Jamie LaRue, Director of the Douglas County Libraries, sent this information to me about a new monthly price comparison of eBooks. In addition to its appearance in American Libraries, it will be available at both the American Libraries e-Content blog (americanlibrariesmagazine.org/e-content) and at evoke.cvlsites.org.
In the past months, the prices of ebooks for libraries—and in particular, some large price increases—have received considerable attention. But these discussions typically occur in the abstract. I decided that a focus on actual prices would greatly illuminate the challenges that libraries face.
Thus, Douglas County (Colo.) Libraries compiled a new monthly price comparison report (PDF file). In addition to the American Libraries E-Content blog, this report also will be available at evoke.cvlsites.org.
Why are we doing it?
First, it helps us be good stewards of public funds. We want to know how well our deals compare to the market, and to ensure that we do the best we can with public dollars.
Second, we get a lot of questions from our patrons about why we don’t have more of these bestselling titles in digital format. From now on, we’ll hand them this report, and point out the obvious: some ebooks we can’t buy at all, and others are so much more expensive than print that it doesn’t make good business sense to invest in them.
Third, we believe that presenting these numbers to the library and publishing worlds exposes a problem that is, or should be, a matter of public concern. To that end, please feel free to copy and distribute this report as freely as you wish.
It is our contention that pricing of materials purchased by the public is a matter of public record, and that it benefits all of us to share it. In fact, one of our Board adopted policies reads (in part) as follows (and the full text can be found at http://douglascountylibraries.org/files/DCLBylawsandPoliciesManual1211.pdf) :
Douglas County Libraries does not sign nondisclosure clauses in its contractual agreements. The following language can be used if a vendor requests a non‐disclosure agreement:
* Application of the Act. The Consultant acknowledges and agrees that all documents in the Authorityʹs possession, including documents submitted by the Consultant, are subject to the provisions of the Colorado Open Records Act (Sections 24‐72‐101, et seq., Colorado Revised Statutes) (the ʺActʺ), and the Consultant acknowledges that the Authority shall abide by the Act, including honoring all proper public records requests made thereunder. The Consultant shall be responsible for all costs incurred in connection with any determinations required to be made by a court, pursuant to the Act. The Consultant is advised to contact legal counsel concerning such acts in application of the Act to the Consultant.
* Confidential or Proprietary Materials. If the Consultant deems any document(s) which the Consultant submits to the Authority to be confidential, proprietary or otherwise protected from disclosure under the Act, then the Consultant shall appropriately label such document(s), and submit such document to the Authority together with a written statement describing the material which is requested to remain protected from disclosure and the justification for such request. This request will either be approved or denied by the Authority; however, the Authority will make a good‐faith effort to accommodate all reasonable requests.
* Stakeholder. In the event of litigation concerning the disclosure of any document(s) submitted by the Consultant to the Authority, the Authorityʹs sole involvement will be as stakeholder retaining the document(s) until otherwise ordered by the court, and the consultant shall be fully responsible for otherwise prosecuting or defending any actions concerning the document(s) at its sole expense and risk.
Usually, this report will focus on the titles available from the New York Times bestseller lists. On occasion, we might mix it up just to compare the prices of less popular titles.
I would like to thank the editorial staff of American Libraries for their interest in this feature.
As noted in the report, our Associate Director of Finance, Karen Gargan, can be reached at email@example.com. Or feel free to direct any inquiries to me, firstname.lastname@example.org.