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Browns Books – Statement Regarding eBook Pricing

We have been following recent developments regarding eBook pricing on the news and social media over the last couple of days, and would firstly like to apologise for any recent confusion regarding eBook pricing that we may have caused, and secondly explain the reasons why certain titles have been displaying incorrect pricing on the BBFS website.

The pricing issues stem from two inter-linked issues, eTextbook sales which are designed to be negotiated directly between the customer and the publisher, which are then hosted on VLeBooks, and some content which is in the process of being rehosted for ex-DawsonERA customers.

During the Summer months, Browns Books became able to sell eTextbook titles from a number of major publishers, and began work to integrate these into our sales and website systems.  In order to list these titles correctly, they must be unable to be purchased directly on the Browns Books website, and an enquiry must be sent to the publisher for pricing

As many of you will know, the DawsonERA platform then ceased to exist on the 31st July, and Browns Books have been able to host the majority of this content – some 800,000 licenses across many hundreds of customers, and without this effort, we estimate that up to 60% of content would not have been able to be rehosted on other platforms, and many customers would have lost huge investments in eBook content. In order to achieve this task, many weeks of development and preparation were required, plus ongoing efforts to increase the capacity of the VLeBooks platform to deliver content to students in a stable and efficient manner.

Due to the monumental effort from our team to secure access to the content, unfortunately other developments were delayed – namely the pricing of eTextbook content.  Therefore, due to the large number of customer requests for eTextbook content, we made the decision to make these visible on the Browns Books website with dramatically increased prices – this decision was made to ensure that the pricing was displayed at such a level as to discourage customers from trying to purchase them directly, and instead, contact our team for clarification – unfortunately this choice has backfired, but it was not our intention to cause alarm.

The second set of titles is a subset of titles that were only ever available on the DawsonERA platform, and had to be loaded immediately into VLeBooks to provide continuity of access. Our computer systems have a number of safety mechanisms, which are essential to preventing unauthorised sales which we needed to overcome to get this content migrated. 

Under the terms of the DawsonERA transfers, there were a number of titles we were able to transfer where the customer owned a license,  but do not have continuing sales rights for and titles have to be loaded into our eBook reader in a different way. It has also been essential to load duplicate content into our systems to ensure that customers received the same eISBN as they owned originally to reduce the amount of migration work required in LMS and discovery services.  Again, to avoid any unintentional sales, pricing multipliers of 10x were applied to these titles, to make them easily visible and removable within our databases.  Unfortunately, out of the 60,000 titles falling into this category, roughly 7,000 titles remain and are still to be removed which is still underway as a priority task.

Our eTextbook pricing developments are now back in full swing, and will be deployed by the end of November.  Until that time, we are in the process of removing eTextbook content from our website. However anyone wishing to purchase these models can contact our team to request access.

Rest assured, Browns Books do not change, increase or otherwise inflate prices of eBook content available to purchase– should you wish to clarify any pricing, you can contact us any time!

Finally, we’d like to thank the fantastic eBook team we have at Browns Books who have worked incredibly hard this last year to provide a fantastic service with increasing demand during the global Coronavirus pandemic, and the amazing eBook community, of customers, librarians and education providers who are working so hard to support students education during the pandemic. 

The Browns Books Team welcome all feedback! We have plenty more to develop and learn from customers and industry to continue to develop our service and products to meet your needs. We are committed to continue to improve to do more and do it better, whilst investing in our people and our services please keep a look out on our website and social media channels for more news and developments coming soon.

If you need to confirm eBook pricing please contact our customer care department on