consumers should understand the price point, but the fact is that they don't. And most of those lost sales aren't turning to a library copy that they might have to wait weeks or months to read, they're going to piracy.

I strongly disapprove of piracy and do not do this myself. But trying to pretend that libraries are the reason people aren't willing to spend $15+ on an e-book is just being willfully ignorant.

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I agree a substantial increase in downloading pirated copies is more likely than a substantial increase in sales. A library copy may cost $90 and be downloaded 50 times before the license expires, so obviously there's less profit per reader, but pirated copies result in no profit per reader (a lot of people in the social media discussions about this who are supporting the publisher seem to be under the impression that library books are free for the library as well as the patron), and from what I understand the difference in prices for libraries is much greater for ebooks than physical books, so they're doing better with those.

Also libraries are a public good and give many people access to things they wouldn't be able to access otherwise. 

Edited by dornishpen

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3 hours ago, Starkess said:

This is really a terrible decision on their part. They're blaming the libraries, but the fact is that it's their e-book pricing that is the problem. You can argue until you're blue in the face about the costs of making e-books and that consumers should understand the price point, but the fact is that they don't. And most of those lost sales aren't turning to a library copy that they might have to wait weeks or months to read, they're going to piracy.

I strongly disapprove of piracy and do not do this myself. But trying to pretend that libraries are the reason people aren't willing to spend $15+ on an e-book is just being willfully ignorant.

Fucking amen.

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Don't most libraries utilize commercial e-book entities like Overdrive?  Overdrive provides both print e-books and audio e-books, licensing them from other e-book entities like Tantor and so on, for a period of time. Are the publishers refusing to license to Overdrive, etc.?  It's so murky.

Overdrive, like Audible, is a service an individual can subscribe to. Our library system subscribes to it as a service its users, so we don 't pay -- the system's budget does.  But one does have to download the program, if one wishes to read or listen offline (which is great!).  I think amazon and so on are the real problem in many ways -- as well as the publishers themselves, trying to behave like Spotify -- which is bad too, for the artists, but nevermind that for now!

BTW, when Overdrive etc. license a title, the authors get paid -- not a lot, but some, which is better than not at all -- and a lot more than Spotify pays.

 

Edited by Zorral

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2 hours ago, Zorral said:

Don't most libraries utilize commercial e-book entities like Overdrive?  Overdrive provides both print e-books and audio e-books, licensing them from other e-book entities like Tantor and so on, for a period of time. Are the publishers refusing to license to Overdrive, etc.?  It's so murky.

Overdrive, like Audible, is a service an individual can subscribe to. Our library system subscribes to it as a service its users, so we don 't pay -- the system's budget does.  But one does have to download the program, if one wishes to read or listen offline (which is great!).  I think amazon and so on are the real problem in many ways -- as well as the publishers themselves, trying to behave like Spotify -- which is bad too, for the artists, but nevermind that for now!

BTW, when Overdrive etc. license a title, the authors get paid -- not a lot, but some, which is better than not at all -- and a lot more than Spotify pays.

 

Yes most use overdrive, though there are other programs, however what libraries get is not the same as if an individual were to subscribe to overdrive (which I did not think was an option prior to your post) and what is available for check out is based on what that library or library consortium has purchased from the publishers, not whatever the service has available for paid subscribers. Overdrive provides the platform, but they're not really part of this as libraries make purchases, they don't buy subscriptions to overdrive's own offerings (obviously they license the software and it has to be available on the platform). Macmillan has a policy effective November first that they will only sell one copy of each new book to each library system no matter what the size for the first 8 weeks, for a best seller a large library system would normally buy hundreds of copies initially (most would not get renewed).

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