The American Library Association is holding its annual conference later this week in Washington DC, and I know what all the librarians will be talking about.
Hachette announced on Monday that it is changing the terms under which it licenses ebooks to libraries. They will continue to be ruinously expensive, but now they are also going to come with expiration dates. PW reports that effective 1 July, Hachette will shift from perpetual access licenses to what they are calling the “two-year metered model”, ie ebooks with expiration dates.
A Hachette spokesperson told PW that most HBG titles will likely be priced under $65, and there will be no limit on the number of lends within that two-year period, on a one-copy/one-user basis.
The part that should really piss you off, folks, is that probably really is a lower price that Hachette charged under the old model.
And it certainly has the ALA ticked, although they would not put it so bluntly.
“The elimination of perpetual ownership will reduce long-term access to ebooks and digital audio books and increase challenges to the long-term preservation of our nation’s cultural heritage,” said ALA President Loida Garcia-Febo. “While the announcement includes some positive changes, the model will further limit affordable access to reading for 172 million U.S. library card holders.
Hachette is the third major trade publisher in the past year to change the terms it offers libraries. The first was Macmillan, which started windowing some library ebooks last July. It delayed licensing new releases from Tor Books to libraries for four months after release under the bogus claim that library ebooks were hampering consumer ebook sales.
And then in September, PRH changed the terms it offered to libraries. Its current license terms for library ebooks are similar to Hachette’s new terms; the ebooks are both expensive (up to $55), and expire after two years.