The Louisville Free Public Library has increased its e-book selection since launching the program in December, but the electronic literature industry continues to struggle with an identity crisis.
Library director Craig Buthod said Random House recently tripled the price of its e-books and Harper Collins limits libraries to checking out a title 26 times before they must re-purchase the text.
“That’s because we’re right at the front end of basically a whole new industry and nobody knows exactly where the right place to be is. So they’re trying out different things. If Random House gets away with charging an arm and a leg for its book titles then some of the other publishers that have avoided libraries might join in to get some of that cash,” said Buthod.
John Grisham’s The Litigators has already been checked out 140 times, but the book is published by Random House, which may complicate decisions as Louisville’s public library adds titles to its e-book program, he said.
“We only have so much money. We’ll buy a lot less from Random House if they’re charging three times as much for the books,” Buthod said.
Readers check out around 1,800 e-books a week, which is the equivalent of a small branch library and the library has added nearly 1,500 titles to make nearly 6,500 available since the program launched.