Simon & Schuster has just announced that it is both lengthening the license period for ebooks licensed to libraries, and also imposing a limit on audiobook licenses.
As of 1 August, S&S ebooks will be licensed to libraries for a two-year period. Previously, the ebooks were sold on one-year licenses. According to the announcement, most “new release” ebooks will be priced between $38.99 and $52.99.
At the same time, S&S will also be imposing a two-year term on audiobooks starting 1 August. S&S audiobooks had previously had a permanent license. The prices will reportedly range from $39.99 to $79.99.
"It is our intent that, by including titles from both digital formats in per-checkout programs, we are enabling libraries to continue to offer a broad selection of eBooks and eAudio to their patrons," S&S officials said in a statement.
In related news, Simon & Schuster also revealed they will make “a select number” of ebooks available on a "per-checkout basis," with prices ranging from 99 cents to $2.99. This is similar to the model offered by Hoopla.
In case you were wondering, the ALA is not pleased. “Libraries must have fair and equitable access to resources, regardless of format, that is predictable and sustainable,” said ALA president Wanda Brown in a statement. “In the months ahead, ALA will amplify its role in championing the valuable and essential role of libraries in the publishing ecosystem. For example, we are re-establishing the Digital Content Working Group to focus and bolster our efforts. Librarians across the country have increasing consternation about e-book access. The high prices and complexity across publishers are only growing.”
Simon & Schuster is the fourth 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. Then in September, PRH changed the terms it offered to libraries. Its current license terms for monopolistic; the ebooks are both expensive (up to $55), and expire after two years.
And then last month Hachette adopted license terms similar to Penguin's.