The sad truth about the cost of library ebooks

Ebooks have been a lifeline during the various stages of lockdown, quarantine and social distancing. Even those who prefer print books have found that ebooks offer a safer and more convenient alternative – and, in cases where bookstores and libraries have been shut down or limited, ebooks may indeed be the only option available to them.

Many local libraries have had to temporarily close, limit hours and get creative with ways to continue to serve their patrons (hello, curbside service!).Because of these changes, a lot of people have discovered their library’s ebook collections for the first time. They have also discovered borrowing ebooks means limited selections of titles, limited numbers of copies, and long waits for new and popular titles. It can also be difficult to access the format you want, especially if you have a preference for either ebooks or audiobooks. And depending on what services your library offers, you may not be able to access the book you want on the device you prefer to read or listen on.

If you are new to digital lending models, one of the first things you will probably think is that none of it makes any sense. These are digital copies, right? Then why are they limited to one copy at at time? Why is the library telling me that they can’t afford to buy more of the books that everybody seems to want to read?

If you want to understand some of the economics behind library purchasing and lending, I highly recommend this piece by a collection development librarian called Hold On, eBooks Cost HOW Much? The Inconvenient Truth About Library eCollections.The piece does a great job of laying out the information and costs associated with library ebooks, including some great charts that clearly show the problem in context. Included is a list of things you can do to help support public library ebook lending.It’s something to keep in mind as you borrow your next read.


Daily Links: Wattpad goes Freemium

I found a lot of goodies today!

Several interesting articles from the Digital Reader:wattpad

From Fortune: More on the Apple e-books litigation.

A couple fun links from Teleread:

And look at this: The Yotaphone 2 is a dual screen phone with epaper and amoled screens, from The Ebook Reader.

From Publishers Weekly, In libraries, digital audiobook lending is finding its groove.

In Today’s Deals,  Amazon is offering a interesting bundle: Rosetta Stone software with the Kindle Fire HD 7. The language software is offered in eight different languages.

Daily Links are interesting links I discover as I go about my online day. The frequency and number of links posted depend upon the daily news.

News Bits and Bytes for February 9, 2012

Lots of news happening today:

Reports are saying that E-ink revenues are down for the month of January. A lot. However, downloads of digital media jumped in 2011. 

A big shake-up in the library lending world today. Penguin is terminating their agreement with Overdrive to supply library books. With Harper Collins still only offering libraries the crippleware 26 loan contract for books, Random House is essentially the only Big Six supplier of library books. If you pay attention to the subtext in the article about the meeting between publishers and the American Library Association, this should not come as too much of a surprise, unfortunately.

If you have been following the reaction to Amazon’s foray into the publishing world, the responses are still coming in. Today, Indie Commerce joins Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and Indigo in boycotting Amazon titles. Interestingly, this article from Paid Content says they’re not – well not exactly, that is.

Mike Shatzkin has a very thoughtful take on the Amazon vs Barnes & Noble saga that I highly recommend reading!

And finally, from  Evo Terra (Podiobooks) and Jeff Moriarty’s “It Isn’t Rocket Surgery” broadcast, a rather extreme point of view on the quality of self-published ebooks on Here’s the video:

News Bits and Bytes for November 3, 2011

There’s lots of news today on the Kindle and Nook fronts….

There is a lot of buzz today about the Kindle Lending Program.  None of the “Big Six” publishers are yet on board with what is rumored to be the start of Amazon’s “Netflix for books” lending program for books. This article from Paid Content fills in some of the details.

There is already a list of categories for the books in the lending library, and I predict that you will see lists of the books available soon.

There’s also  a thought-provoking article in Publisher’s Weekly that talks about Amazon’s program and how libraries may fit into the future of lending.

On the Nook front:

According to Engadget, The Nook Simple Touch price is being reduced to $99, effective November 16, 2011. And, B & N is pushing the fact that there are no ads!

B & N is also reducing the price of the original Nook Color to $199. In addition, they are adding apps for Hulu plus and more streaming music options for the device.

Engadget is also reporting that B & N’s new Nook Tablet (the successor to the Nook Color) will retail for $249. The tablet, which launches November 7, is touted as having everything the current Nook color has plus “the best in HD entertainment.” In-store demos start on November 15.

Kindle Lending Library Details

Amazon explains the Kindle Lending Library program in more detail on their help page for the lending program.

A few main points:

  • The program is only for Amazon Prime Members
  • The program is only open to U.S. Kindle and Fire owners
  • The books can only be read on devices, not the software apps. They cannot be read on an iPod or iPhone.
  • The device must be registered to the same account as your Prime membership
  • The program does not begin until Thursday, November 3, 2011.
  • You can only read one book per month with no “roll-overs.”

Reactions to Amazon Lending Announcement

Wednesday’s announcement by Amazon that they will finally allow library lending for the Kindle has caused quite a stir on many of the various ereader discussion boards.

Reactions to the news was both mixed and interesting.  Here’s a sampling from some of the forums:

The shock and disbelief crowd: “………..runs off to check the thermometer in HELL!!!!!!”
The cynical crowd:  “Welcome to the 21st century, Amazon!”
Great in 20 years when my library finally gets ebooks I will be all set. I wonder if my kindle will last that long….”
“Good. Now maybe those folks will stop complaining about it.”
“You need to sticky post this over in the Q & A forum as well where the “Why can’t I get library books while every other eReader can?!?!” complaint gets posted just about daily.”
The grateful crowd:  “I am SUPER excited… THANK YOU AMAZON for listening your consumers!”
“Inability to check out library books is the ONLY thing I dislike about my Kindle.”
“This is awesome news! Guess I will finally have to get a library card again.”
“Now my kindle will be perfect!”
“The now I’ll buy a Kindle” crowd:   Now I will buy a Kindle.”
 “I’ve been waiting for Amazon to do this before I’d buy a kindle. Guess I’ll probably be getting one now!”
The too late crowd:  “Oh, finally!!! If only I had known two months ago before I bought a Nook so I could borrow library books!”
The “I was going to buy a ____ so I could read library books” crowd:  Fill in the blank with Nook, Sony, Kobo, etc.
The wanting more and can’t make ’em happy crowds:
“Now if there was only a color version of the Kindle…”
“This is terrific!! Thank you so much 🙂 Please let there be text-to-speech on the library books too, please!”
“Great news. Hopefully the ability to lend your own books to friends more than once will follow.”
“Unfortunately this won’t help the fact that my library has a really poor collection of ebooks and that many major publishers won’t release their ebooks for libraries or severely limit them. But it is definitely a step forward.”
The altruistic crowd:
“Fantastic! Hey Mr. Bezos, one more idea from your customers: when I buy a book from you, after I’m done reading it can you work with Overdrive to figure out a way I can relinquish the e-book and donate it to a library of my choice? Library budgets are tight, and that would be a great way for you, and your customers, to help libraries keep up with technology.”
Concerned for other readers and the libraries crowd:
“Definitely not good news for the other readers – their one big advantage was library books.”
“I do hope it won’t add too much to library expenses. And it will take awhile before many libraries offer this. As it its my local library is not set up for lending to e-readers (I do know about other lending libraries). But I foresee Kindle getting the lion share of business (in the USA) once it happens. I know more people with Kindles than other e-readers.”
Librarians’ reactions to the news show more concern than excitement, as this article from the website  shows. You can follow the ongoing discussion on Twitter under the hashtag #AZOD.
So, what about you? How do you feel about the news?
This blog entry composed while listening to The 99 Darkest Pieces Of Classical Music.

Lendle Axed by Amazon

The Kindle lending service Lendle had its access to Amazon’s API shut off today.  Lendle has made a statement on the situation on their website, saying that:

The letter we received from Amazon states that the reason our API and Amazon Associates accounts have been revoked is that Lendle does not “serve the principal purpose of driving sales of products and services on the Amazon site.”

Lendle goes on to say:

We do know that we’re not the only eBook lending site who had their API access revoked today, so we can only speculate that it wasn’t anything about Lendle specifically that caused Amazon to act today, but rather something a bit bigger than us. We know publishers have been skittish about lending, and aren’t yet seeing how much value it brings them, so we might speculate Amazon was acting on pressure from them. [Emphasis added]

Personally, I don’t think that it is all that difficult to speculate what that pressure might be about. This is happening almost exactly a year since Macmillan boycott and the Agency Model went into effect. If, as I surmise, Amazon is once again in negotiations with publishers then lending and ebook rights are almost certainly on the agenda. That, coupled with the sudden rise of several services facilitating the loan of ebooks (with some even charging a fee for the service), does not bode well for readers’ rights in the future.

I also think that it is highly unlikely that it is a coincidence that this situation and the Harper Collins limit on libraries lending eBooks are happening at the same time. Harper Collins has been strangely silent on the library lending issue which may mean that it has some bearing on larger negotiations with retailers.

Watch this space; we are going to hear a lot more about these lending issues.

This blog entry composed while listening to American VI: Ain’t No Grave by Johnny Cash

Literati eReader on sale

LiteratiBed Bath and Beyond currently has the Sharper Image Literati eReader on sale. The device is on sale for $39.99 in stores and online. The reader originally sold for $199 when it first came out.

The Literati is an entry level, color ereader with WiFi. It reads ePub, Doc, PDF, and txt files and is connected to the Kobo online bookstore. It is also capable of borrowing library books using the Adobe Digital Editions software.

The reviews on this are varied, with particular complaints about the WiFi and book upload functions. You can see some of the reviews at Good eReader and  CNET.  Here’s an interesting video review from a recent purchaser who picked up one for $50.

I am extremely happy with my Kindle.  I don’t currently borrow ebooks because the local libraries in my area are not yet making ebooks available, so that has not been an issue.  I would, however, be interesting in trying both a color device and one capable of borrowing books. For this price, I took the plunge and just ordered one for myself.

Update for Feb. 7. 2011:  Bed, Bath and Beyond’s website is now showing this item as sold out.

I have posted a review of the device here on the blog.