Librarians Face “Quiet” 2016

Andrew AlbaneseThe new year has opened quietly for the book world, but particularly in the e-book market. Barring the unexpected, 2016 sizes up as a period uninterrupted by game-changing new devices and disruptive business models.

Even in these tranquil times, though, the winds of change are blowing. In the nation’s libraries, e-book circulation continue their climb, while elsewhere e-book sales numbers fall flat or decline. Under that scenario, librarians have reasons for concern that already high e-book costs for them could spike further, says Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly senior writer.

In 2016, Albanese tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally,  “publishers are poised to get the clearest picture yet of consumer habits; their true demand for e-books (as well as for print;, what prices work or don’t work; and the viability of new channels, such as subscription access and direct sales. Unfortunately, for libraries, however, that also means publishers are not going to be eager to experiment with new e-lending models.

“While consumer e-book sales declined in 2015, total e-book circulation was up 19% over the previous year, and 33 U.S. libraries reported e-book circulation above one million last year, according to OverDrive, the leading vendor facilitating library e-book lending,” Albanese continues. “That hot growth, though, is cold comfort, librarians say, as they wrestle with the complexities and costs of offering digital access alongside other formats.”

Every Friday, CCC’s “Beyond the Book” speaks with the editors and reporters of “Publishers Weekly” for an early look at the news that publishers, editors, authors, agents and librarians will be talking about when they return to work on Monday.

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