In the comments of my post, “How Not to Get Libraries to Lend Ebooks (A Publisher’s Tale)”, the highly esteemed Liz Burns wanted me to clarify something I said regarding “jacked up” prices concerning library editions. Here’s our exchange from the post.
Andy, what is your source that library editions are “jacked up” prices — which I take to mean that the profit margin on those books are more than other books. If you don’t mean that, please explain what you do. What do you think is an acceptable profit margin for publishers?
As I am not in a position of ordering materials (with an exception every now and again), my source is more anecdotal in that I heard about it from other people who are in such a position, what I have seen from invoices that are shown to me, or what I have read in various blogs over the last couple of years. It is certainly is not a survey of all pricing, and I’ll admit that my statement is based more in the emotion of the moment. But I don’t believe that makes it completely untrue (and I look forward to being proven otherwise).
My concern is less than with an “acceptable” profit margin of publishers and more of a concern about what value the libraries are getting for their money. As I suggested in the post, I’d like for publishers to start considering bundling ebook rights with their books (library edition or not); they could charge an additional premium on top of the physical book cost. I think it would be a win for the publisher, the library, and the patron. For certain, it would be an additional source of revenue that could be directly recouped for the publisher.
Andy, to be honest, it’s my understanding that there is a slim profit margin for most books. Also, I’m a bit puzzled by how much anti-publishers sentiment I’m seeing on some library blogs/tweets. When did they become investment bankers making billions?
Pricing can be more if cost is more, which is why my question is on profit. Better binding for library edition or ability to get free replacement CDs? That’s going to cost more than other books.
[…] For the record, I’m talking about print books, not library edition audio. The latter is higher because you are buying into a service that will replace discs. It is a premium that makes sense to me, for certain.
I had messaged Liz on Twitter to ask if I could use our exchange as the basis for a blog post. We ended up wondering a few things of our own, so we decided to toss these questions out to the blogosphere audience:
- Does anyone buy library edition of print books? Why or why not?
- Can anyone tell us where the anti-publisher sentiment has been coming from lately? (Links or articles would be a bonus!)
- And how is it that the publishing industry gets the ire of librarians when the television and movie industry get a relative pass when it comes to downloading, purchasing costs, and copyright permissions?
Come, take a swing at a question or two, and enlighten us.