DCL Ebook Report for August 2014

Posted Tuesday, August 5, 2014 - 13:31
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Read the Douglas County (Colo.) Libraries Ebook Report as a PDF file.

As my colleagues at Douglas County (Colo.) Libraries have called to my attention, the DCL report has thus far mostly illuminated the difference between what libraries and consumers pay for ebooks. Alas, as this report again makes clear, that staggering inequity continues.

But now let’s look at what’s happening with print. Once, we could rely upon a 40%–45% discount on the consumer retail price.

One of the most powerful economic arguments on behalf of libraries is that we are, or were, a demonstrably effective cooperative purchasing agreement. Volume purchases deserve volume discounts. Of course, the purchasing power of Amazon now dwarfs that of even the Big Five publishers. Let me say that again: The gorilla in the room is not the Big Five. It is Amazon. Amazon’s presence and power is just as disruptive with print as it has been with ebooks.

So now, supply chains on both sides of the collection development spreadsheet—print and digital—seem dated and dim. For us, anyhow.

Vendors, it’s time to step up your game. If libraries can’t make the economic case for our business model, how can you?

JAMES LARUE  (jlarue[at]jlarue.com) writes, speaks, and consults about the future of libraries.