Random House, Friend of Libraries ?
For months now we’ve been reading about the fact that of the “big six” publishing companies, Random House is the only one that has been friendly towards libraries borrowing books through Overdrive. As of today, I seriously question that notion. March 1 marks their price increase for e-book licenses purchased through Overdrive. I almost fell out of my chair this morning when I looked at the price of Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie. I purchased several licenses for this remarkable (and popular) biography recently and paid $35.00 per license – certainly more than the $14.99 advertised on Amazon for its Kindle edition, but within fair pricing limits. Today, this same license costs a whopping $105.00! The book was good, but not this good! This particular book was not an exception in the amount of price increase. All of the Random House titles shot up like this. The first thing that popped into my mind was that Random House must really hate libraries. Perhaps this isn’t true, but it will take a lot of convincing for me to believe otherwise. Do they not realize that libraries are hard hit by the economic downturn and that our budgets are shrinking. How do they think we can afford to build a decent collection of e-books when we’re spending over $100 per book? I am terribly disappointed by this latest turn of events. E-readers are flying off shelves as retailers like Barnes and Noble and Amazon advertise the availability of borrowing free e-books from local libraries. When the free supply dries up due to these exorbitant pricing practices, owners of these devices will be forced to purchase their books directly from these same retailers or stop using their devices. I don’t want to see some conspiracy working here, but the thought has entered my mind!
Until libraries can come together and have a united and effective voice, we are at the mercy of publishing companies. Meetings between representatives from ALA and the publishers don’t seem to have made much of a difference. This is just a pathetic state of affairs and I remain frustrated and a bit disillusioned after being a librarian for twenty-six years.