Having my novels in the public library is a mixed blessing, as I’ve mentioned before. I’m glad for the potential audience but the loss of sales is also a consideration. Publishers face the same dilemma, and the advent of eBooks poses a new twist. Traditional books wear out and need replacing but eBooks live in the stratosphere forever. For this reason, publishers sell their most popular titles to libraries at triple the book’s retail price. (“Libraries pay price for eBook ’friction,’” By Peter Korn, The Tribune, 11/8/2012 pg. A4)
The high cost of eBooks is giving librarians a headache because their patrons’ appetites for them are on the rise. Limited by tight budgets, officials worry that wealthy consumers won’t wait in long reserve lines for a popular eBook and will buy the work online, a trend that makes libraries nervous because they fear of losing their base of public support.
Publishers have been willing to make concessions to the libraries but at a price. The cost of eBooks could be reduced if the industry was allowed access to the reading habits of the patrons, an invasion of privacy which libraries have long resisted.
Hopefully, some accommodation will be found between publishers and libraries, and I understand both sides of the argument. Still, I can’t help bemoaning the huge role money plays in the creation and dissemination of art. Where are the de’ Medici’s when you need them?
(The de’ Medici’s courtesy of www.paradoxplace.com)