Print Books are Cheaper than E-Books for Academic Libraries


  • Laura Newton Miller Carleton University



A Review of:
Bailey, T. P., Scott, A. L., & Best, R. D. (2015). Cost differentials between e-books and print in academic libraries. College & Research Libraries, 76(1), 6-18. doi: 10.5860/crl.76.1.2


Objective – To determine the difference in cost (if any) between print and e-book titles for an academic library.

Design – Case study.

Setting – Library system of a small, regional university in the southern United States of America.

Subjects – 264 titles requested by faculty (out of 462 total requests) that were available in both print and electronic format.

Method – Using Baker & Taylor’s Title Source 3 (now Title Source 360), the researchers compared pricing between the print version (paperback preferred) and electronic version (single user only) of titles requested by faculty during the Fall 2012 semester.

Main Results – As a whole, print titles had a mean price of $53.50 and electronic equivalent titles had a mean price of $73.50 (a $19.17 difference). Only 44 of the 264 e-book titles were less expensive than their print equivalents. When broken down by LC classification, e-books were generally more expensive than print across all subjects except for religion and philosophy (BJ-BY) and the social sciences (H-HV). Average prices for both print and electronic were cheaper for university press publications versus non-university press publications. (This was true for both arithmetic and weighted means.) Humanities books were the least expensive (mean cost/print title), but the average e-book cost was slightly higher than the social sciences. Science books were most expensive (average) both in print and electronic.

Conclusion – On average, print books are cheaper than e-books for academic libraries.


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Author Biography

Laura Newton Miller, Carleton University

Assessment Librarian




How to Cite

Newton Miller, L. (2015). Print Books are Cheaper than E-Books for Academic Libraries. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 10(3), 91–92.



Evidence Summaries