Amazon and the ‘Big Five’ publishers in the United States - HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Machete - are suspected of covertly fixing the prices of E-books. The Seattle law firm Hagens Berman has filed the class-action lawsuit. They also filed the same lawsuit ten years ago, against the ‘Big Five’ and Apple, and won.
Hardcovers, paperbacks, e-books, and audiobooks; whatever way you choose to read has its vantage points and other things that aren't so great around them. Here are some pros and cons of every book format.
During this pandemic, we’ve all been busy. Between work, Animal Crossing, schoolwork, snacks, and Zoom calls, it seems like there’s barely any time to read. But, never fear, there is! In fact, the demand for e-books has increased dramatically since the lockdown. People want to escape the difficulties of reality more than ever, and libraries are struggling to meet this demand while cautiously planning a future reopening.
Libraries have reacted to COVID-19 much like many places forced to closed—with innovation and creativity. The Williamsburg Regional Library, located in Williamsburg, Virginia, has converted its bookmobiles into free Wi-Fi hotspots that they can bring around the community. With Wi-Fi access more important than ever in the lockdown era, residents who previously depended on the library’s free WiFi would be left stranded. These mobile hotspots fix that while maintaining social distancing.
Some libraries, like the Chesterfield County Public Library, are offering curbside pick-up services, so people can keep reading while staying as safe as possible. Other libraries are also holding book clubs, reading sessions, and other events online to keep their communities engaged and connected during this pandemic. Libraries are doing a lot—but one thing people definitely want from libraries is e-books.
E-Book borrowing has dramatically increased since the lockdown. According to data collected by OverDrive, which many libraries use to distribute e-books and audiobooks, weekly library e-book lending has increased by nearly 50% since March 9, and audiobook check-outs are up 14%. People want to read, but lack of access to a physical library has been hindering them. E-Books solve this problem, so it’s no surprise that demand for them has jumped highly
What’s interesting about this jump is the distribution across books for different age groups. The demand for children’s e-books has more than doubled, while adult fiction and young adult fiction have only increased by a third and a half respectively. Susan Gross, a data analyst with OverDrive, said,
Now on certain days juvenile fiction surpasses adult non-fiction, which we havn’t seen before…our thought on that is that parents are probably trying to enrich their kids during the school week when they would typically be in school.
Furthermore, there’s been some shift in popularity among sub-sub-genres, though genres have remained mostly stable. “Motivation” and “happiness” title check-outs have increased within the self-help genre, which makes sense given that COVID-19 and “lack of motivation” and “lack of happiness” go hand in hand. Additionally, Richard Reyes-Gavilan, Executive Director for the District of Columbia Public Libraries, has seen greater interest in books on pandemics and on race relations.
What will happen to this increased demand for e-books and the more expansive array of online library services once libraries reopen? It’s unclear, like so many pandemic-related things are, but it’s not looking good for libraries. Compared to physical books, e-books are a lot more expensive for libraries. Libraries actually pay three-to-five times more for a single copy of an e-book compared to a physical book. And, unlike physical books, libraries don’t have permanent access to the e-books they purchase. Library licenses are often limited by time, or by number of checkouts. So, overall, e-books are expensive and temporary, while physical books are less expensive and permanent (or at least less temporary).
Since libraries are struggling to distribute the more economically viable physical books while customers eagerly demand more expensive e-books, this pandemic could, and is, creating financial problems for libraries. Even as libraries cautiously move into reopening, this demand for e-books could continue as people are still afraid to expose themselves for nonessential reasons. And while supporting libraries through any means is important, let’s not forget that e-books drain financial resources in a way physical books don’t.
Feature Image via Montgomery Community Media
Booksellers across New York City have found themselves unemployed due to the COVID-19 crisis. Although this news is troubling, booksellers have banded together against the odds and have launched an online bookstore. The Bookstore At The End Of The World allows customers to purchase books online from established bookstores in New York.
Under the URL of bookshop.org, the e-bookstore was launched to raise money for indie bookstores. Through the website, booksellers are able to display a collection of purchasable books. Every book purchased goes towards the total amount of money raised for these local bookstores, which is equally split among the booksellers. The best news is, purchased books will be shipped right to your door!
Image Via Inc. Magazine
I had the opportunity to reach out to Jeff Waxman, the project coordinator. Waxman writes, “… the biggest success here was meeting a bunch of talented, thoughtful booksellers and giving them a place to be what they are.” Waxman continues to write about his experience through this community of booksellers.
Cheryl Sucher, Waxman’s colleague, refers to him as, “a force of nature.” She proceeds to write about the influence this pandemic has had on booksellers. Sucher closes with this statement, “Now Jeff Waxman has created a tool by which they can find that wisdom in one place on line, purchase the recommended books and not only support the independents but the booksellers themselves. Genius.”
It’s wonderful to know a community like this exists and I hope this will inspire booksellers around the world to come together during this time of isolation.
Featured Image Credited To Chad Felix
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The publishing company that brought us Harry Potter, Bloomsbury, has been faced with an increase of fifteen percent from China for books printed there. This happened overnight on the first of September.
Image via BriefedUp
According to Chief Executive Nigel Newton, the company wasn’t prepared for this increase but they are doing their best to take it in stride. This increase should only have a small impact for the finical year, but could possibly cause some issues in the future. Newton says that illustrated books, such as the Harry Potter illustrated editions are published in China due to the good pricing and quality.
Unfortunately from March to August there was a five percent decrease in Sales, but Newton wasn’t worried about future sales. When E-books were forced introduced everyone feared how they would take over, but according to Newton, it doesn’t matter if it’s an e-book or printed copy, they’re still buying a book from the company, so E-books just helped increase sales.
Featured image via BBC