Libraries Boycott Random House Over E-Book Pricing

Libraries on Nova Scotia’s South Shore are boycotting Random House, one of the world’s largest book publishers, due to its e-book pricing demands. The publisher is charging as much as three times as much for downloadable book as for a print version.


  1. If the crooked publishers keep this up…
    They will invite government regulation.
    *rubs hands eeeeevily*
    Yes, regulation >:D

  2. Libraries usually do pay more, because hard cover books – which they usually need – are more expensive than paperback. The logic behind this (or some of the logic) is that if you can borrow book, you are less likely to buy it, and so to some extent there is an impact on sales. But, while most books (even hard cover) eventually fall apart and have to be replaced, e-books don’t, and can be lent endlessly. So there is then an impact both on how many copies a publisher can expect to sell to a library, as well as an impact on consumer sales. The library might have to pay more upfront, but it won’t have to buy new copies to replace damaged ones. Publishers have tried limiting the number of times an e-book can be lent. That didn’t work. So they are coming at it thrugh pricing. Either way, if they don’t get the financial return needed, they won’t publish the books. Difficult to see how that can be regulated.

  3. There are a number of parallels between the book publishing and music recording industries. Both are facing major technological shifts that put their industry in danger of becoming irrelevant, and both have been slow to adapt.
    In the past, music producers are responsible for moving product from the artist to the public which, in the past meant recording, editing, producing the media, shipping the physical product to distributors, and advertising – all very expensive endeavors. Reduction of the cost of recording and editing equipment, digital distribution, and social media have made it possible for artists to independently perform most, if not all, of these functions very effectively and at reduced costs relative to the recording industry. These titans have become superfluous.

    The book publishing giants have had more time because digital books have been slower to adopt. However, the popularity of ebooks is accelerating every year and these companies are beginning to face the same challenges as their correlates in the music industry. They must also adapt or become obsolete.

    E-books are produced and distributed at significantly lower cost than physical texts. Therefore there is no tangible reason for the increased cost of digital editions. They have justified their increased cost based on theoretical predictions of future revenue loss compared to the lifespan of their traditional physical product. Unfortunately, moves like this seem to indicate that Random House is attempting to hold on to its traditional business models and the public reaction to paying more for a lower cost product is predictable. Random House has learned nothing from the recording industry and these practices will paint them with the same negative public image.

    I believe that the future of book publishing will see these giants wilt or fall in the face of the rise of more and more smaller, independent, and sub-specialized publishing houses that are better able to adapt to the changing business climate.