January 27, 2022

Penguin Random House Release New Unified Terms of Sale (TOS) For Library Ebooks in U.S. & Canada, Max Price Reduced to $65

UPDATE: More in this article by Matt Ennis at Library Journal


Note: The following was sent to LJ and other media as a highlights-briefing of the company’s new Library digital sales terms, and is not intended as a complete presentation of these sales terms.

Penguin Random House 2016 N.A. Library Digital-Book Terms Preview

Having recently aligned its Penguin and Random House adult library marketing teams under the leadership of Skip Dye, Vice President, Library Sales, to create the largest such group in trade publishing, Penguin Random House next month will unify companywide its U.S. and Canada terms of sale (TOS) for its e-books into public and school libraries. [Our emphasis] Effective January 1, 2016, all Penguin and Random House adult and children’s frontlist and backlist will share the same title-ownership model and pricing structure.

Under the one-book, one-user principle that long has been the cornerstone of Random House’s library digital book terms of sale, public and school libraries now also will own Penguin titles they purchase after January 1 in perpetuity. [Our emphasis] In contrast to the limited-term shelf-life model that Penguin previously adopted, the full-ownership model that allows for lending in-perpetuity enables a library to transfer that ownership to a new Penguin-Random House-approved wholesaler/aggregator, should they switch vendors.

As with our e-book pricing for consumers, Penguin Random House’s suggested pricing of e-books for libraries will be variable and flexible. With the former, the guiding principle in setting the title’s proposed price is one purchase one user; that is, if a consumer downloads an e-book to a laptop, e-reader/tablet, or cell phone, this content cannot be forwarded as a “lend” to someone to read on their own digital hardware. By comparison, the key determinant with Penguin Random House library e-pricing is the opportunity for the full and permanent ownership of our titles purchased for their collections, which can evolve into a potentially unlimited number of library patrons borrowing that e-book in perpetuity. Print books, which suffer wear and tear from repeated lending, need to be replaced through repurchase. E-books do not.

[Our emphasis] Penguin Random House will continue to regularly adjust prices for public and school library purchase of individual e-books, with prices ranging from under $20 per title to a newly set maximum of $65 (both USD and CAD), reduced from the current cap U.S. $85/Canada $95. We also periodically will offer limited-time special value-pricing through our wholesalers for select titles. The first special-price promotion under the unified terms of sale will begin on January 1, with the selection of Penguin and Random House titles being finalized.

Penguin Random House print and e-book sales to libraries continue to be handled exclusively on our behalf by library wholesalers, who have been informed about the new TOS.

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.