Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Saturday, March 03, 2012
Random House Raises eBook Wholesale Prices Significantly
Random House announced their library ebook
pricing, effective as of March 1, which will dampen some of the enthusiasm for
the house's commitment to the "unrestricted and perpetual availability of
our complete frontlist and backlist of Random House, Inc." in ebook form.
The new prices, which librarians tell The Digital Shift represent up to a
tripling, are calibrated to "bring our titles in price-point symmetry with
our Books on Tape audio book downloads for library lending. These long have
carried a considerably higher purchase price point than our digital audio books
purchased for individual consumption." The new price structure for library
New hardcovers, "for the most
part" are $65 to $85.
Titles available for several months, or generally timed to paperback release,
move to a range of $25 to $50.
New children's hardcovers are $35 to $85.
Older children's titles and children's paperbacks are $25 to $45.
eBooks were already sold to wholesalers at
prices close to the print retail price. A library ebook sale of an expensive
hardcover like Robert Massie's Catherine the Great, for example, now wholesales
for $105--which is actually 10 times what Random House receives for the
individual consumer sale of the same ebook, agency-priced at $14.99, and
yielding them $10.50. A lower-priced harcover, like Anne Rice's THE WOLF GIFT,
yields a library ebook wholesale receipt that is more like 8.5 times the yield
of a single consumer ebook sale.
Random House says their "new library
e-pricing reflects the high value placed on perpetuity of lending and
simultaneity of availability for our titles. Understandably, every library will
have its own perspective on this topic, and we are prepared to listen, learn,
and adapt as appropriate." They say elsewhere, "We believe that
pricing to libraries must account for the higher value of this institutional
model, which permits e-books to be repeatedly circulated without limitation.
The library e-book and the lending privileges it allows enables many more
readers to enjoy that copy than a typical consumer copy. Therefore, Random
House believes it has greater value, and should be priced accordingly."
Significantly, the first paragraph of their
statement is a request for better data about library ebook lending: "We
are requesting data that libraries can share about their patrons' borrowing
patterns that over time will better enable us to establish mutually workable
pricing levels that will best serve the overall e-book ecosystem." For
now, the company says it has "far less definitive, encompassing
circulation data than the sell-through information we use to determine our
retail pricing for e-titles." The full memo is reproduced at The