Ill-Considered Skulduggery

Neither the American Library Association nor the Canadian Urban Library Council have received replies to their communications with Tor (even though CULC sent their letters directly to the CEOs of Tor and Macmillan).

Tor has still not made a public statement about widowing library e-book sales. They have communicated only through library e-content vendors rather than their actual clients, the libraries that get and provide access to the content.

A number of RF Working Group members have sent statistics on Tor holdings.  These libraries or library consortiums generally have comparatively large and heavily used collections.  Here are a few:

  • NYPL:  500 titles with 1,168 copies
  • Broward County:  249 titles
  • Maryland Digital Library: 45 titles with 149 copies
  • Ohio Digital Downloads Collaboration:  396 Titles
  • Vancouver Public Library:  134 titles
  • Ottawa Public Library: 279 titles with 421 copies
  • Sno-Isle: 685 titles with 812 copies
  • Mass Library System:  147 Titles
  • Santa Clara County District Library:  182 titles. 

These are some of the largest pubic library e-books collections yet Tor titles make up collectively less than a third of a percent of holdings. Many smaller libraries own NO Tor e-book titles at all. Many of these holdings listed above are also for just a few authors, with many Tor authors have no library e-books licenses. Unless Tor sells remarkably few e-books, library sales probably do not represent a large percentage overall sales (perhaps that is the problem--Tor believes it can ignore this market segment). If such is the case, let's subvert Tor's argument. If we are not a large market segment, how can we be costing much in sales? If we are a fair share of the market, then let's look at a true measure of value:  revenue, not individual sales. We pay a hefty price for Tor e-books, and they are not even permanently available (being licensed per circ/time limited). Are we not giving adequate revenue?  If not, then don't widow our sales. Talk with us about pricing.

Tor's claim that libraries are costing them sales is, as previously stated in this forum, suspect. What then is their real purpose? Could it simply be to drive more direct sales in the first 4 months to Amazon in hope of getting more individual reviews and higher rankings?At least say so.

In light of Tor's failure to make any public statement, their refusal to respond to expressions of library concern or otherwise engage us, their weak or non-existent explanations for widowing library e-books, their insistence on an "experiment" rather than honest negotiation, and the probability of motives they choose not to disclose, we call Tor's move ill-considered skulduggery. 

Is it time to reach out to library users, explain why we can't get them the titles they might want when they want them, and call for a large-scale boycott of Tor, print and digital?