HarperCollins respond to pissed off librarians

HC posted this open letter yesterday. it was signed by Josh Marwell, the Presidnet of Sales at HC.I'm going to post this as is. I've already read it, and while I could deconstruct the lies, half-truths, and marketing BS, I would be so angry at the end that I do not think it would be a constructive activity.But I will leave you with this unsettling thought. How long do you think it will be before some one pulls this shit with retail ebooks? I'd say 6 months to a year.From the letter:

Over the last few days we at HarperCollins have been listening to the discussion about changes to our e-book policy. HarperCollins is committed to libraries and recognizes that they are a crucial part of our local communities. We count on librarians reading our books and spreading the word about our authors' good works. Our goal is to continue to sell e-books to libraries, while balancing the challenges and opportunities that the growth of e-books presents to all who are actively engaged in buying, selling, lending, promoting, writing and publishing books.

We are striving to find the best model for all parties. Guiding our decisions is our goal to make sure that all of our sales channels, in both print and digital formats, remain viable, not just today but in the future. Ensuring broad distribution through booksellers and libraries provides the greatest choice for readers and the greatest opportunity for authors’ books to be discovered.

Our prior e-book policy for libraries dates back almost 10 years to a time when the number of ereaders was too small to measure. It is projected that the installed base of e-reading devices domestically will reach nearly 40 million this year. We have serious concerns that our previous e-book policy, selling e-books to libraries in perpetuity, if left unchanged, would undermine the emerging e-book eco-system, hurt the growing e-book channel, place additional pressure on physical bookstores, and in the end lead to a decrease in book sales and royalties paid to authors. We are looking to balance the mission and needs of libraries and their patrons with those of authors and booksellers, so that the library channel can thrive alongside the growing e-book retail channel.

We spent many months examining the issues before making this change. We talked to agents and distributors, had discussions with librarians, and participated in the Library Journal e-book Summit and other conferences. Twenty-six circulations can provide a year of availability for titles with the highest demand, and much longer for other titles and core backlist. If a library decides to repurchase an e-book later in the book’s life, the price will be significantly lower as it will be pegged to a paperback price point. Our hope is to make the cost per circulation for e-books less than that of the corresponding physical book. In fact, the digital list price is generally 20% lower than the print version, and sold to distributors at a discount.

We invite libraries and library distributors to partner with us as we move forward with these new policies. We look forward to ongoing discussions about changes in this space and will continue to look to collaborate on mutually beneficial opportunities.

To continue the discussion please email [email protected]


Josh Marwell
President of Sales

About Nate Hoffelder (10619 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

2 Comments on HarperCollins respond to pissed off librarians

  1. “If a library decides to repurchase an e-book later in the book’s life, the price will be significantly lower as it will be pegged to a paperback price point.”

    I’m waiting to see this happen with any of the Agency 6.

  2. I don’t think this library model will ever be extended to retail ebooks. That’s a very, very unlikely scenario.

    As an eBook reader myself, I prefer to buy the ebooks, and find HarperCollins’ statement rather fair! It doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to foresee a future where eBook piracy will spread like wildfire (currently, I almost solely download music for free), and I worry about the sustainability of not just retail stores, but the livelihood of authors themselves.

    I think this conversation should always be present when we discuss the ire of the librarians and library users in response to publishers and their eBook policies. Librarians/libraries come from a tradition of making books freely accessible, which is AWESOME, but when books are freely accessible from one’s HOME, it threatens the livelihood of an entire industry. Precisely because even I would find myself never supporting the creative geniuses behind the stories that shape my knowledge and entertainment!

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