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Just How Much Do the Big 6 Hate Library eBooks?

Every time I write about library ebooks lately the news seems to be bad. If one major publisher isn’t raising prices then another is cutting back on the number of titles offered.

But in spite of the litany of bad news, it wasn’t until I saw a particular PDF yesterday that I was reminded just how limited the selection of fiction ebooks really were.

I came across a PDF yesterday which I would like to share with you. It was put together by someone with Douglas County Libraries, and it shows just how many ebooks which the library cannot buy.

They took the latest USA Today Best Seller List and then looked up the prices. All 25 titles are available in paper, of course, and you can also buy them from most any decent ebookstore (Nook and Kindle were checked for price). But if a library wants to buy these popular ebooks, they’re out of luck.

Only six of the 25 titles on this list can be bought as library ebooks.


What’s even worse is that they are all selling at ridiculous prices, and 3 of the 6 titles are the 50 Shades trilogy. I doubt that they will appeal to most readers. So really there are only 3 ebooks from the USA Today Best Seller list in US libraries.

Yeah, I don’t think the major publishers like libraries much, in spite of claims to the contrary.


image by brownpau

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Candace LeDuc November 1, 2012 um 5:22 pm

This is what we’re doing about it…

Thomas November 2, 2012 um 12:16 am

When I first got my tablet, I though I might be using it for library e-books. When I checked, though, my local library system seemed to have more audiobooks available through Overdrive than actual books. I couldn’t find a single thing I cared to read there.

Dan November 2, 2012 um 1:02 pm

I think it depends a lot on what you like to read. I find more than enough to read through my library e-books, although I still do buy some items they don’t have that I want to read. The thing I do find annoying is when they have the 2nd or 3rd book of a trilogy available, but not the first and it’s a new author to me that I would like to check out.

Nicholas Schiller November 2, 2012 um 11:13 am

Good data on an important issue. Thanks.

I do have a beef w/ the post, however. 50 Shades of Gray is extremely popular among the most loyal library demographics. What good does it do library public services to send the message that they are a niche and as such don’t count? The data don’t lie and more people read those books than just about anything else right now. Does it help libraries to clearly imply that these readers don’t matter?

If we alienate our most loyal readers, it won’t matter who wins the ebook wars. Libraries will lose anyway.

Nate Hoffelder November 2, 2012 um 12:32 pm

To be more accurate, the 50 shades books appeal to some in that group while having virtually zero appeal to those outside the group.

BTW, that trilogy does rate highly in OverDrive’s lists – higher in fact than they rate on the USA Today list. But that raises a question: are those titles currently popular downloads because they are popular or because they don’t have much competition among library ebooks?

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