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Old 07-25-2019, 10:25 PM   #1
kyrilson
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Library E-Book Lending Poses Rising Problem for Publishing Industry

Not a fan of this "windowing" technique.


https://www.wsj.com/articles/e-books...?mod=flipboard


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Old 07-26-2019, 04:42 AM   #2
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Not a fan of this "windowing" technique.
Not either. But it looks like some of the publishers have figured out that higher eBook prices have led to more borrowing and less buying. Maybe that collusion deal with Apple wasn't such a good idea after all.
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Old 07-26-2019, 08:02 AM   #3
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Not either. But it looks like some of the publishers have figured out that higher eBook prices have led to more borrowing and less buying. Maybe that collusion deal with Apple wasn't such a good idea after all.
Or maybe it's simply there is no price that can compete with free, so the price of ebooks has no effect on library lends.

Based on the article, the Tor experiment said that ebooks sales increase when they delay releases to the library, thus windowing makes a lot of sense. It also mentioned that other publishers are going with a pricing based on the number of lends rather than a flat price, much like Amazon pays authors in their monthly ebook service. Once again, makes business sense.
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Old 07-26-2019, 08:06 AM   #4
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Not either. But it looks like some of the publishers have figured out that higher eBook prices have led to more borrowing and less buying. Maybe that collusion deal with Apple wasn't such a good idea after all.
I think that a lot of factors have made borrowing more appealing to a lot of people, myself included. Most people have no further use for a book after they have read it once. The effort involved in borrowing is about the same as making a purchase. Spotify, Netflix and similar services have gotten people used to the idea of not owning content. Purchasing an e-book is inherently less permanent than purchasing a physical book, it is really purchasing a license that can be revoked or not honored over time. All of these factor in.

These days I only purchase a book if it is something I want to read immediately and there is a long hold list at the library.

Last edited by jhowell; 07-26-2019 at 08:39 AM. Reason: typos
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Old 07-26-2019, 08:35 AM   #5
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Based on the article, the Tor experiment said that ebooks sales increase when they delay releases to the library, thus windowing makes a lot of sense.
If the Tor "experiment" were actual science, they would have simultaneously windowed half of their titles, carefully matching titles on both sides for popularity, and gone to every effort to eliminate other confounders. They did none of this.
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Old 07-26-2019, 09:34 AM   #6
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If the Tor "experiment" were actual science, they would have simultaneously windowed half of their titles, carefully matching titles on both sides for popularity, and gone to every effort to eliminate other confounders. They did none of this.
Because, you know, they're a BUSINESS. Not angling for a research grant.
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Old 07-26-2019, 09:38 AM   #7
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Because, you know, they're a BUSINESS. Not angling for a research grant.
Yes. Hence my skepticism about taking what they say were the results of their "experiment" as gospel truth. If they had wanted valid results, they would have put a moment's thought into designing an experiment that might have a hope of delivering that. They didn't. This wouldn't have required postgraduate level thinking - more high school. Or smart middle-schooler.

But I've been regularly quite impressed at how business and economics grads can display a level of scientific thinking well below that.

Last edited by meeera; 07-26-2019 at 09:47 AM.
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Old 07-26-2019, 10:46 AM   #8
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The eBook publishers (and other digital content publishers) chose their path when they came up with the concept "You don't own this, you are just licensed to use it on our terms, that we may choose to change over time. We have ultimate control over what you can or cannot do with it, despite your payment to us."

For me, in part it has come down to this:

(1) "If you BUY this eBook from us, you don't own it, but you pay for it. You only have a license to read it, and only on the devices we let you to read it on."

(2) "If I BORROW this eBook from the library, I don't own it, but I don't pay for it either (other than with my taxes)."

So what's the difference? You don't own it in either case. But in one case you pay for not owning it, and in the other case you don't. Is it any wonder that choice (2) may be getting more popular? My current practice for fiction novels - which has changed over time to be more library centric - is to always, ALWAYS, check the library first, and only then consider purchasing the book if the library route is unavailable/unappealing.

The publishers came up with the "license, not own" concept to increase their profits and control. This was a positive for them. But there are a few negatives as well - as some customers will determine that the license concept is not in their best interest, and decide to borrow from the library instead. And naturally, the publishers wish to shut down this alternate way for customers to obtain books. It looks like they are trying "windowing" now. But rest assured, they would rather cut libraries totally out of the picture if they could. I'm sure they will attempt this total cut-off in the future, if they haven't started already.
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Old 07-26-2019, 11:07 AM   #9
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Or maybe it's simply there is no price that can compete with free, so the price of ebooks has no effect on library lends.
Not only free. Library books have always been free. But, with ebooks, you don't have to go to the library. Not to check the books out, not to return them.

Heck, you are a profligate spender if you pay for something you could get for free just as easily as buying.
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Old 07-26-2019, 11:10 AM   #10
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You HAVE to have a "you don't own it" stance with a digital good. Otherwise you get "sell one copy, share infinitely".

Digital goods are inherently different. Better in many ways. Deficient in other ways.

There is no such thing as a "used ebook".
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Old 07-26-2019, 11:39 AM   #11
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You HAVE to have a "you don't own it" stance with a digital good. Otherwise you get "sell one copy, share infinitely".
Possibly true. But after making that licensing choice you say the publishers had no other option for, the customer will decide if they want to pay for not owning it, or not own it for free by choosing the library.

The positive from the publishers viewpoint - licensing - is a negative from the customers viewpoint. Likewise, the positive from the customers viewpoint - libraries - is a negative from the publishers viewpoint. Sometimes it takes a long time to play out, but in the end, the customer usually wins. Because it is the customer who makes the ultimate choice - to buy or not to buy. If the current conversation is "more customers are borrowing from the libraries these days" then it is the customer who is making that decision, not the publisher. The publishers can try to remove the ability for the customer to make a choice. How often does THAT work? For those of us who have children, how well does "No, because I said so" really guide a decision you are trying to influence?
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Old 07-26-2019, 02:50 PM   #12
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I think this mostly shows that libraries are finally catching up on the ebook side. It has taken a while (as expected) but the libraries I have access to have nearly as good of an e-catalog as they do of a paper catalog. At least for relatively recent books.

Of course people are borrowing from the library more. They CAN now. Until libraries were able to catch up people had to buy the e-books if they want e-books. Now that there is choice the people have migrated to ebooks who used to be paper library patrons are now e-library patrons. And the percentage of people who are e-library patrons is probably a little higher than paper library patrons because is is so much more convenient to use the e-library.
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Old 07-26-2019, 08:09 PM   #13
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Not either. But it looks like some of the publishers have figured out that higher eBook prices have led to more borrowing and less buying. Maybe that collusion deal with Apple wasn't such a good idea after all.
I think the publishers got exactly what they wanted from their deal with Apple. My guess is they're not even that unhappy with the results of the court decision. They're now back to agency pricing.

I think their goal wasn't high prices for ebooks but to make ebooks less attractive than print books, which are more profitable.

If that's true then this latest move is right in line. When a book comes out people who want it right away will be more likely to buy the print version.

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Old 07-26-2019, 08:16 PM   #14
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Or maybe it's simply there is no price that can compete with free, so the price of ebooks has no effect on library lends.
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I think that a lot of factors have made borrowing more appealing to a lot of people, myself included. Most people have no further use for a book after they have read it once.
I can't speak for everyone, but this is how my buying patterns changed due to agency pricing. First I should mention that "not having any further use for a book" was also often the norm before eBooks. That's why you used to have all those "exchange" used paperback book stores where you could trade in two books for one. So this is not anything new.

Before agency pricing, Amazon (and Barnes & Noble, probably matching Amazon) would often have major publisher eBooks on sale — sometimes they would be incredibly cheap. I think I bought the Lord of the Rings all-in-one set for $4.99, and The Hobbit for $2.99 (or maybe it was $1.99, can't remember exactly). I got the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Omnibus for about $5 or $6, even though I had already bought the hardback book. Even big, current best-sellers would go on sale cheaply. I think I bought the "Hunger Games" trilogy for $4.99. I used to buy quite a few books "spur of the moment" simply because they were on sale. Sometimes, if I really wanted the book, I would pay the "normal" price of about $10 for it.

That's no longer the case with agency pricing. If some book catches my attention I'll look at the price tag — $16? No thanks. I'll put in a hold at the library if I really want to read it. I may still buy books that I want to keep for the higher prices, but the "spur of the moment" books, or general novels that I'll read and "chuck" won't get bought at these prices. It's a personal thing, I guess, but I can't see paying (essentially) hardback book prices for these novels. I still pick up some cheap independent publisher eBook novels that are on sale.

So, are major eBook publishers losing money because of lending libraries? Only if you count selling to libraries as a "loss." While I borrow books from the library, that's not a loss of a sale for the publishers. If the book wasn't available at the library, I wouldn't read (or buy) it at all. And, if not for agency pricing, I may have bought it outright when on sale in the past.

It's another case of corporations not recognizing the importance of changes in the market and, instead of adapting, trying to "hold back the tide." Now, as they raise their prices to libraries (or limit copies) some of them are lowering prices to book buyers — realizing too late that eBooks can be produced by just about anybody.
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Old 07-26-2019, 09:11 PM   #15
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I think their goal wasn't high prices for ebooks but to make ebooks less attractive than print books, which are more profitable.
The problem is that print books are not more profitable then eBooks. Paper costs money. Printing costs money. Storage costs money. Shipping costs money. The necessary personnel to do all this costs money. Paying to ship back unsold stock costs money. Producing more paperbacks than you know you will sell (so you can grab more display space) costs money. eBooks are much more efficient and virtually free to produce in whatever quantity you want. You could actually sell them for much less and still make more profit.

Instead of embracing a new (more profitable) medium, the big publishers (with the help of Apple) short circuited themselves with greed.
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