With HarperCollins' acquisition of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's trade publishing division now complete, HarperCollins officials alerted librarians this week that the library terms of sale for Houghton titles will soon change.
In a notice sent to library customers this week via their vendors, e-book titles from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will, as of August 1, be licensed via HarperCollins' 26-lend metered access model, one copy/one user. Previously, Houghton had offered libraries trade e-book licenses on a one copy/one user perpetual access model, with prices close to the price of physical books—among the most popular and favorable terms in the library e-book market.
E-book titles purchased from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt before August 1 will remain available under Houghton’s previous model, while any pre-orders with a street date of August 1 or later will be delivered under the metered access model. Pricing was not disclosed.
The change does not impact titles from Houghton Mifflin College eCommerce, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Education, or Heinemann.
According to the notice, there are no changes at this time to the lending model for digital audiobooks from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. In addition, a variety of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt titles will soon be available via a cost-per-circ lending model, the notice states.
While librarians lamented the loss of Houghton’s favorable terms and prices, the change was expected. And librarians told PW that there is a silver lining: the longstanding 26-lend model and library e-book pricing at HarperCollins remain the most popular and favorable terms offered by the major publishers.
“We can hope that HarperCollins will keep the prices down (and they have been perhaps the most fair of all the Big Five),” wrote St. Mary’s County (MD) librarian Michael Blackwell on the ReadersFirst blog this week, noting that Houghton’s prices were “very” reasonable.
“$8.95 for The Giver? $13.95 for The Hobbit? Perpetual access? Sign me up,” Blackwell told PW. But he added that 26-circs at around those prices would still be considered favorable.
“That price range for a 26-circ metered license seems reasonable, offering us about what we’d expect from a physical copy of the book and respecting the publishers’ concerns about e-books being forever,” he observed. “At least the license is per-circ and not the ‘exploding’ time-based licenses [offered by the other major publishers].”
As for the cost-per-circ option, Blackwell was less than enthused. “Per-circ has been advantageous for publishers and library vendors, not so great for libraries,” he noted. “Give us per-circ at $.25 or $.50 and maybe I’ll get a little more excited."
HarperCollins, the second largest trade publisher in the U.S., announced in early May that it had completed its acquisition of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books & Media, the HMH trade division, for roughly $349 million.