Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

E-Books, Libraries, Publishers, & Bottom Lines

I happen to live in the United States but consider myself a world citizen.

The story I want to feature today is from the U.S. but its lessons can be extrapolated to other countries.

Libraries in the U.S. are having many challenges in equitable dealings with traditional publishers.

I feel other countries are watching and, hopefully, making adjustments that can stave off the worst manifestations of publisher greed.

I hear the publishers complaining that “market forces” compel them to charge more for books than one high-profile Web retailer—Amazon—and that lower prices may not actually be good for readers (verging on the inane, eh?).

I’m also aware that individual authors are offering self-published books on their own, ignoring the trends, and making good money.

But then I hear things like:

“Penguin Group recently blocked Kindle owners from the ability to download library e-books directly from their devices…”

“Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Penguin do not sell e-book versions of their titles to libraries, while Hachette refuses to sell its newest e-books to libraries.”

“…Random House is the only one of the “Big Six” publishers to do so—and it recently increased its prices significantly…”

Those quotes are from the article by Jenny Shank called What Is the Role of Libraries in the Age of E-Books and Digital Information?

Yet, her meticulous writing also reveals these thoughts:

“…’it will get settled. Librarians, library service organizations, and others are engaged in trying to make sure the eventual terms and conditions for the use of digital books are ones that are fair to all involved.'”

“Despite libraries’ impasse with publishers over restricted e-book use, many are forging ahead in the digital realm, offering patrons new services.”

Her article also deals with other digital services libraries offer—services that help those with economic challenges

Ms. Shank may be a novelist but this article shows her journalistic talent; and, you can also read her essay on the books that made her a lifelong reader.
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9 responses to “E-Books, Libraries, Publishers, & Bottom Lines

  1. Simone Benedict June 15, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Power and greed. My thought is their posturing will only hurt them in the long run. In my brief lifetime, I’ve always seen U.S. libraries providing excellent services to its patrons.

    At my local library we can rent bread machines, as well as cakepans, (swear on a stack of Bibles).


  2. martinaseveckepohlen June 16, 2012 at 6:52 am

    In Germany, the price for books and ebooks is fixed. When I enter a title in the national catalogue I have to give a price. The book will be sold by this price until I decide to change it. But there are restrictions to changing prices. Libraries therefore pay the same as any buyer. The librarian from the village where I lived until last year just went into the book store and bought from the shelf. I don’t know how things are managed where I live now but I suppose it’s similar. According to the newsletter of the society of publishers and book merchants about 25% of libraries offer ebooks. Libraries are usually financed by the communities. They have received less money over the last fifteen years, many libraries in smaller towns were closed, especially in the Eastern part of Germany.
    I’m surprised about the services Simone’s local library offers. This library is really part of a community. A reading night for children is the most to expect here.


    • Alexander M Zoltai June 16, 2012 at 12:04 pm


      I really treasure the way you let us know what’s happening in Germany

      There are similarities to my country and also some differences

      One big difference, personally, is the way I set the paperback price of my latest book at $12.33 but some other retailers who have picked it up will charge as much at $28.00.

      Wouldn’t it be lovely if folks from other countries (and my stats show at least 15 other countries) would let us know what’s happening with libraries there?


      • martinaseveckepohlen June 16, 2012 at 12:25 pm

        I agree that it would be wonderful to get more information from other countries. Blogs likes yours offer a perfect way to exchange information about subjects we are interested in, and maybe new ideas can grow from that and be shared and acted upon.
        If people from other countries are reading your posts but don’t write comments they might be afraid of offering their opinions in another language. I take a lot longer writing my comments in English than in German, BUT I THINK more about what I write :-) Nobody should be shy with a host like you, Alexander.


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