Thursday, April 25, 2024

Libraries have to pay an insulting premium to provide digital files


[Seattle Public Library's collection services manager] pointed to Brittney Spears’ 2023 memoir "The Woman In Me" as a prime example of the budget challenges that e-books pose. [SPL] paid the book’s publisher $17.81 for each physical copy it bought, a few dollars cheaper than what an individual would pay in a bookstore.

Electronic copies were a totally different story. The e-book and e-audiobook are about $17 for a consumer, but the library paid more than three times that price: $64.99 for an e-book and $59.99 for a digital audiobook.


That price tag is only the start of the story. Publishers largely don’t allow libraries to own digital books outright — they have to license them for a set period of time or a set number of checkouts.

In the case of "The Woman In Me," each copy is only rented to the library for two years, then they have to pay again to keep using it.