It seems as if a new chapter in the Big Six’s war with libraries has been written.

Beginning on October 1, libraries interested in acquiring backlist e-books from Hachette will have to pay approximately 220% more than they would today. Infodocket’s Gary Price seems to have been the reporter who broke the story late last week; he apparently obtained an explanatory email that was sent from OverDrive to a number of its library partners. (To read that email, see below.)

As for the acquisition of any new Hachette e-books, libraries remain out of luck: If a Hachette title was published after April 2010, you won’t see a digital version of it in any public library.

According to Paid Content, however, Hachette is currently working with two unnamed e-book distributors to test a pilot program that makes new e-books available to some libraries.

* * *

From Infodocket:

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


  1. Their blunder is our opportunity. If the proper distribution infrastructure comes into place, this is a marvelous opportunity for small publishers and independent authors to improve their situation. Visibility is the little guy’s chief problem. Quite a few authors might benefit from distributing their ebooks for free or at a low cost. Those categories include:

    1. The first in a fictional series. The Hunger Games is so teen girlish, I’d have never read it but for the fact that a highly discounted copy of the first in the series from Kobo got me motivated to read the rest. It’s a story you want to see through to the end even if I find that end rather muddled and quirky. (Hey, I’m not a teen girl.)

    2. A book you have to own to benefit from. I’ve got a guide to coping with hospitalization in progress that I’d like to see get some attention. My hunch is that getting digital versions for checkout in public libraries would motivate some to have a printed version to carry with them. Many high-content reference books are like that. See them and you want to own them.

    3. The ‘read others like this’ appeal. I’m doing three books about when I worked at major children’s hospital. One is so brief, I’d be ashamed to sell it. But it offers an excellent opportunity to get readers interested in the other two.

    4. Business publicity. If you’ve got a website selling something, say knitting materials, there’s no better way to draw attention to it than perhaps creating a free “Beginners Guide to Knitting.” Just make sure it is good. There’s enough junk out there.

    Like I said, let these giant publishers behave like fools. We don’t have to act like them.

  2. I’m wondering if anyone has studied the cost effectiveness of libraries simply buying inexpensive eReaders, setting up regular “person” accounts, buying the books at 100% retail or less and then lending the device. Library patrons might even be willing to lubricate this loan process with collateral of some sort. Patron surrenders her Kindle as collateral and gets it back when the Library’s device is returned.
    Or is the 220% calculated to be the tipping point where this kind of scheme is not cost-effective?

  3. @Frank – That’s an interesting idea, although I’m not sure if there are any municipal regulations in place at various library systems that would disallow this sort of thing — aside from the ADA-compatibility issue, which Fbone pointed out. Of course, more and more public libraries have started lending e-readers (they’re usually loaded with a certain number of books from a particular genre), but I don’t know if there are any usual or unexpected loopholes a library has to jump though before instituting such a system. My I guess is that it would change from county to county, and and/or state to state. Any librarians out there who can shed some light on how this sort of thing usually works?

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