Aftermath of Random House Announcement
When I wrote my last post, I was furious about Random House’s new pricing model. I took the weekend to ponder the situation and see if my first feelings were valid. I’ve come to the conclusion that my impulse to believe that Random House hates libraries probably isn’t true – at least not totally. I want so much to believe that RH just had no idea what they were doing – and several of their statements lead me to think this is true. But then I ask myself why in the world didn’t they come to those of us who’ve been in the field for many years and ask us for input. In a statement to Library Journal, Stuart Applebaum said “We are requesting data that libraries can share about their patrons’ borrowing patterns that over time will better enable us to establish mutually workable pricing levels that will best serve the overall e-book ecosystem,” No one that I know of has been asked for that information. Why wasn’t this background work done before March 1st? Why doesn’t RH now approach a group of librarians and invite them to get together and work out a solution? Again, Stuart Applebaum stated “Understandably, every library will have its own perspective on this topic, and we are prepared to listen, learn, and adapt as appropriate.” I think actions will speak louder than words here. ALA talks are great, don’t get me wrong – but it’s also important to talk with those of us who deal with ordering licenses from OverDrive, developing collections on a daily basis, and dealing with the frustrations of our patrons who wait months for popular titles as we watch our budgets dwindle.
In two weeks I’m speaking at a Michigan Library Association program on the topic of “Stretching our dollars when using OverDrive.” I am totally clueless about what I’m going to say in the face of this most recent publisher development. Let’s see – “Don’t purchase ebook licenses from Random House unless you have limitless funds” – or – “Just get one copy of the latest John Grisham novel, despite the fact that there are 80 holds on it.” What do we tell libraries in struggling communities? I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this topic over the past few days, and I still haven’t come up with an answer my audience will like. Perhaps there isn’t one right now.