Staff Picks: Books

Staff-recommended reading from the KPL catalog.

eBook Update Continued

Last week I wrote here about the evolving ebook market.

I shared that libraries were bracing for a price increase for ebooks from Random House publishers. Indeed the recent increases are double and triple the prices we had been paying. As an example, one recently released title had been $40 for the ebook version; it increased to $120 as of March 1. The print version, with the library discount, is a little over $20.

Basically, the new Random House prices for ebooks to ebook distributors, not directly to libraries are

  • Titles in print as new hardcovers: $65 - $85
  • Titles available for several months or timed to paperback release: $25 - $50
  • New children’s titles in print as hardcovers: $35 - $85
  • Older children’s titles and children’s paperbacks: $25 - $45

In spite of these hefty price increases, libraries welcome that Random House continues to offer titles in ebook format to libraries.

Again, as I wrote previously, Penguin Books are not available in ebook format to public libraries. They publish many bestsellers and we, like all libraries, regret we cannot provide them to our users.

Bottom line: please know we will continue to provide ebooks as they are available and affordable for public libraries. Some titles we cannot provide at all, due to publisher restrictions, others we may not be able to provide until several months after their initial release.

The market continues to evolve.



An Evolving eBook Market

Most libraries, including KPL, experienced a strong increase in the circulation of ebooks after the holidays. Obviously readers were a popular holiday gift. Ebook users have learned how to download books from OverDrive through our website and many have attended our training or Q & A sessions.

In addition to titles available through the OverDrive consortium, we purchase additional copies of popular titles available to KPL resident cardholders. However patrons often ask why a particular popular title isn’t available in ebook format.

All publishers will sell us print copies, but not necessarily ebook copies. Their policies and approach vary considerably:

  • Random House titles are available; they recently announced a price increase.
  • HarperCollins titles are available to public libraries but each title is limited to 26 uses. The library must then renew its license for that title.
  • Macmillan does not make its popular titles available; some scholarly titles are available to public libraries.
  • Penguin terminated its agreement to provide to public libraries in February. Those titles already in a library’s catalog are still available.
  • Simon & Schuster titles are not available.
  • Hachette backlist is available, not the frontlist of new, popular titles.
  • Scholastic titles are not available.
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt titles are available.

Bottom line: the availability of a popular title in ebook format through a public library depends upon the publisher. Ebook lending through public libraries is still evolving and the specifics change frequently. Be assured, however, that we continue to follow the market closely and purchase popular titles available to us. Even if we don’t have the title in ebook format, we will have it in print.



Last Week and This Week @ KPL

Last week we kicked off this year’s Reading Together with a discussion of the book and the issues it raises led by Dr. Karen Vocke, associate professor of English at WMU. Almost all attendees had read the book and we had a spirited discussion interspersed with Dr. Vocke’s experiences working with the migrant community and her literary insights.

This week we welcome the author Luis Alberto Urrea to Kalamazoo. He will speak Tuesday evening, 7:00, at Kalamazoo Central High School. There are many other community events through early April, all described on our website.

Last week we launched a new initiative: First Saturday @ KPL. We encourage families to make a visit to the library part of their regular routine and on the first Saturday of each month, we’ll entice children with storytimes, fun activities, and special guests. Families who visit during First Saturday @ KPL are eligible to win door prizes. We were thrilled with the turnout at this first one and look forward to it growing as we partner with other community organizations. The next one is Saturday, April 7, 2 pm – 4 pm.

This week we have family storytimes, toddler talk, baby talk, and reading with Bailey.

Last week was the Teen Filmmaker Festival; this week tweens and teens can take their cartooning skills to the next level with comic master Kenjji Jumanne-Marshall.

And for adults, in addition to Reading Together events this week, we’ll offer tax help and Ask a Lawyer. See our website for eligibility for these two programs.

Come visit soon, either to attend a program or to find something good to read, view, or listen to.


Luis Alberto Urrea
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