Penguin Random House's New Price Model . . . is it really good for us?

On December 3rd, Penguin Random House announced January 1 2016 implementation of perpetual access for library eBook titles: Publisher’s Weekly notes “Currently, Penguin e-books are licensed to libraries with a one-year expiration date, and priced close to consumer prices. Going forward, all Penguin Random House e-books will be sold under the same perpetual access license terms—which means no cap on the number of loans—although, with higher prices ranging from just under $20 per title to a newly set maximum of $65. The $65 cap, however, is a reduction from the current Random House cap in the U.S. of $85 per title ($95 in Canada). Penguin Random House sales to libraries will continue to be handled exclusively by library wholesalers” (

ALA President Sari Feldman has responded “Libraries will be pleased that the combined Penguin Random House license will ensure perpetual access to e-titles, and all will be glad the previous ceiling of $85 per title has been reduced,” said ALA President Sari Feldman. “But I also know many of my colleagues will miss the flexibility of paying near-consumer prices for e-copies they may not wish to maintain indefinitely, and some will be unable to afford to provide access to the ebooks their communities seek” (

ReadersFirst suggests Ms. Feldman is on target but suggests something further. Thanks, Sari, for being a cogent voice for libraries! For SOME titles, perpetual access is nice. But in a library environment in which yesterday’s must-have 50 Shades is today’s must weed, and in which access and not ownership is all that matters, perpetual access isn’t the only consideration. Penguin Random, how about keeping a low cost/limited circ option on ALL your titles PLUS the new option? Offering options isn't too complex for us. We can figure it out. Yes, we’ll pay more for some perpetual access titles, but still keep buying other titles which we may not want perpetually at a more favorable rate.  You’ll make money. Likely you'll even sell more books that readers have tasted through libraries. We’ll give access to more titles at the same budget to our readers. And for us, it’s always Readers First.

Michael Blackwell, St Mary’s County Library, for RF