May 16, 2022

Boston Library Consortium Says Upcoming Ebook Price Increases Appear to Be Price Gouging

A Letter to the Editor by the Boston Library Consortium was published today on The Chronicle of Higher Education web site and says an upcoming price increase for ebooks by some commercial publishers and university presses who participate in an ebook program that’s available to BLC members (academic libraries) “appears to be price gouging.”

The complete letter runs 820 words.

From the Letter to the Editor:

In the BLC program, publishers charge libraries for ebooks based on a model that combines payment for short-term use of a title by a student or researcher with the purchase of the title after a few short-term uses. In this way, libraries pay full price for an ebook that meets the needs of multiple readers, and pay a fractional price for ebooks that are of use to only one or two people. This month the BLC was surprised to learn that a number of the publishers in this program planned immediate, significant, and unexplained increases in price.


These newly announced price increases, amounting to several hundred percent in some cases, are levied on short-term uses, and this regressive pricing model is being adopted by the publishers whose ebooks are already among the most expensive in the scholarly market.


These new ebook price increases (by some of the same publishers who have hiked the price of science journals) are unjustified and therefore ethically unacceptable, and they are economically insupportable.

Read the Complete Letter to the Editor
Includes what BLC plans to do including asking faculty to consider pricing of ebooks and journals when deciding where to publish.

The letter is signed by Susan Sterns, Executive Director, Boston Library Consortium and John Unsworth, President Elect, Boston Library Consortium & Vice Provost for Library and Technology Services, Chief Information Officer, University Librarian at Brandeis University.

List of Current BLC Member Libraries

  • Boston College
  • Boston University
  • Brandeis University
  • Marine Biological Lab / Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Northeastern University
  • State Library of Massachusetts
  • Tufts University
  • University of Connecticut
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • University of Massachusetts Boston
  • University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
  • University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • University of New Hampshire
  • Wellesley College
  • Williams College


Read the Complete Letter to the Editor

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( 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, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.