Since 2013, publishers have changed their pricing policies for libraries. They all charge different amounts now. However, most still have expirations on ebook leases. Once those leases expire, if the library wants to be able to lend an ebook, the library has to purchase another lease. Based on the information from the guidelines referenced above, the estimate on current ebook costs-per-checkout is that they are four to ten times the cost of print books. If we had more precise information on what FCPL is actually paying for ebooks, we would have a clearer picture of the difference in the cost of ebooks vs print books.
There is a finite amount of money for the purchase of library materials. Recently the materials budget has been less than 10% of the whole FCPL budget, or $2.5 million. When money is diverted from the materials budget to rent ebooks, there is less money to buy print books. When we rent ebooks one has to wonder what print books are not being purchased for the library. What are we doing without?
Ebook prices are a moving target and pricing guidelines may have changed since the document was compiled last fall for ALA, but as of last fall it's clear that ebooks cost libraries much, much more than print books.
Fairfax Library Advocates