library-cardWe’ve been covering the e-book pricing issue facing our public libraries for some time. Well, in my area, the debate over library e-book pricing seems to be heating up. As The Star explains:

Last summer, four Canadian public libraries began pushing for change; since then, their group, Canadian Public Libraries for Fair Book Pricing, has grown to include 29 systems. Libraries say demand for their eBooks has grown 1,200 per cent since 2009, and meeting that is denting their budgets.

I’m pleased to see this issue picking up steam. It does seem fair to charge a library more than a single customer would pay. Multiple people will read that library book, and unlike a paper copy, it won’t wear out or suffer damage. At issue here is how much more though. Libraries do have a finite budget to spend on these things, and the drop of the Canadian dollar has influenced the market in Canada even more.

When HarperCollins first announced that they would expire library books after 26 loans, I thought that was an absurd proposition. But on reflection, I like that idea. It does account for the ‘e-books don’t get damaged’ argument by building in a ceiling on borrows which accomplishes the same effect. But it also would allow publishers to offer a reasonable price. I think an e-book which costs a lot more would be less appealing to libraries, even if it never did wear out.

(Chris Meadows also covered this story.)

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"I’m a journalist, a teacher and an e-book fiend. I work as a French teacher at a K-3 private school. I use drama, music, puppets, props and all manner of tech in my job, and I love it. I enjoy moving between all the classes and having a relationship with each child in the school. Kids are hilarious, and I enjoy watching them grow and learn. My current device of choice for reading is my Amazon Kindle Touch, but I have owned or used devices by Sony, Kobo, Aluratek and others. I also read on my tablet devices using the Kindle app, and I enjoy synching between them, so that I’m always up to date no matter where I am or what I have with me."


  1. I also initially thought the limited number of loans on library ebooks was ridiculous but I’m coming around to it making sense. I see my local library taking advantage of this by buying many many copies of new popular books — I recently saw a book with 86 copies that still had a waitlist 5 deep. I’m sure they will only keep 1-2 copies around once the initial demand is over. This lets a lot more people read the book at one time and the library isn’t stuck with 80+ excess copies to sell or donate after the first year.

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