I rely heavily on libraries to get the books that I read. They aren’t cheap here and the amount of books I’m able to read and review is heavily influenced by what’s made available through the library system. Toronto’s library is well-funded, so I couldn’t understand why there were so few digital copies of really popular books.
And now, after doing a little bit of research on it, I can understand why.
Basically, the international book publishers are throttling libraries by charging them more for digital copies than regular ones.
In theory, I can understand them charging a little bit more. Digital copies won’t break down or need to be replaced. They can’t be lost either and there’s probably going to be more people reading them within their lifetime.
However, the pricing for the digital copies can be two to three times higher than the regular price of a book. And for those of you who aren’t from here, books are expensive in Canada. Already the price of a book here can be two to three times more expensive than it would be in the United States.
Even when you take into consideration the currency differences, books are too expensive here. I break it down further in my post on 7 Ways to get Free Ebooks Legally.
Now take that already inflated book price and double or triple it again. That’s what Canadian libraries are paying for digital copies of books. It’s obscene.
It’s bad enough that the prices are jacked up for individual consumers, but to have our libraries, which are essential in the promotion of literacy for all children, being taken advantage of like this is disgusting.
I want to just go up to the publishers and shake them because online borrowing programs are what help drop piracy. If you get greedy, then people will turn to pirating rather than legal means. It’s convenience and availability that determine whether or not people are going to start pirating books, movies, and music.
We’re already seeing the beginnings of this on the streaming side. With so many new streaming services coming out and Disney desperately trying to jump on that bandwagon as well, piracy went up for the first time in years. And the reason for that is that publishers (of all media, not just books) are trying to wring every last dollar that they can out of their products.
And fine. That’s your right to do so. It’s not consumer friendly, but it’s your right.
But when it comes to library services, putting that added burden on libraries is just disgusting to me. Libraries are the great equalizers. It’s where people are able to get books regardless of their paycheque and by jacking up the price of digital copies, the publishers are sending a message that they’ve already sent with their Canadian pricing of books.
Whether they mean to or not, they’re saying reading isn’t for everyone. They’re screaming with their prices that books are not something that everyone can afford and enjoy.
And it makes me furious.
If you want to know more about the situation and what you can do to help Canadian libraries, go to eContentforlibraries.org to learn more.
And please contact the publishers, using the #eContentforlibraries. I doubt it’s only Canadian libraries that are facing this problem.