I’m sure you read this past week that Penguin Random House is discounting its library ebook prices, but did you notice that none of the coverage actually mentions how much they’re being discounted?
That detail was not mentioned in the announcement, and no one else seems to have followed up:
To further encourage book reading, especially among students, and to support school and public libraries that are closed with the escalating CV-19 outbreak, Penguin Random House will discount the prices of the e-book and audio book titles sold through wholesalers to these institutions.
This discounting begins immediately and will be in effect for a 90-day period.
“In this time of unprecedented disruption, Penguin Random House wants to continue and to expand our unwavering commitment to public and school libraries the best way we know how: by making our books more accessible for educators and students, especially those engaged in remote learning, and to library patrons everywhere,” said Skip Dye, Senior Vice President, Library Sales & Digital Strategy, Penguin Random House.
While that sounds nice, the fine print reveals that PRH’s new prices are nearly the same as before.
According to the ALA, under the old terms PRH offered libraries a two year license on ebooks where the maximum price for an adult-oriented title were $55 from $65, and YA and kids books cost $45 and $35, respectively.
On Wednesday the ALA revealed the details of the new terms.
For e-books, the company is now offering a one-year term for 50% of the price of the existing two-year term license. Additionally, libraries now may pay per circulation, at a price of 10% of the two-year term price. PRH has made the similar changes for its downloadable audiobooks.
The thing about multi-year software licenses is that you can often save 5% or more by paying for several years at once. If we turn that around we can see that, in charging half as much for a one-year license that PRH did for a two-year licence, they are giving libraries a discount of around 5%.
I don’t think that is really a 50% discount, do you?