Public libraries are calling for community help to bring down high ebook prices

Published On July 2, 2019 | By Trang Tran | Life

Readers have to wait for a long time to get their hands a digital copy of popular books. (Jorghex)

Trang Tran

Digital content is becoming a common choice for public library customers thanks to its preeminence compared to print. But it’s proving to be more expensive than the paper versions.

There can be a months-long wait for an e-book or an e-audiobook because libraries can’t afford the high prices multinational publishers are charging.

Many titles are unavailable in Canada. That means Canadian customers cannot get a copy of a number of best-selling titles.

“Multinational publishers need to work with libraries to develop a purchasing model that works for both sides,” said Myrna Scully Ashton, media spokesperson for Toronto Public Library.

“If pricing and access do not improve, public libraries will not be able to fulfill their core mandate of providing universal access to information to all,” she said.

“For example, a physical copy of A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay costs libraries $19.20, whereas a digital copy is three times more expensive at $65. Excessively high prices and restrictive purchasing models for eAudiobooks and eBooks limit libraries’ ability to purchase content our customers desire,” Ashton said.

Ashton said public libraries are dealing with a reallocation of budget and funding their physical collections at the same time, which “puts pressure on finite resources and is not sustainable.”

To fix this, Toronto libraries want people to reach out to multinational publishers and make all titles available. They’ve created the web page https://econtentforlibraries.org/ to inform the public.

The call to action for the eContent for Libraries campaign is to help public libraries to get a fair pricing model by raising an attention of publishers through sharing the page and use a hashtag #eContentForLibrary.

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