Libraries Call on Multinational Publishers for Fair Ebook Pricing

March 29, 2016 | Media Relations

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Canadian Public Libraries for Fair Ebook Pricing continue to advocate for more reasonable prices and terms for ebooks from multinational publishers with an open letter to Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster.

Some multinational publishers charge libraries as much as three to five times more for ebooks than the consumer price, while others place caps and time limits on use. Current ebook pricing models lead to fewer titles and fewer copies for readers to discover, despite booming borrowing rates and high demand.   

Public libraries are key players in the publishing industry, both as major purchasers of books and ebooks, and promoters of reading and literacy. With the open letter, libraries are advocating for a pricing model that introduces fairness and flexibility, specifically:

  • A hybrid of existing pricing models that would offer libraries of all sizes the ability to buy the number of copies and also the type of copies (perpetual or limited access) that meet their needs.

The hybrid model includes:

  • A reasonable premium price for ebook copies with ongoing and perpetual access, as the $85 and $100+ pricing is not sustainable.
  • A lower price option for ebook copies with limited access because of time or use restrictions. This pricing should be slightly higher than the consumer price.

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Canadian Public Libraries for Fair Ebook Pricing joined forces in 2015 to inform library customers, government officials and the general public about this pressing issue. The campaign received media attention across North America, generated significant discourse on Twitter and Facebook with #FairEbookPrices, and has received the support of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, which passed a motion at its annual general meeting, calling on the federal government to take action.

Public libraries welcomed Penguin Random House’s recently announced reduced ebook prices for libraries as a positive step in the right direction. This new pricing model will help public libraries achieve their goal of providing universal access to ebooks. So far, other multinational publishers have not adjusted their pricing.


Twitter chat

Vickery Bowles, Toronto Public Library City Librarian (@vbowlesTPL), Tim Tierney, Ottawa Public Library Board Chair (@TimTierney), and Sharon Karr, Manager, Collection Management & Access at Edmonton Public Library (@sharonkarr), will host a Twitter chat on ebook pricing on Thursday, March 31 from 12:30 to 1:30pm.  Publishers, libraries, media, authors, government officials, library users and anyone interested in discussing this issue are invited to join with #FairEbookPrices.


Related links

Fair Ebook Prices Are Long Overdue

Here Are All of the Different Rates Publishers Charge Libraries

Toronto and Ottawa Public Libraries Welcome Penguin Random House’s Reduced Ebook Prices



Canadian Public Libraries for Fair Ebook Pricing is a coalition formed to raise awareness of challenges faced by public libraries as a result of high ebook prices charged by multinational publishers. For more information, visit or follow the conversation on Twitter and Facebook with #FairEbookPrices.


For more information, please contact:

Sharon Karr

Manager, Collection Management & Access, Edmonton Public Library



Ana-Maria Critchley

Manager, Communications, Toronto Public Library



Rachael Duplisea

Communications Strategist, Ottawa Public Library

613-580-2424, ext. 41382