PW reports that starting next month, Penguin Random House is changing its license terms for library ebooks from "insanely expensive" to "ridiculously expensive and short-lived".
As of October 1, 2018, PRH is moving from a perpetual access model (where libraries pay a higher price but retain access to the e-book forever) to a metered model (with lower prices on e-books that expire after two years). In a letter to library customers, PRH v-p Skip Dye said the change was made after listening to librarians' feedback.
“We have heard–loud and clear–that while libraries appreciate the concept of ‘perpetual access,’ the reality is that circs for many titles drop off dramatically six to eight months after the initial release. This is true especially for fiction bestsellers,” Dye wrote. “Most librarians are telling us they would rather pay lower prices across our frontlists and backlists, in exchange for a copy that expires after a given time period. In response to this feedback, we are happy to tell you that we will be lowering our prices on our entire catalogue of adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction titles. Under our new terms, e-books will expire after two years from original purchase date with the aligned pricing lowered for our e-books.”
After October 1, libraries' previously purchased ‘perpetual access’ e-books will remain permanently owned. In addition, PRH announced that the publisher will be creating a program exclusively for academic libraries, under which they will be able to purchase perpetual access copies, although at “a significantly higher price” than public library copies.
The change in terms will apply to all Penguin Random House U.S., Penguin Random House Canada, DK and DK Canada titles. Under the new pricing, frontlist adult titles in the U.S. will be priced up to $55 (currently, adult prices are capped at $65.); Young adult titles up to $45; and children’s titles up to $35. The changes do not apply to e-books distributed by Penguin Random House Publisher Services.
No one has posted the full letter yet; if you saw it, can you please send me a copy?
With first Macmillan and now Penguin Random House drastically changing the terms they license ebooks to libraries, 2018 is becoming the year that libraries got screwed by publishers.
And what's even more insulting is that PRH had the gall to claim that libraries actually wanted to pay $55 for an ebook that expired in two years.
But to claim that libraries want to spend their limited funds on $55 ebooks that expire after two years is next-level bullshit.