eBooks and Money

I recently discovered the blog Good e-Reader run by Michael Kozlowksi, which aggregates news related to ebooks.  As I was perusing the site, I came across posts dealing with ebooks and money.  Being in acquisitions, I’m all about money and electronic resources – so this information stood out.

chopped up money
“Money” by Tax Credits. Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr.

Here are all of the different rates publishers charge libraries” lists what the major publishers charge libraries for access to ebooks.  My institution has the money and the clout to buy academic ebooks outright, for the most part, but most libraries have to lease titles.  And popular titles become even harder to acquire, and usually only through a license (i.e. the library cannot buy the ebook).  And these licenses are pretty expensive – like Hachette’s three times the price of print.

So, while I know that publishers seem to be stealing money from libraries with their outrageous pricing, I found it interesting that publishers are reporting plummeting ebook revenues.

How is that happening?  I cannot say for sure, but I have a few ideas:

  • For people reading creative literature and for people who need to read deeply, print is preferred.  (We see that in my library.)  Perhaps more of the marketplace is reading creative literature or needs to engage in deep reading.
  • People are reading less in general, so all sales would go down.  Or a certain demographic is reading less, which affects ebook sales.  (For example, younger readers who would use ebooks are reading less, while older people continue to read but prefer print formats.)
  • eBook pricing is too high.  Though ebooks take the same amount of resources to produce and market as print books, many readers feel that they get less value with the ebook – thus, perhaps they are returning to print because they perceive that they get more value for the same money.

I don’t know for sure.  These are just conjectures.

But one thing is for sure: it’s always interesting in the land of electronic resources.


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