September 13, 2012
Comparison of pBook and eBook Library and Consumer Pricing by Title Published
Douglas County (CO) Libraries has launched a price comparison report series. In The Visible Hand of the Market? (ALA e-Content Blog), Jamie Larue, director of the county library system and a member of ALA’s Digital Content & Libraries Working Group, explains that "this price-comparison report will focus on the titles available from the New York Times bestseller lists. On occasion, we might mix it up just to compare the prices of less popular titles." Here's the public library system's Pricing Comparison Report as of September 5, 2012.
In What’s a Library Dollar Worth? (PWxyz blog), Peter Brantley writes:
For libraries, the information is disheartening, although not surprising. For print books, library prices are generally on par (and often slightly cheaper) than consumer prices for the same book.
The digital picture, however, is entirely different. Great swaths of the spreadsheet are missing, illustrating the effect that publisher boycotts are having on the ability of libraries to provide access to their patrons. And, in those cases where ebooks are available, the report shows usurious markups, up to six times the consumer price for the same title.
[O]ne of the most interesting things that leaps out in the report is the constancy of pricing between 3M and Overdrive in the library market. Library pricing is nearly always identical. In the shadow of agency pricing and a Federal judge’s approval of a settlement between the Department of Justice and some of the defendant publishers, this kind of pricing synergy raises more questions than it otherwise might.
Kudos to Douglas County Libraries for releasing this pricing information and to ALA for helping disseminate it to institutional buyers.
Hello AALL, Got Guts? Government agency (including government law libraries and public academic law libraries) online search licenses are available by way of state and federal FOIA requirements you know (don't you?). (Also note the Douglas County (CO) Libraries policy on NDAs.) Plenty of useful data available for crunching numbers and releasing summary cost stats by a variety of categories on a regular basis. Oh, never mind ... probably too much "work." Considering the history of AALL Price Index screw-ups (see Another Useless AALL Price Index Has Been Published (LLB, July 21, 2012) and the links contained therein), there is also a question of administrative competency at the Association level.
Let's just dance around the issue instead of following ALA's leadership by way of that library association executing consumer advocacy tactics on behalf of institutional buyers and their patrons. Here's a question I know exists in the minds of many law librarians: ALA can (and does) but AALL can't (or won't) -- not reading the same statutory and regulatory requirements? [JH]