eBooks: The Sneaky Threat to Libraries

http://www.wired.com/opinion/2013/10/how-ebook-pricing-hurts-us-in-more-ways-than-you-think/

With the fast pace developments in the world of technology, everything has an electronic version to it.  And since the entrance of eBooks into the literary world, readers and literary providers have been trying to keep up.  Unfortunately, with the presence of this race to stay relevant, libraries seem to be taking the biggest hit.

The major problem and disparity is that consumers and libraries of eBooks get charged differently.  As a public individual who is simply purchasing an eBook for his/her private eReader, shopping is made easy, and cheap, a lot of times.  However, this is not the case for libraries.

I would like to quote the article to paint a true picture of the predicament libraries find themselves in when entering the world of eBooks:

“Take the example of J.K. Rowling’s pseudonymous book, Cuckoo’s Calling. For the physical book, libraries would pay $14.40 from book distributor Baker & Taylor — close to the consumer price of $15.49 from Barnes & Noble and of $15.19 from Amazon. But even though the eBook will cost consumers $6.50 on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, libraries would pay $78 (through library eBook distributors Overdrive and 3M) for the same thing.”

That is absolutely ridiculous!  Because libraries provide readers with FREE access, ePublishers take complete advantage of these public providers in order to hone in on the biggest profit.  And because libraries are trying to fight shut downs and losing patronage, many pay these heinous prices–simply to stay in the race.

Somehow libraries, because they make books and information possible for every individual (no matter their background), are being taken advantage of by eBook providers.  Also, what makes the situation even worse is the fact that many authors are on the same evil bandwagon.  They are against the institution of libraries–some have gone as far as calling them “fascist.”  It is mind-boggling that people still think this way in terms of the written word, and it certainly creates a huge break between the haves and the have-nots.

Additionally, you may have noticed that eBooks have restrictions in terms of access.  For example, if you buy an eBook on Amazon, you are only able to access it through a Kindle device or Kindle ‘connection’ (such as the Kindle reader app.)  If you purchase an Apple iBook, you can only view it on an Apple device–this is how eBooks are different.  It would be like saying, “You cannot read your paperback of Pride and Prejudice in that student lounge, but you can read it at the coffee shop.”  It truly doesn’t make sense in terms of streamlining access.  Why, once you buy an eBook, from any provider, can you not read it anywhere through anything?

With all of these injustices, we are left to wonder where this is all going.  Because as much as I love books, and support libraries with every fiber of my being, I understand that the world of literature is changing.  (I myself, as a school librarian, am always debating if I should buy print books or eBooks for the school’s Kindles.)  So, what will happen when printed materials are extinct and everything has turned electronic.  Will libraries continue to be financially discouraged by these ePublishers?  How will libraries rise above this and fight for their equal rights to books, in any form?

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1 Comment

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One response to “eBooks: The Sneaky Threat to Libraries

  1. Tarun Spake

    I’m going to this lecture tonight. Interesting thoughts…

    http://www.memphis.edu/mediaroom/releases/oct13/darnton.htm

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