Starting next week, libraries will have the full Hachette book catalogue at their disposal in ebook form. The book publisher joins Simon and Schuster and Penguin in granting libraries the right to loan newly released ebooks. Amaerican Library Association President Maureen Sullivan praised the move saying it “recognizes the critical role that libraries play in bringing authors and readers together in the digital age.” Publishers Weekly reports Hachette made the decision based on their goal to provide “the broadest possible access to authors’ work in a manner that will benefit readers, libraries, and authors.”
In a recent New York Times op-ed, author Scott Turow questioned the motives of libraries and other book industry players, writing: “It seems almost every player — publishers, search engines, libraries, pirates and even some scholars — is vying for position at authors’ expense.” Sullivan fired back, “there is nothing nefarious in our goal to offer e-books to local library cardholders; rather, it is an extension of our desire to connect authors and readers regardless of format.”
Publishers Weekly explained the financials as follows:
For Hachette, new e-books will be released simultaneously with print, and available for an unlimited number of circulations (one copy per user) at roughly “three times the primary physical book price.” One year after publication, the purchase price will drop by roughly half. A Hachette spokesperson said the company will review its library pricing model annually, and will continue ongoing discussions with stakeholders “such as the American Library Association.”
Writers will need to stay on top of this to ensure they’re getting the appropriate cut from the library loans.