Recent publisher embargoes make it more difficult for libraries to purchase e-content.
Posts Tagged ‘ebooks and libraries’
Trends are showing a flattening of the e-book explosion. According to the Association of American Publishers, e-book sales fell by 11 percent through third quarter 2015. Five years ago, experts predicted e-book sales becoming 50 percent of book sale market. They also predicted that the sales of e-books through online retailers would cause brick-and-mortar stores to decline. While e-book sales did increase exponentially, we have a seen a flattening of this trend. Even the marketplace is beginning to demonstrate physical presence has its place. Online-only retailer Amazon has made the move to expand into the brick-and-mortar market.
Libraries, despite some strides toward a reasonable solution, still struggle with the cost of e-books. Regardless of the clear data showing the benefit of libraries lending an author’s work in print, publishers still hesitate to budge on e-book pricing. It’s different, they say. And in some ways they are right. But with issues of preservation, shrinking budgets, and rising costs, libraries have to be extremely careful about what books they stock both in print and in digital form.
It’s clear libraries and librarians face unique challenges as more and more content is presented digitally. One of the concerns I have heard from librarians relates to one of their primary missions: preservation. As an author, I share this concern. It’s been said that literature is writing that fifty years after the author’s death is forced upon high-school students by their teachers, who strive to explain what the author meant when he wrote “the sky is blue.”
What do book subscription services have to do with libraries? Well, in a Forbes article, Tim Worstall suggests we “close all of the libraries and buy everyone a Kindle Unlimited subscription.” Using his home country of the United Kingdom, the author argues such an action would benefit the public in the long run. Are subscription services library killers? Here are some simple reasons why not.
In a thestar.com article dated June 18, 2015, Vickery Bowles of Toronto Public Library lamented that the Big Five Publishers charge libraries up to $135 per ebook, sometimes five times the cost consumers pay. These publishers supply nearly half of all library books, according to the story. Purchasing multiple copies of high interest titles has put tremendous strain on some library’s budgets.
In many respects, going digital just makes more sense, such as the choice between physical reference books and online databases. However choosing the digital option for books, while increasingly a part of our lives, does not necessarily have such a clear answer.
The DCWG, which formed during the ALA Annual Meetings in New Orleans in 2011, have already done a lot for the library community in the short time that it has been existent. In partnership with the ALA, here are some of the things that Sari Feldman, director of the Cuyahoga Public Library and a member of DCWG, updated the audience on their progress: