The Douglas County Library ebook price comparisons for February have been released (PDF file). This month’s are based on the Top 25 USA Today Bestselling Books. Of 25 titles, all 25 are available as library ebooks from OverDrive, and 24 are available through 3M. So availability is not the issue, but cost remains the big concern. While most print books are available to libraries at a bit less than the discounted consumer cost at Amazon, these ebooks average six times the Amazon consumer price. This 6-to-1 ratio is similar to ratios seen in recent months.
This means fewer titles are available to our readers and fewer copies of the most popular titles will be available to meet demand.
As the buzz continues around ebooks, the consumer market has gone flat in terms of ebook sales. The incredible growth on the retail side in the last several years has now plateaued, but there is plenty of room for growth in the library market if better pricing options become available. Better pricing for libraries includes more options: options for perpetual licensing, options for short-term multiple uses (book clubs, summer reading, classroom reading), and options for multiple copies of extreme bestsellers.
A major theme at the Digital Content Working Group meeting at the recent ALA Midwinter Meeting was “keep the options coming.” Libraries need to be able to choose the best licensing option for their individual circumstances.