Random House Publishing will be increasing their pricing for electronic titles more than 20 percent for new adult fare and more than double the current pricing for new children’s titles. Local Michiana library systems will see this increase reflected in their eBook purchases.
“The library is always watching the bottom line”, Pamela Armstrong stated in response to the news of Random House increasing their ebook pricing. Armstrong is the Department Head of Cataloging for the Saint Joseph County Public Library (SJCPL) system.
On a national level The American Library Association (ALA) president Molly Raphael noted via their press release that while they appreciate Random House’s commitment to perpetual access they went on to say:
“I am deeply disappointed in the severe escalation in ebook pricing reported today. Calling on our history together and our hope to satisfy mutual goals moving forward, the ALA strongly urges Random House to reconsider its decision. In a time of extreme financial constraint, a major price increase effectively curtails access for many libraries, and especially our communities that are hardest hit economically.
Michiana libraries certainly qualify, as circuit breaker tax legislation passed in 2006 caused cuts in local library budgets ever since. This funding shortage has required government agencies to reevaluate services, short and long term. Unlike our local Post Office hub in downtown South Bend which is scheduled to close this year, our local libraries have cut costs to stay open. By adapting to new technology SJCPL fights to stay relevant to new readers.
“I don’t want to see e-publishing going the way of the music industry” said Armstrong, “a happy medium hopefully will be found”.
SJCPL has partnered with Overdrive, a digital distributor specializing in offering schools and libraries affordable access to eBooks and audio books. Overdrive works with publishers, like Random House, to provide content digitally, so they will be passing on any price increases.
“Publishers don’t want the perceived value of the content to go down so they are being very cautious about the pricing of the (digital) files.” Chief exec of consulting firm eBook Architects opinoned for a SmartMoney article on ebooks.
SJCPL begun offering Overdrive to patrons in 2011 and currently have over 4700 digital titles available. With only two-thirds of libraries offering digital lending the Random House decision is not encouraging.
Michiana patrons can support their library system a number of ways. Contributing to their ongoing fundraising drive, voluteering or simply by patronizing the library, it’s programs and it’s eBooks titles. Helping your local libraries now will insure they will be around tomorrow for the next generation of readers.