Hachette Book Group replaced its perpetual licensing model for libraries with a two-year ebook and digital audiobook lending model. Simon & Schuster eliminated perpetual licensing on digital audiobooks and replaced it with two-year licensing, announced per-circ pricing for select ebook titles, and made additional changes to its library ebook model. And audiobook provider Blackstone Publishing announced a new 90-day embargo on sales to libraries, leading to a boycott.
With multiple publishers announcing new and generally more restrictive and expensive licensing terms at the same time, rumors have circulated through the library field that what’s driving the moves is Amazon promoting the narrative that library ebook lending is partly responsible for declines in retail ebook sales.
Personally, I don’t believe any of the big five or Amazon that libraries have or ever have eaten away at the fabric of eBook sales like little book moths. I believe that these embargoes and sanctions (and subsequent boycotts in retaliation) are the product of a dying old school industry that is still full of dishonesty and greed. Amazon is multi-billion dollar company across the globe. THEY are likely the ones responsible for sales declines and, in this day and age of technology advancements, rightfully so. Why? Well, the big five refuse to come into the new age. They are clinging to an archaic limited print run model of business. They want to corner every possible angle of the industry like they used to for the bottom line – profit (sic greed?) and they don’t care who they step on to do it. They don’t care about the impoverished communities that rely on eBook lending from their local libraries, they don’t care about what they see as money pits like libraries, they only care about lining their pockets while pretending loudly that it’s all for their authors and their bottom line.
The fact that they thought eBooks was a fad that would die out in less than a decade and refused to invest their time, assets and attention to the digital age which caused them to miss out plays a roll in this whole mess.
It’s not about the people for the big five. They know they can’t compete anymore. They know they are a dying breed and with the Amazon KDP driven self publishing industry they will never be able to compete. The very fact that KDP puts more money into an authors hands and hybrid small publishing houses take less from the author (like us at Three Little Sisters) than the big five, which puts more money back into the authors hands but maintains the marketing as well as the professional services like editing and cover design, makes the big five obsolete. They know it and feel it too.
We no longer need to rely on Bower, the Library of Congress or “Big Publishers” to break into the market while the big five must rely on (prey on?) the current author roster among them and the Bower system of registering ISBNs, the Library of Congress and so forth. They have higher over head than a self publishing writer or smaller publishing houses. The fact that the American system forces people into (Bower) registering ISBNs for a whopping 500 USD per ISBN is a concept my Canadian mind can’t wrap itself around. Canada, ISBN is free, all the publishing house that uses Canadian ISBNs needs is at least 50% of the business is Canadian (yes, Three Little Sisters is half Canuk folks!!).
I absolutely don’t agree with the big five on limiting the eBook lending, I don’t agree that sales are tanking due to libraries. I do believe the big five are failing and floundering to hide that failure. I do believe they are trying to pass the failing buck onto the consumer and libraries. I do believe it’s purely greed and propaganda on their part. Don’t take my word for it though, check out the resources on the left and make your own conclusions. Then let me know what you think in the comments section.