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Penguin abandons best customers: Libraries prevented from buying new e-books

So longPenguin Group’s decision announced yesterday — to deny libraries the ability to buy new releases in the e-book format — is an insult to libraries when we have been publishers’ most valuable customer for years. The simple fact is that libraries create readers.  Readers who borrow books (regardless of format) also buy books.   In fact, a recent study of library patrons indicates that 40% of regular library users’ end up purchasing a book previously borrowed from the library.

Readers come to the library to learn about e-readers and e-books.  We even have librarians going to Best Buy and other outlets to teach new e-reader customers how to download books.  We enable the e-book market.

Let me show you the money. We pay publishers more for e-books than print books.  Library spending on e-books has doubled or even tripled over the last year.   New York Public Library alone is spending 1 million dollars a year on e-books.  Publishers Weekly even reported that library users are publishers’ best customers.

While Amazon’s PrimeLending program is charging for e-book lending, we seek no financial reward.  We support free lending because the nation greatly benefits when access to information is available to any citizen, regardless of ability to pay.  We support free e-book lending because a good number of our users want the digital formats, and we strive to meet that need.

Hello, publishers, are you listening? We are good for your bottom line.  Are you shooting yourself in the foot by excluding libraries?

Carrie Russell
Director, OITP Program on Public Access to Information

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Corey Williams

Corey Williams is a former member of the Washington Office government relations team.

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