Publishers have been changing their rules for how they sell ebooks to libraries. Digital content is becoming more expensive and embargoes on library sales are starting. While we do our best to fulfill patron requests in OverDrive, we are not always able to access ebooks and eaudiobooks. Pricing and access rules vary by publisher and sometimes by imprint. CNN has published an overview of the situation written by Vermont librarian Jessamyn West.
The Big Five
Hachette Book Group (Divisions and Imprints)
As of July 1, 2019: Two-year access for ebook and eaudiobook titles. Prices are significantly higher than retail prices.
American Library Association’s response: ALA ‘concerned’ over Hachette Book Group ebook and audio book lending model changes
HarperCollins (Divisions and Imprints)
Ebooks have a 26-loan license. Prices are significantly higher than retail prices.
Macmillian (Divisions and Imprints)
As of November 1, 2019: One copy of an ebook available to each library system in perpetuity upon publication. On that single copy the price is cut in half to $30 (currently first copies are $60 and need renewal after two years or 52 lends). Additional copies of that title will not be available for library purchase until 8 weeks after publication.
American Library Association’s response: ALA denounces new Macmillan library lending model, urges library customers to voice objections
Penguin Random House (Divisions and Imprints)
As of October 1, 2018: Two-year access for ebook titles. Adult titles are capped at $55 (or $57 for DK titles), YA titles at $45/$47 (DK), and children’s titles at $35/$37 (DK). Any PRH ebooks purchased prior to October 1 will remain a perpetual license.
Simon & Schuster (Divisions and Imprints)
As of August 1, 2019: Two-year access for ebook and eaudiobook titles. Prices range from $38.99-to-$52.99 for ebooks and $39.99 to $79.99 for eaudiobooks.
American Library Association’s response: ALA uneasy about Simon & Schuster digital lending model changes
Other major publishers:
As of July 1, 2019: 90-day embargo on library sales of eaudiobook titles.
- Reader’s First, an international coalition of libraries working to ensure library access to ebooks.
- Whatcom’s Boycott of Blackstone Audio.
- Econtent for Libraries, the comprehensive response from the Canadian Library Association.
- Panorama Project, an initiative from OverDrive to research the real impact of public libraries on book sales and publishing.
- Publisher’s Weekly Library News