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Calgary Public Library joins library network calling for fairer e-book rates

Calgary Public Library CEO Mark Asberg said it’s becoming increasingly difficult for libraries to purchase enough e-books to meet the needs of the community.
Calgary Public Library CEO Mark Asberg said it’s becoming increasingly difficult for libraries to purchase enough e-books to meet the needs of the community. Getty Images

The Calgary Public Library is calling on publishers to lower its high e-book prices, as well as to ease restrictions on those licences.

Calgary’s call to action joins a network of libraries across North America who are campaigning to bring down the high prices of electronic books and change the restrictive purchasing model.

READ MORE: Publishers’ embargo on eBooks ‘could be crippling’ to Edmonton libraries

Calgary Public Library CEO Mark Asberg said it’s becoming increasingly difficult for libraries to purchase enough e-books to meet the needs of the community.

“Our physical book might be $20 to $40 per book,” Asberg said.

“An e-book can cost us three of four times that amount for a single copy and sometimes that price, can come with licensing restrictions in terms of how long you can hold the book or how long you can circulate the book.”

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WATCH: (Aug. 30, 2019) New restrictions on e-books could cause problems for Edmonton libraries

New restrictions on e-books could cause problems for Edmonton libraries
New restrictions on e-books could cause problems for Edmonton libraries

Different publishers have different policies governing their licensing restrictions concerning e-books, but overall, Asberg said the current model is not sustainable for libraries.

“This actually affects users across our system in all demographics because it limits the number of books that we’re able to hold in our e-book collection, so that affects everybody who uses our collection,” he said.

Asberg said they’re continuing to keep the conversation open with the publishing industry. They’re also asking the public to learn more about the situation and what’s at stake so they can advocate for fairer rates for libraries to be able to access e-books.

READ MORE: Print sales in Canada still tops but ebooks surging beyond expectations: report

“Make sure you have an active public library membership and are exploring e-books,” he said.

“There is something for everyone and the more we use it, the more we will have demand to buy e-books.”

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The Canadian Urban Libraries Council (CULC), of which Calgary is a member, said the demand for eAudiobooks is skyrocketing in Canada, but many are unable to access many e-books due to the restrictive model.

CULC had launched an online campaign at econtentforlibraries.org, encouraging the public to write to the five major publishing companies to establish fair pricing models.

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