Moves by big publishers are making e-books harder to get for libraries

Moves by big publishers are making e-books harder to get for libraries
Updated: Aug. 21, 2019 at 4:31 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -E-books are a growing trend. In one month, the Pima County Library said there were more than 38,000 holds put on e-books and audio books. However, they said large publishing companies are making it harder for libraries to keep up with demand.

“I love all kinds of books,” said Frank Dipietrapaul, a library goer. “I love reading sci-fi and fantasy.”

He said normally, he reads those as e-books. The library said they’ve seen a 30 percent increase year-over-year in e-book check outs. However, there is a new problem.

“Macmillan publishers have in the last month have implemented an embargo on e-books, their newly released e-books,” said Michelle Simon, with the Pima County libraries.

Like physical books, there are only so many copies of e-books to go around. The big five publishers, The Hachette Group, Siman and Schuster, Macmillan, Penguin Random House and HarperCollins are changing the ways libraries can lend out their e-books.

Where the Crawdads Sing, a New York Times Best Seller published by Penguin Random House, has more than 600 holds on the 55 copies of the e-book through the Pima County Library.

“It’s going to be years before someone can get that e-book,” said Simon.

The library has had to pay $55 per copy of the e-book, versus about $15 on amazon. So, purchasing more would be a huge financial burden. Publishers are driving up the costs for libraries to buy these e-books for distribution, but they are also limiting the numbers of times an e-book can be checked out.

“We get 26 check outs, or 52 check outs, or only for a certain time period, and we have to purchase them again,” said Simon.

The Arizona Library Association isn’t pleased with the publishers’ decisions. They are sending letters to the publishers hoping they will stop the embargoes. Library users are not happy either.

“I genuinely think that is unacceptable,” said Dipietrapaul. “E-books are so much more accessible for people who maybe can’t make it to the library due to transportation things like that.”

The library is trying to figure out how to keep up with demand, and their budget.

“We may have to buy less e-books and more physical copies, or we may have to let the holds increase more until we buy more copies,” said Simon. “They’re just putting up barriers to provide that free and equitable access to material and knowledge that libraries are very famous for.”

The library is asking for help, and asks people to contact the publishers. The hashtag #eContentForLibraries is also going around to spread awareness of the issue. For more information, click HERE.

Copyright 2019 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.