Click here for the Douglas County (Colo.) Libraries Ebook Report for May 2014.
Out of curiosity, I added up the price of every single title available to libraries from each source. That is, suppose you decide to buy every New York Times bestseller title available to your library from each of the vendors in the DCL report. Which affords you the best deal?
The worst deal is from OverDrive, at almost twice the cost for library print. The two best prices are for consumer ebooks. That’s right: Libraries still can’t buy a handful of titles in ebook format from either OverDrive or 3M. Adding insult to injury, we now have $90 library ebooks.
On the other hand, I suppose we still have a value proposition to offer our patrons. Yes, you can get the whole ebook list for less than half what a library pays—but that one purchase is probably still over five times what most households spend on libraries in a year.
Meanwhile, I’m noticing my own trend in reading. I’m finding new authors through the library, and when I like them, tend to buy them—at an average price of $4 per title. In other words, I am building a whole new system of discovery and purchase that has less and less to with the commercial mainstream. Am I alone?
JAMES LARUE is a writer, speaker, and consultant on the future of libraries. He can be reached at jlarue[at]jlarue.com.