Penguin Random House Changes Library E-book Lending Terms

From Publishers Weekly:

In an August 30 letter to library customers, Penguin Random House announced that it is changing its terms for library e-book lending. But unlike Macmillan’s controversial decision to experiment with a four-month embargo on new Tor titles, PRH officials say their change is “good news.”

As of October 1, 2018, PRH is moving from a perpetual access model (where libraries pay a higher price but retain access to the e-book forever) to a metered model (with lower prices on e-books that expire after two years). In a letter to library customers, PRH v-p Skip Dye said the change was made after listening to librarians’ feedback.

“We have heard–loud and clear–that while libraries appreciate the concept of ‘perpetual access,’ the reality is that circs for many titles drop off dramatically six to eight months after the initial release. This is true especially for fiction bestsellers,” Dye wrote. “Most librarians are telling us they would rather pay lower prices across our frontlists and backlists, in exchange for a copy that expires after a given time period. In response to this feedback, we are happy to tell you that we will be lowering our prices on our entire catalogue of adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction titles. Under our new terms, e-books will expire after two years from original purchase date with the aligned pricing lowered for our e-books.”

After October 1, libraries’ previously purchased ‘perpetual access’ e-books will remain permanently owned. In addition, PRH announced that the publisher will be creating a program exclusively for academic libraries, under which they will be able to purchase perpetual access copies, although at “a significantly higher price” than public library copies.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

3 thoughts on “Penguin Random House Changes Library E-book Lending Terms”

  1. So, I guess this means my library’s ebook selection will gradually decrease over time. Which kinda sucks. I can understand them purging physical books that don’t get checked out because of space needs, but the beauty of ebooks is that you can have a virtually unlimited number of them and physical space isn’t a concern. Now I’ll never know if that ebook I want to borrow will still be there by the time I’ve finished the three or four books I have queued before it.

    • I’m wondering what costs this will now impose on libraries in keeping track of their “holdings” and in the effects it will have on interlinked catalogs, web sites, etc. I suppose the big beneficiary will be Overdrive, since they actually are the manager of many library’s e-book “holdings” and will be able to charge for the enhanced services necessary.

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