Nova Scotia

Libraries boycott Random House over e-book prices

Libraries on Nova Scotia's South Shore are boycotting Random House, one of the world's largest book publishers, over what they call unfair e-book pricing.
South Shore Public Libraries is boycotting Random House over unfair prices for e-books. (CBC)

Libraries on Nova Scotia's South Shore are boycotting Random House, one of the world's largest book publishers, over what they call unfair e-book pricing. 

The company began charging public libraries up to three times the retail price for downloadable books last month.

For example, the price for libraries for a copy of Catherine the Great, Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie spiked to $85 in late March from $30 in January, according to the South Shore Public Libraries website.

People can buy the same book for $20 to $25, through Random House, Google Books, Kindle or Amazon.

Troy Myers, CEO and chief librarian of South Shore Public Libraries, said the publishing powerhouse does not seem to be concerned about the loss of business so far, but he hopes the boycott will make a statement. 

"We're not trying to pick a fight with Random House. We just want them to be good partners and they need to really stop seeing public libraries in this country and elsewhere as a threat. I think there's been a long history of that over the years and this is the latest chapter in that story," he said.

"I think they really need to start seeing us a partner that really builds their business as opposed to dampen sales for them because that really, in my opinion, is not the case. If anything, we help them sell books."

Myers said library budgets are small, and high prices mean fewer titles. 

South Shore library managers plan to speak to their counterparts across the country to try to expand the boycott.