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Hachette Joins the "I Hate Libraries" Club – Now Raising eBook prices Through the Roof

It’s been some 6 months since the last time the major publishers issued an assault on library ebooks, and today fired another salvo.

Overdrive sent out an email today to their library partners with the sad news that Hachette was raising the wholesale price of ebooks. While this increase won’t be as bad as the one Random House handed out earlier this year, but it’s still going to be painful:

Dear Library Partner,

Hachette will be raising its eBook prices on October 1, 2012 on their currently available eBook catalog (~3,500 eBook titles with release dates of April 2010 and earlier). On average prices will increase 220%.

Orders for Hachette eBook titles at current pricing must be submitted in Content Reserve by 11:59 pm US Eastern Time on Sunday, September 30, 2012. This includes any orders that are currently in your Content Reserve work queue as well as new orders created during the remainder of the month. Any orders with Hachette eBook content left in your work queue and submitted after September 30th will be processed under the new pricing.

Effective October 1, 2012, the new prices will be reflected in Content Reserve.


OverDrive Collection Development Team

Hachette used to be one of the bright lights in library ebooks because they charged the regular retail price for their ebooks. And even though they wouldn’t sell their front list titles to libraries, at least we knew the titles would eventually be available. Only now those titles will be terribly expensive.

So the current state of the library ebook market is this:

  • 2 major publishers which charge high prices (Hachette, Random House)
  • 2 major publishers which won’t sell at all (Macmillan, Simon & Schuster)
  • Penguin, which is only selling ebooks to ibraries grudgingly and with support for the Kindle explicitly blocked
  • HarperCollins, which imposed a 26 checkout limit for library ebooks

And of course there are the many other publishers who sell ebooks and other digital content to libraries. Those 6  titans are not the whole of the ebook market, and it’s important to keep that fact in mind. And thanks to their non-presence in the library ebook market, they’re not even a majority of that market.


image by (vincent desjardins)

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Maria (BearMountainBooks) September 13, 2012 um 6:27 pm

I wish they’d come up with a compromise. I didn’t even mind the 26 checkouts–although I thought they could have been FAR more successful and more generous with the checkouts. Think about it–if libraries were enthused about it, they might keep the revolving door open and continue to "buy" the books. How about two years (regardless of the check out period?) But make it 10 dollars a book, not 50. I get that publishers see little advantage to getting paid once and having the book circulate forever, but geez. There’s a LOT of room between "won’t do it at all" and "priced so high no one will bother."

fjtorres September 13, 2012 um 7:17 pm

The libraries' refusal/disinterest to buy from smaller publishers and self-publishers sets them up for this kind of abuse.
When they change their buying practices, they might have some leverage with the BPHs.

Richard Adin September 14, 2012 um 6:26 am

Some libraries are expanding their indie author and small press ebook collections. Mark Coker at Smashwords has already made some announcements. But — libraries face a problem with self-publishers (as opposed to real small presses that publish several authors), that is, the quality issue. It is bad enough that children in schools are exposed to teachers who don’t know the difference between where and were, affect and effect, etc. To have libraries expose them to the same problems reinforces the decline in language skills, something few libraries want to do and libraries simply do not have the resources to check each book. They rely on traditional publishers having invested in editing, but too many self-publishers do not and there is no easy way to know.

David Taylor September 13, 2012 um 7:28 pm

This is a link to an article on the Onion, surely. It can’t be real.

Xyzzy September 14, 2012 um 3:13 am

In another year, just watch — they and Random House will be whining their butts off about reduced profits & increased piracy, blaming just about everything other than boneheaded moves like this one…

Steve Vernon September 14, 2012 um 5:26 am

Publisher #1 – Oh look. There’s a library – full of people reading.

Publisher #2 – Let’s go stick them up!

In a word – boo.

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