The High Costs Of Electronic Books At The Library

Rebekah Rae

The High Costs Of Electronic Books At The Library

CREATED Jun. 20, 2013

Omaha, NE - As city departments find ways to make up for a budget shortfall, Action 3 News found some high costs at the library.  The reasons may surprise you.

People come to the library, to check out a book for free.  Fewer people are checking out books, instead, they're coming to libraries looking for a download - on their iPad and nooks and the cost for a library to buy an e-book is a lot higher than it is for the general consumer.
Online readers are a growing trend and they're increasing costs to the library.  Executive director of OPL, Gary Wasdin says the public can buy a book from a source like Amazon for ten dollars.  If a library buys the same book, the price can increase nearly 90 percent.  Wasdin says copywriters can charge libraries one hundred dollars for an E-book because once they own it, they have it forever.
E-books never wear out; audiences cannot lose one or steal one.  When an online book is due back to the library, it vanishes from the tablet.  This means less books will be purchased from copywriters. 
OPL has 12,530 E-books on hand for people to read compared to millions of paperback books from the twelve branches.  Online readers become more popular every year, according to OPL, in five years the use of E-books increased by nearly 83 thousand lenders. 
Wasdin says electronic books are where the growth is but it's still a small portion of the budget.  "We certainly could make the cut by eliminating resources but if you cut your resources than what function do you serve in the city, than we're just buildings," says Wasdin.
E-books cost the library about one hundred thousand dollars per year.  Due to the budget shortfall, the library is looking at how to cut at least two hundred thousand dollars in 2014.  Wasdin says if the library cut resources like E-books, they would save money but lose a huge audience.
It's likely E-books alone will not be cut from the budget, however, resources across the board like paperbacks, music and e-books could make up a small percent of what may be cut from the budget.