Wednesday, March 2, 2011

HarperCollins's Open Letter to Librarians Shows That They Just Don't "Get It"

John Marwell's letter appears on Library Love Fest: "We spent many months examining the issues before making this change. We talked to agents and distributors, had discussions with librarians, and participated in the Library Journal e-book Summit and other conferences. Twenty-six circulations can provide a year of availability for titles with the highest demand, and much longer for other titles and core backlist. If a library decides to repurchase an e-book later in the book’s life, the price will be significantly lower as it will be pegged to a paperback price point. Our hope is to make the cost per circulation for e-books less than that of the corresponding physical book. In fact, the digital list price is generally 20% lower than the print version, and sold to distributors at a discount."

Will HarperCollins program print editions of books sold to libraries to spontaneously combust after 26 reads?

Another point: Setting aside the ridiculous notion of limiting usage on a sold edition of a book, the idea of digital prices being arbitrarily pegged 20% lower than hardcover or paper prices is equally absurd. In this way the cost of traditional print, paper and bind dictates the cost of e-editions? The tail wags the dog?