For September 2013, the Douglas County (Colo.) Libraries ebook price report takes a look at the ability of libraries to purchase ebook bestsellers on the New York Times list as of September 3, 2013. (See the full PDF-formatted report here.) Of the 15 titles in the first fiction list, OverDrive doesn’t carry nine and 3M doesn’t carry six. Of the remaining titles, OverDrive charges between $75 and $80 for seven of the titles; 3M sells five at the same price points. In no instance does an e-title available through a library distributor cost less than what a consumer would pay.
I quite understand that the prices are set by the publisher. I understand, too, that the distributors’ business model depends on pocketing more than half of the sale. What I don’t understand is why librarians go along with this model.
JAMES LARUE is executive director of Douglas County (Colo.) Libraries.