From the Wire

The High Cost of Ebooks Has Libraries Struggling and Seeking Legal Action

You may have thought that libraries got some kind of discount when it comes to materials, but it’s actually the opposite. And, it’s a problem.

This month, The Associated Press reported on how not only are libraries not afforded discounts when it comes to digital materials like ebooks, they also pay more than individual consumers do. Where a consumer would pay $18 for an ebook, the library pays something like $55 to lease a digital copy — which expires either after a certain time or a certain number of checkouts.

With some relatively small libraries spending as much as $12,000 over the last few years on ebooks — which have become more popular nationwide since the onset of the pandemic — librarians across different states have been fighting for laws that will get the high cost and restrictions of ebook lending under control. In response, lawmakers in Massachusetts, Hawaii, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Illinois have put forth bills to help curb these high costs.

Of course, publishers are against these measures, and argue that the increased cost of ebooks and the limits around their lending make up for how many people would have bought them had the library not offered them. They maintain that, even with the increased cost, there is still money being saved overall.

They also oppose any lawmaking surrounding ebooks on the grounds that it would damage how intellectual property is handled, as well as publishing overall.

To read more, visit The Associated Press.

Find more news and stories of interest from the book world in Breaking in Books.