updated 11:35 am EST, Tue February 7, 2012
Random House stays pay-once with e-book libraries
Random House helped set a possible precedent for e-books in libraries late last week after it agreed to a deal on lending. While it would raise the price for an e-book by an unspecified amount, the term would guarantee that libarires could have any title they want and provide an unlimited number of loans. The deal was portrayed to Publishers Weekly and others as giving authors fair compensation while still letting libraries treat e-books like they would paper.
The deal would most likely be factoring in the lack of replacement books needed in digital form.
Striking an agreement of the kind makes Random House one of the more digital-friendly publishers catering to libraries. HarperCollins limits the number of lends per digital copy, while Hachette and Penguin currently withhold some books to try and shelter traditional sales. Macmillan and Simon & Schuster currently don't allow any official library lending.
Along with public instutitions, Random House's decision may help the Kindle Lending Library and other private businesses trying to make lending a feature. Some publishers have balked at the idea entirely. Amazon, trying to prove the concept can work, has even volunteered to pay for a new copy of a book being lent out if the publisher doesn't otherwise allow it.
Currently, the only widespread lending in the e-book world is through private, to-a-friend lending that lets titles go out to a friend for roughly two weeks. Apart from limiting users to purchased books, it can have a cap on how many times that book can be lent out.