The October 2013 Douglas County (Colo.) Libraries Report on ebook pricing for libraries suggests that things may be looking up for libraries. Of the top 25 ebook bestsellers from Digital Book World, only six are not available for libraries as ebooks. Two of the six are self-published books of an adult nature. (See the full PDF-formatted report here.)
Pricing has also become more predictable in the past few months. The Random House titles are quite obvious (with their price points up to $85), but many other publishers’ ebooks are being licensed much closer to print prices and are about 50% more than consumer ebook prices. Ebooks for consumers on this list are averaging around $9 each; libraries can expect to pay about $14 for a non–Random House title.
The real question, then, is whether or not it is worth paying six times the cost of a one-year license from other publishers to get “ownership” of a title from Random House. In some cases? Certainly. But not in every instance—which is why I wish there was more flexibility in the licensing options available to libraries. A one-year license for $X or a three-year option for $Y or a perpetual license for $Z.
But I have high hopes that we are moving forward into more positive relationships with publishers. So this flexibility might be a possibility soon.
See the October 2013 DCL report here (PDF file).