marioncountylibraryTime to do the pricing shuffle again. American Libraries reports that Penguin Random House has changed up the terms of its e-book library purchase program. Random House titles had been available for perpetual checkout at a cost of $85 per available copy, whereas Penguin titles had cost the retail cover price but were only available for a single year. Now both houses’ books are licensed for perpetual checkout at a maximum price of $65 per copy.

This represents a slight improvement for Random House books, but librarians might just go into sticker-shock at the new Penguin pricing. Nonetheless, it does eliminate the need to revisit whether to repurchase Penguin titles at the end of the year, and could save them money in the longer term on popular titles, so at least that’s something. American Libraries notes that these terms are similar to Hachette’s, which means two of the Big Five now offer perpetual pricing.

It’s interesting to note that this pricing makes HarperCollins’s 26-loan limit look a trifle more reasonable, at least for lesser-circulating titles. American Libraries thinks it would be better if publishers offered a choice between paying more for perpetual pricing and paying less for a set number of circulations, so that librarians could both build a collection and meet current popular demand.

American Libraries also hosts a PDF chart listing the terms for library purchase and lending of e-books and audio from each Big Five publisher.


  1. I still can’t understand why the major publishers don’t make their books—or at least the backlist ones—available for a per checkout fee and offer every title to every library. Under the purchase plan, however done, they only earn if an ebook is purchased and most aren’t. Under a per-check-out charge, they earn for every checkout of every title. And if 10 people check that book out at the same time, that’s ten fees.

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