January 17, 2022

OverDrive To Library Customers: Hachette is Raising E-Book Prices an Average of 220% on Over 3500 Titles

UPDATE 5 (September 17, 2012): OverDrive Has Updated A Blog Post About Hachette Increase
It says that the 220% increase that they told library partners about last week was miscalculated. The average increase will be 104%.

UPDATE 4: Jamie LaRue from Douglas County Libraries Comments in this Library Journal Report

UPDATE 3: We reached out to OverDrive with specific questions about the price increase and the technical issues that Hachette refers in their comment  (below). They told us, “As a policy, we don’t comment on our internal processes or business relationships.” However, they did refer us to this blog post but it does not address any of the questions we asked.

UPDATE 2: Below With Comment from ALA

UPDATE 1: Below With Comment From Hachette (via DBW)

In February, we learned that Random House was going to raise the price of their ebooks by up to 300%.

Some seven months later OverDrive is informing customers that beginning on October 1, 2012, Hachette will increase the price of approximately 3500 titles (with release dates of April 2010 and earlier) by an average of 220%.

Here’s the full text of an e-mail that OverDrive is sharing with library partners.

Dear Library Partner,

Hachette will be raising its eBook prices on October 1, 2012 on their currently available eBook catalog (~3,500 eBook titles with release dates of April 2010 and earlier). On average prices will increase 220%.

Orders for Hachette eBook titles at current pricing must be submitted in Content Reserve by 11:59 pm US Eastern Time on Sunday, September 30, 2012. This includes any orders that are currently in your Content Reserve work queue as well as new orders created during the remainder of the month. Any orders with Hachette eBook content left in your work queue and submitted after September 30th will be processed under the new pricing.

Effective October 1, 2012, the new prices will be reflected in Content Reserve.


OverDrive Collection Development Team

Check back for updates.

UPDATE: Jeremy Greenfield at Digital Book Work Includes The Following Comment from Hachette In His Post

As part of an experimental pilot to find out more about the digital library marketplace, we revised ebook prices earlier this year.  HBG notified all our public library distributors (including OverDrive) that we would be selling ebooks to them under new terms.  We believe these terms fairly reflect the value to the library customer, that the ebooks will not need periodic replacement as do print copies, and there is no limit on amount of borrowing activity per ebook copy. Our new pricing was sent electronically to accounts as part of our regular data feed (ONIX). Due to an internal systems issue at Overdrive, for the limited number of backlist titles they carry, they failed to ingest the proper data until recently.

We are working with libraries, Overdrive, and several other partners to gather information and explore various options for making HBGs ebooks available to readers in a rapidly changing digital world.

Update 2: Full Text of Comment from ALA

The American Library Association (ALA) denounces Hachette Book Group’s reported decision to raise the price of ebooks to the library market starting October 1. ALA President Maureen Sullivan issued the following statement:

“When Hachette announced it was stepping back into the library ebook market this past May with pilots that would bring a selection of its recent bestsellers to millions of library patrons, the ALA welcomed this news. Leaving our meeting with them, we were pleased that they recognized libraries as strong partners-as direct customers and marketers of their titles, as well as integral community institutions that must be supported as a fundamental cornerstone of  literacy.

“After these tentative steps forward, we were stunned to learn that Hachette plans to more than triple its prices for ebook sales to libraries starting October 1. Now we must ask, ‘With friends like these…?’

“We are weary of faltering half steps and even more so of publishers that refuse to sell ebook titles to libraries at all. Today I have asked the ALA’s Digital Content & Libraries Working Group to develop more aggressive strategies and approaches for the nation’s library community to meet these challenges.

“Libraries must have the ability to purchase a wide range of digital content at a fair price so that all readers have full access to our world’s creative and cultural resources, especially the many millions who depend on libraries as their only source of reading material.


About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.