Hachette Book Group plans to raise the price of ebooks to the library market by 104 percent starting October 1, 2012, according to reports issued yesterday. ALA President Maureen Sullivan moved swiftly to respond by issuing a statement today denouncing the price increase:
“When Hachette announced it was stepping back into the library ebook market this past May with pilots that would bring a selection of its recent bestsellers to millions of library patrons, the ALA welcomed this news. Leaving our meeting with them, we were pleased that they recognized libraries as strong partners—as direct customers and marketers of their titles, as well as integral community institutions that must be supported as a fundamental cornerstone of literacy.
“After these tentative steps forward, we were stunned to learn that Hachette plans to more than triple its prices for ebook sales to libraries starting October 1. Now we must ask, ‘With friends like these…?’
“We are weary of faltering half steps and even more so of publishers that refuse to sell ebook titles to libraries at all. Today I have asked the ALA’s Digital Content & Libraries Working Group to develop more aggressive strategies and approaches for the nation’s library community to meet these challenges.
“Libraries must have the ability to purchase a wide range of digital content at a fair price so that all readers have full access to our world’s creative and cultural resources, especially the many millions who depend on libraries as their only source of reading material.”
Correction: Last week, we stated that the price of e-books will increase by 220 percent. As of September 20, 2012, the cost of Hachette e-books for libraries will increase on average by 104 percent, or 2.04 times the current price.