Mine used to use Hoopla, which allowed 10 free ebooks, audiobooks, or movies per month. Then it started to get expensive for the library, because more people started subscribing. After a year, the monthly maximum had decreased to 2 items per month. Earlier this year, they stopped using the service.
“Rarely have I seen city or county meetings discuss “Number of cars with a ‘Friends of the Library’ bumper sticker on it” as a metric for funding.”
As a matter of funding? No, of course not. But it’s perception. Trust me, perception is huge.
I’ve never worked at a library, so I don’t know the full details, but I’m guessing that each digital copy of a book that a library has to “loan” is one they actually had to purchase.
So yeah, artificial scarcity, and publishers/authors wanting to get paid means a limit on available “copies” of something that could be so easily copied.
What gets me is the way that ebooks tend to cost as much as physical copies of the books. The production and distribution of ebooks is far easier than the path a physical book need to take to end up on a shelf.
I tell myself a story that the publishing companies are using the money they make on ebooks to defray the cost of print books so that print books are still available, but I think that’s likely a lie. I bet the real reason is, “Because we can.”
Very few things are priced based on what they actually cost to produce. Digital media costs what it does because that’s what enough people are willing to pay for it.
I recently bought a book on Amazon when I couldn’t get it immediately from a library so there’s one data point. I agree it’s arbitrary but I get why it has to be so.
I do that, when I just can not wait. Third book in a series I’m loving was $2.99 rather than 14 weeks to wait.
What’s really going to get you is that library licenses for digital books are considerable more expensive than physical books/civilian ebooks and typically expire after a predetermined period of time or a certain number of loans.
A book released this week, My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing is $55 for an ebook that expires after two years. The hardcover? $17.10. Civilian ebook? $12.99. The license for Tiamat’s Wrath by James S.A. Corey never expires but costs $90. The hardcover? $19.49. Civilian ebook? $14.99.
These kinds of prices severely limits the number of ebooks libraries can buy which is one of the reasons why holds lists are often so long.
I’d like to see publishers offer a hybrid license with a pay-per-use model for the first few months for new releases, followed by one-copy-one-user model after demand has died down. That would allow libraries to meet the demand for new, hot books, and I suspect publishers would make more in the long run.
Not saying you should use it for such, but Hoopla’s comics reader is quite good. (Although I’m not familiar with many competing systems to compare, admittedly.)
One thing I do wish Overdrive/Libby did better (or even at all) is automatically search across all the library networks you have access to. It can be a pain (especially on mobile) to repeat the same search over and over, particularly when you’ve turned on a number of filters.
Fun fact about Libby is that you can of course add more library cards into it. As some libraries out there are now allowing online ecard applications, this ostensibly expands the possibilities for what you can access through this service.
You’re right. That gets me. Boy, capitalism sure works.
I use Overdrive. I think it’s fabulous. I live in Greece at the moment but I still have my Finnish library card and borrow e-books from the Finnish library catalog. It’s so good having easy access to books. I’ve read a bunch of random sci-fi in the last year since I usually don’t want to wait for the popular titles on hold.
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