Sunday, June 30, 2013

Libraries, ebooks and Book Publishers

Aren't You a Little Embarrassed?
This is almost comical, really.
a. Big publishers charge libraries a much, much higher price for a single copy of an ebook.
b. Libraries deploy Overdrive.
c. Overdrive only really uses the big publishers.
d. The big publishers have high barriers to entry for authors/content.
e. Libraries complain about access to content.
You can "yabit" all you would like: now you are the Big 3 per the first entry on this blog. Meanwhile, is just distributing all around you, and if you don't watch it, amazon could relax the Kindle lending program, and then what will you say?  

The Real Problem? Point C: Overdrive
Using Overdrive is like sleeping with the enemy. Hasn't the book publishing/distribution industry learned anything? The oligopoly is being challenged at every turn by amazon, which has capital to exploit every inefficiency. Let's be clear: Overdrive uses the big publishers, the very same ones that are charging libraries many times more than it charges consumers on That consumer can now lend that copy to a friend for free using Amazon Prime. The barrier for establishing "Jae's Public Library" on Almost none. Libraries will need to challenge Overdrive on this practice and right now. Otherwise, you will have empowered the big publishing houses, not challenged them. Any little leverage libraries have remaining? Dust.

ALA Isn't Innocent
Read the annual letter from the ALA president, which sets the priority of ebooks and libraries on negotiating with the Big 6 publishers. THIS IS A DOOMED STRATEGY. Libraries do not have the requisite LEVERAGE to exert influence on the "negotiation." So, library systems are purporting to offer ebooks via Overdrive, and around we go again, in the profoundly irrational manner that currently exists.

At Least SOMEONE Gets It
If you think that I am just criticizing for fun, you're wrong. I am writing this because I would rather see libraries survive. At least Douglas County CO understands the depth of the issue, and doing something. Read this article. Mr LaRue is right: libraries are getting the short end of the stick by all its suppliers. Look at the list a-e. Book publishers, and Overdrive combine to make the availability of content to your patrons difficult. I can tell you that it is almost impossible to offer my top-selling book on Medicare via Overdrive. There is almost no defensible reason for this.
Baker and Taylor Axis360, however is different: Smashwords can supply to Axis360 if the author chooses, and a library can use Baker and Taylor's platform to order a Smashwords' produced ebook. Here is an example: my book is offered here via Axis360 at the Eastern Monore Public Library.

Book Publishers Are Doing What Oligopolists Do
Just understand the phrase, "Where you stand depends on where you sit," a phrase I read as a youth in Graham T. Allison's Essence of Decision (awesome book). Libraries will need simple market forces to bring prices lower; DCL and Axis360 or similar platform are the way forward. Now the challenge is getting the right information into hands of the libraries so they know about books. Library Journal, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, New York Times Book Review, right?
LOL: there is another list like the one in the first paragraph, but that is for the next post.

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