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Friday, November 6 • 2:25pm - 3:10pm
Changing Perceptions of a Good Book Price: Comparing the Net Price System of the 1900s to Contemporary e-Book Pricing Debates

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This paper explores how the valuation of books as cultural commodities has changed through examination of two historical periods of book pricing and publisher-library relations. The paper compares current e-book pricing debates, and recent shifts in attitudes about e-book pricing, with pricing debates and changes in the conceptualization of book prices from the “net book” pricing period of the early 1900s. The paper introduces readers to the story of the net price system book price control system employed in the 1900s. It describes tensions between stakeholders that led to the net price system, reactions to this new arrangement, and its impact on library book buying practices. The paper then describes similarities between the net price system conflict and current tensions in e-book pricing and purchasing practices. Finally, the paper uses the concept of cultural commodity to explain how, in both periods, changes in pricing led to changes in how libraries evaluate books for purchase and how librarians conceptualize what counts as a good price for a book. Librarians, publishers, and vendors are invited to contribute to the discussions of what makes a good book in terms of price.

avatar for Mei Zhang

Mei Zhang

Ph.D. student, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
I am a Ph.D student majored in Library Science at University of Wisconsin- Madison. My research focuses on electronic resource management and information policy, and my dissertation will explore decision making processes used by libraries for selecting e-book packages, and processes... Read More →

Friday November 6, 2015 2:25pm - 3:10pm EST
Cooper Room, Courtyard Marriott