Hachette to raise ebook prices for libraries by 220%

In March, Random House increased the wholesale prices of the ebooks it offers to libraries by as much as 300 percent. Now Hachette, which only offers backlist ebooks (no new books) to libraries, is increasing its prices as well.

Hachette makes older ebooks available to libraries through digital distributor OverDrive. In an email obtained by Gary Price at Infodocket, Hachette tells libraries using OverDrive that it “will be raising its eBook prices on October 1, 2012 on [its] currently available eBook catalog (~3,500 eBook titles with release dates of April 2010 and earlier). On average prices will increase 220%.”

“We believe these terms fairly reflect the value to the library customer, that the ebooks will not need periodic replacement as do print copies, and there is no limit on amount of borrowing activity per ebook copy,” Hachette VP, communications Sophie Cottrell told me.

Separately, Hachette is testing a pilot program that makes new ebooks available to some libraries. That pilot program is presumably not run with OverDrive but with its competitors like 3M Cloud Library and Baker & Taylor’s Axis360.

Random House is the only big-six publisher to offer unrestricted access to its titles, despite the price increases this spring. Penguin recently ended its relationship with OverDrive and no longer distribute e-books and digital audiobooks to most libraries, though it is running a one-year pilot program with 3M with the New York and Brooklyn Public Libraries. Macmillan and Simon & Schuster do not make e-books available to libraries. HarperCollins allows e-books to be checked out 26 times before the library has to buy a new copy.

Photo courtesy of Flickr / Ian Barbour