Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Library EBooks Get No Love

With libraries basking in the post-Christmas glow of a renewed patron interest in eBooks, one would think only positive things would be on the library eBooks horizon. Unfortunately, beginning last fall, libraries have seen a continued decline in the number of publishers wishing to sell them library eBooks, culminating in Penguin’s most recent announcement that they will no longer be offering additional copies of eBooks and downloadable audiobooks for purchase through OverDrive.

In November 2011, Penguin declared that they would no longer be selling new eBook titles through OverDrive (see my post on this). Following that, both BrillianceAudio and Penguin pulled their audiobooks selections from OverDrive in January. Penguin’s final straw came on February 9, 2012, when they announced they would be ceasing sales through OverDrive February 10, 2012. This latest development followed Random House’s affirmation that it would continue to sell eBooks to libraries without any lending restrictions, but would be raising prices. Although there is talk that Penguin is working on a "continuance agreement" for materials that libraries have already purchased, Random House is the only one of the Big Six publishers selling through OverDrive at this time.

Penguin’s retraction seems to have signaled a “gloves-off” response on the part of libraries. Not only are well-known blogger librarians providing their followers with scripts for how to talk to their patrons about their decreased eBook selection, others are posting information in their libraries about how to contact publishers. Although these measures may seem drastic, if we are to heed the warning of Andy Woodworth’s number one prediction for 2012 – “Here Come The Embargoes!” – this may be the moment for libraries and eBooks.

Whichever way librarians choose to fight it, libraries do need to stay in the eBook loop and that may mean either considering alternative suppliers or alternative ways to offer eBooks. Due to changes in OverDrive lending, some libraries have already launched their own eBook platforms. It is hard to say how this will all develop, the eBook landscape is definitely shifting.

No comments:

Post a Comment