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'They're incredibly popular': The surprising cost behind library e-books and audiobooks - WCPO 9 Cincinnati

Author: books and audiobooks

Source: https://www.wcpo.com/news/local-news/hamilton-county/theyre-incredibly-popular-the-surprising-cost-behind-library-e-books-and-audiobooks

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CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library is facing a good problem: its digital collection is more popular than ever.But because of the way library materials are priced, that popularity is a challenge to the library’s traditional business model.Most people would be surprised to know the cost to the library of a digital e-book, said Paula Brehm-Heeger, director of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library.For Stephen King’s newest release, “Holly,” this is what the library paid, according to Brehm-Heeger.Paperback: $17E-Book: $64.99Audiobook: $99Andrew RowanThe price the library system pays for Stephen King's latest novel.Why prices are so high is complicated.One concern from publishers is that if book access is so easy at the library, nobody might actually purchase the book.That would hurt authors.By setting higher prices for library licenses, publishers limit the number of copies a library can afford. When there are fewer copies of a book available, that impacts wait times.For the Cincinnati & Hamilton County library system to get their e-book wait time to match the print book wait times, it would cost the library an additional $2 million per year, Brehm-Heeger said.Plus, the library does not own the licenses in the same way they do for paperbacks.“We license it for 24 months.We have to repurchase it if we want those copies again,” Brehm-Heeger said.That’s a major difference from a traditional library business model.It’s part of the reason why the library’s Board of Trustees will ask voters for a renewal and 68% increase of its 2013 levy.If passed, it would cost taxpayers a total of $43 per year per $100,000 of assessed home value.“They’re incredibly popular,” Brehm-Heeger said.“And we do not anticipate that slowing."Audiobook checkouts are up 20% every month over the last 10 months. Digital magazine usage is up 54% year over year.Digital materials made up 31.3% of the library’s September 2023 circulation.Print books, however, are still popular.Brehm-Heeger said children’s print materials are some of the highest circulated materials.Kari Davis still visits a library for print materials but loves audiobooks.She recently listened to Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.”“I would have never picked that up, but it was there [on the app].It was great!” she said.Davis said utilizing the library’s digital resources is easy and more accessible: “You have a lot of options.”If you need assistance on how to get started with digital reading materials, library staff at any location or over the phone can help.Watch Live:WCPO 9 News at 5PMCopyright 2023 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.Sign up for the Breaking News Newsletter and receive up to date information.

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