Leasing vs. Buying Books

February 22, 2016
Leasing vs. Buying Books

A tightened economy and higher demand for bestsellers has left many libraries with near-empty shelves. Social media and the internet have allowed consumers to share information more than ever, and discovering a new book is done with just a few clicks. As such, the demand readers place on retailers and library management systems has increased exponentially.

Readers expect a book to be in stock when and where they want to buy or borrow it. While that's great for retailers and publishers, it puts a bit of a burden on libraries, especially those without a lot of resources. This has led many libraries to explore the options of book leasing. While it may seem like a viable option, it's actually not a great economical decision, and here's why.

How Book Leasing Works

Book leasing programs have been around for 30 years, and many library managers hoping to fill their shelves quickly with bestsellers have been wondering if a leasing program is the right option. Here's how the leasing program works:

  • You agree to an annual lease plan based on the amount of books you want to lease each month.
  • You choose whether you want to be invoiced annually, semi-annually, or quarterly. Many book lease programs offer discounts on annual or semi-annual plans.
  • Every month, you're given a prepublication list featuring new releases across multiple genres. Some leasing programs also offer a separate list of potential bestsellers for that month, based on the expected demand. Titles are hand-selected by professional buyers who understand the metrics for determining high-demand books.
  • The books are delivered to you and may include a barcode if you request one. The books are already processed, so they can be shelved and made available quickly.
  • Management reports help you track your lease activity. When the books are no longer in popular demand, or when you wish to rotate or reduce your collection, you send them back. Some lease programs offer a return policy that protects books that are lost, stolen, or that you wish to keep. Usually, these programs allow for a certain percentage of books to be kept at no charge; any additional books outside the allotted amount will be your responsibility.

Drawbacks of Book Leasing Services

It sounds like it could be a wonderful alternative for many libraries, and for some, it is. However, it's actually not an economical one. In fact, it costs more to lease a book than it does to buy one. Lease program prices average about $5,500 annually for a rotating catalog of 300 books. That totals a little more than $18 per book. The average price for a library to buy a book is $15 to $16. So leasing a book ends up costing you about 15% more overall.

Furthermore, there are several conditions that the lease terms don't outwardly disclose. Books are not allowed to be loaned to other libraries or reserved. They also cannot be checked out for longer than two weeks. This is understandable, as it's meant to keep books readily available for locals only. However, it might also be a bad thing, as it may turn away many readers.

What about Book Distribution Services?

One of the biggest draws for librarians exploring the option of leasing is the collection development assistant. Perhaps that’s where the $2 extra per book comes in – you're paying for the service. Because books are curated by professionals, it removes some of the hard work of building a collection. The books come shelf-ready, so they can get out of the box and into readers' hands fast, another thing librarians love about the lease program. When you're done with the books, you simply return them and the leasing company takes care of the rest. Here's something you may not know: Ingram's library distribution services does all of this too.

How Ingram Distribution Services Works

Ingram Library Services offers all the benefits of a leasing program without the commitment. We developed this service as an alternative to leasing. We help you design a custom plan that's tailored to your needs and budget. Here's how:

  • Choose between 22 different Standing Order configurations based on age groups, genres, and other information. These lists are hand-curated by professional librarians, similar to a lease program. Furthermore, we use specific data analytics to determine which books have the highest demand in your specific area and by each age group or genre.
  • Customize your plan based on your budget or specific list criteria. Whether you want a standing order program that features bestsellers, graphic novels, DVDs, or some other category, you have the freedom to mix and match. If you want to curate books yourself, you can do that too. You can also change plans or cancel whenever you like because our agreements are nonbinding.
  • Choose from our selection of books, videos, audio books, and other media. With leasing programs, you're limited to books only. Our inventory is vast, and your selections and account are all easily managed through one intuitive platform.
  • We use your budget as a jumping off point, instead of restricting you to a certain number of books for a specified amount. Give us your budget, and we'll make you a plan. It's that simple.
  • These benefits are free when you use Ingram library services.

Our goal when creating this program was to help libraries build their collections in a way that's simple and sustainable. Aside from building a plan around your budget, we also assist you with surplus removal. We'll take care of your books once they get old or demand falls off, whether we take them for recycling or help you sell them. Our library services are quickly becoming the best option for filling your shelves at a price that's right.

Our library services are built on more than 50 years of experience and with a deep passion for books. To learn more about our services, visit Ingramcontent.com/libraries today.

Perennial Student

Leasing vs. Buying Books

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