Friday News: Libraries still being charged twice as much for digital lends; Carla Swafford suggests an new name for TBR; Repetitive titles good or bad?
A Year of Library/Consumer eBook Price Comparisons: Has Anything Changed? – Douglas County has been keeping track of how much they have to pay for a digital book to stock it in the library system. For nearly all books, Douglas County (and by extension all libraries) are paying 3 to 4 times consumer prices. Some titles aren’t even available for purchase. I wish publishers and libraries could come together. It’s good for business and even if it wasn’t, it is the right thing to do. Think of it as corporate charity! The Digital Reader
TBR Should Be TFB – We call it the To Bo Read pile but Carla Swafford says it should be the Tragically Forgotten Books pile. There is no question that I’ve bought books for years that I’ve never read. Too many to count. I’ve been buying a lot of these bundles too at 99c and I’ve seen these bundles hit the NYTimes list for sales but I have to tell you, I’ve not read even one bundle yet. Do these bundles go into your TBR pile or your TFB pile? carlaswafford
Titles. Repetitive titles – In my twitter feed I saw some promo posts for a book whose title used derivations of the words broken and beautiful. I knew I had heard those titles before along with bastardizations like Unbeautifully. I guess that’s the New Adult version of Reamde? Who knows. But I looked up on Amazon to see if there were other books using those same words and came up with this list. If you used only Beautiful or a derivation of Broken, you’d get dozens more. I think that this is probably not helpful to sales but maybe I’m wrong.
I’ll leave you with this video of Mary Lambert singing the full song that is sampled in Macklemore and Lewis’ pro gay marriage song, Same Love.
Fave authors mostly go to the top of the TBR pile displacing new-to-me authors and authors I’m debating breaking up with. I suppose there are parts of my TBR pile which are like Brigadoon and could qualify as TFB. Since I keep a list of my TBR books and wanted rereads in Word, they don’t totally disappear. And sometimes I deliberately fish a book out of that column. But many of them are books I got on sale or the blurb sounded good/I read a review and snapped them up just in case.
Last year I purged a bunch of the freebies and on-sale books I’d gotten and deleted them from Calibre. I read the first chapter of most and if they didn’t grab my insterest they went bye-bye. I try to be a bit more discerning now and not download every freebie/buy every 99c book that I see that might someday interest me. I’ve got enough books that qualify higher on my interest meter that I am not in danger of running out of things to read. I think reading digitally has turned me into an ever bigger book hoarder than I was, so I am trying to curb the impluse.
Because of the free Kindle reads, including the ones at .99 cents, I have 1500 books in my Kindle still TBR. I have a sad addiction.
Don’t tell publishers who already feel under siege to look at equitable prices for library e-books as corporate charity! That will only encourage them to dig their heels in and demand more $ or make them unavailable altogether. They are already crying over losing money.
Instead, tell them that not only is digital library lending good for business — some of those people will go out and buy the books, and it gets them exposed to them, with the possibility for word-of-mouth — but that ebooks are not as different from print as they seem to think in terms of appeal and piracy, that the public thinks of them as just being different delivery systems, and that they’re alienating potential customers by treating ebooks differently. One copy = one borrower and reasonable time limits on licenses (like a year) make sense and balance the interests of both parties. Making a title disappear once it’s been borrowed x number of times doesn’t.
Publishers don’t charge libraries more (that I know of) for print books than other customers. With limitations like those above, they have no excuse (other than fear, ignorance, and greed) for charging more for ebooks. In these days when publishers are suffering, WTF are they doing things that will drive people straight into the arms of small indy and self-publishers?
If logic won’t convince them (and I’m not sure it will), maybe studies will. It’s be nice to see academics in business, media studies and communications look into and try to quantify this.
There are library editions and library processing, with sturdier binding and other features either for the convenience of the library, or to make sure the books hold up to repeated lendings to many, many readers (some of whom might not treat books with particular care). Those editions can cost a whole lot more than the trade edition, or might be created by binders who buy just the guts (so to speak) of a book at low cost then bind in hardcover, or buy the cheapest edition, strip it, and rebind it and resell it to libraries.
On the other hand, libraries can opt to buy the trade edition for less cost instead (not possible with a digital book). Or they can, for example, opt to buy five paperback copies of a popular manga title so everyone gets a chance to read it at the same time in the format they prefer, rather than one copy of the same title in expensive library-bound hardcover that readers might not want to lug around anyway.
So there’s some logic in wanting to scale the price of a library eBook to its actual use, though it’s not the same logic as charging for sturdy binding. I’m intrigued by services that charge a minimal amount per loan, with the option of letting the library (or school) eventually purchase an eBook outright at a discounted or prorated price. Of course, these services want to make a profit and stay in business too, so it’s never about charity and the hope (based on whatever metrics are available) that charity will result in the additional sales needed to keep the company afloat.
In any case, I like the charge-per-loan model, especially if it starts off with libraries actually paying less to make a digital copy available, and only paying the full amount once it’s justified by heavy circulation.
tragically forgotten books
LOL! Yes, that’s the better term. I just moved and had to seriously downsize. Ended up sorting through the massive TBR pile (so massive I’d actually had to put a ban on buying physical books because I had no more room) and, guess what? An appalling amount of books I’d bought and then never looked at again went out. I still have a physical TBR pile, but it’s much, much smaller and had to be only those books that spoke to me then as I packed.
I never have more than five books in my TBR, because if I do, they seem to “go off” like raw chicken forgotten in the meat drawer. Once a book has moldered in the TBR for more than a few weeks, I’m unlikely to ever get around to reading it, even if I REALLY wanted to (I currently have two by authors who are autobuys that have gone bad and I feel quite guilty about them, but I just can’t seem to drum up the interest to crack them open).
Re: the massive TBR. I am like Isobel Carr @ comment 6. Anything more than 8-10 books in a stack and I lose interest fast.
There is a marvelous acronym in crafting circles–SABLE: Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy. In other words, you will never live long enough to knit, quilt (or read) what you already have on hand. You know you should whittle your stash–but what goes?? That’s the tough decision.
Thanks for the Mary Lambert video – just beautiful!
I confess: TFB immediately read as “too f*ing big” in my head. My head’s like that occasionally.
You know, my digital TBR would be much easier to manage if I could see the book description/back cover copy inside the book so I could remember why I bought it. I know some people don’t care because “Well, I bought it; I must have been interested.” But I’m not like that. I know I bought it but just because I have Lucky Charms in my cupboard and ribeye in my refrigerator doesn’t mean either of those things sound like it’d hit the spot right then.
I swear. Why don’t publishers look at a subscription model for ebooks to libraries? Bill 50cents a year or something for however long the library opts in to offer a book to their customers.
In that way, libraries pay for books actually in use, for as long as they are used. Books unread get deselected. Books read for 50 years are paid for access every single year (but at a low annual rate). Libraries can budget for that. And publishers get a RECURRING revenue stream.
If no one is checking out Author As book after 2 years and a cost of $1 then the library deselectes the title. Libraries can take a chance on Author A and offer their members new things with a low cost of entry. They can’t afford to do this if the initial cos is $20 If, however, Author A becomes the next JR Ward, well people will be checking out those title for 20 years or more. Bam! Publisher makes their $20 and it’s basically guaranteed income every *single year of that 20 years*.
Instead of nail-biting over the fact they don’t get re-purchases like for physical books when they wear out, they need to look at a new business model. A recurring revenue model would probably make them more money in the end, but make it affordable and (as importantly) manageable to the libraries.
Gah! Why is this so tough?
Darlynne, I thought the very same :)
@Moriah Jovan: Moriah, I add that via Calibre to each ebook I buy as soon as I import it into Calibre (otherwise I’d go mental) – if it’s been de-drmed that’s very easy to do, but admittedly might not be for people who want to keep the pristine formatting job if there was one.
With my eyes, I also enlarge the font-size to pt 13, then my eReader doesn’t have to upscale so much itself.
I decided to give Thea Harrison a try. Picked up the book from the library. It was summertime and that means it ended up with some water damage. If I’d walked into the store or gone to Amazon I would have paid 10 bucks (if not cheaper) for this book. Instead I ended up paying damn near 20 bucks for it.
In short, they need to stop charging libraries so much money for books. They are doing publishers and authors a service. They are doing something incredible for the community. Not only cultivating current readers who may not have the means to buy books, but future readers. My DD read over 50 books this summer and I may be low-balling that number because at some point I stopped counting. I will likely cough up some serious dough during Christmas so she doesn’t have to wait for the library to get their copies. (Also because she won’t touch e-books.) All of these authors she found through the library. So stop making it so damn difficult. /rant
@Estara Swanberg: Well, you know I have the wherewithal to do it any way I want to. It’s just so. much. work…
@Moriah Jovan: Maybe if you simply did it from now on? I wouldn’t want to start doing all my books nows either (I have 1000+ in all now), but when I got Calibre it already had that ability and I thought it made sense from the start.
@Carolyne – Thanks for the info. I knew that libraries get sturdier versions of some physical books and pay more for them; I’d just forgotten it. But as you point out, they still have the option of buying the same version as individual readers.
@Melissa – Why didn’t I think of that? A subscription model (which is close to what the “pay per year” model I was suggesting) would be ideal — simple and easily tailored to meet everyone’s needs and interest partway. Publishers are so hidebound; use the freaking iTunes model, FFS. It’s not like it hasn’t worked for music.
The reviewers at Fiction Vixen just had the “beautiful /broken” discussion yesterday. We had yet another NA title submitted for review where title contained one of these words and one of our reviewers pointed out how these words always seem to be in NA titles. There is a big virtual pile of “beautiful /broken” requests in our database.
I guess we shouldn’t complain. At least they’re not some shade of beautifully broken grey. :)
As a new author I never used to give a thought to whether or not I was using a popular title. I just chose them based on what the story was about. But “Recipe For Love’ turns out to be hugely popular, not just for romance, but for cookbooks also! Who knew? Now I google any title’s I pick, to be sure that I’m not going to be lost in the crowd looking for other authors. I know that might be good, if those other authors sell a lot of books, but then again, does “Secret Love” do well in sales because the title is over-used, or because it’s a good book? Who knows?
And anything with 50SOG or any derivative is asking for a lawsuit, IMHO.
@Barb in Maryland, SABLE is really appropriate! My late mother had collected enough fabrics and patterns to make entire wardrobes, though it was really funny to find stuff she’d cut out and never sewn for me when I was a kid! And she had enough yarn to go around the world a couple of times, though she was only an on-again, off-again, kind of knitter. I gave most of all of that away. I’m trying to keep things simpler in my life. As an English major and writer, about the only thing I do collect in abundance is books. But my parents had entire walls of books shelves full of those also! The local used book sales did a happy dance when I walked in with all of those boxes!
@Fiona McGier: Mom has been gone since early 2004 and my brother and I are still planning to someday get rid of her awesome collection of polyester double knit. My theory is that if we wait long enough it will become chic again.
Re: TFB – I’ve got a lot of unread books on my ereader at the moment, but I bought a whole bunch recently before going on vacation, so that’s the main reason. I’ve still got four from April as well, and three from 2012. The oldest is Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm, which I have heard great things about, but…I don’t know if it’s the length, but I just cannot muster the enthusiasm to read it. Same with that Danelle Harmon book that I believe I got for free.
I think being in Canada sort of helps limit my TBR pile because a lot of deals just don’t apply here. But I tend not to go deal-happy even when the deals do work–I only download things I think there is a good chance I will read. Otherwise I feel guilty about it. Like Flowers from the Storm…
I’m kind of ashamed to admit I don’t have a TBR pile. I have a list of books to purchase arranged on Kindle by release date, a wishlist for the library of books I just can’t trust to be worthy of the money I have available for purchase. Am I a total freak that I just read books as they come out/available? I think I must read too fast…
The Tragically Forgotten Books pile sounds about right! This never happened to me before the advent of the Kindle. I’m really cheap so if I hadn’t already read it or had a good reason to know I would love it I wouldn’t buy the book. Otherwise I used the library and the limited amount of time I could keep it guaranteed that I would read them. Now with all of these cheepies/freebies on my Kindle my stack is getting ridiculous.