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Library Patrons Denied Thousands of eBooks

September's Your Library Connection Column

Radical changes are happening in the world of libraries, authors, and publishers.  These changes center around the ebook, an electronic version of the traditional book that can be read on a computer or a device like the Nook, Kindle, iPad, Sony reader, or other ereader.  The surge in ebooks and ereaders  has caused all of us to look at the printed book and ask questions of our tried and true methods of providing books and information to the public.

With the huge increase in ebooks and ereaders, publishers and authors are concerned about getting their share of the cut while libraries want to continue to provide books to the public in print, electronic, audio, or other formats desired.  The conflicting interests have resulted in the denial of ebook purchases for libraries from several of the largest publishers.  Unlike an individual, libraries cannot go to Barnes & Noble or Amazon and purchase an ebook for lending.  In addition, other publishers have placed restrictions on which titles libraries can purchase, how many times the ebook can circulate before buying a new one, and another has tripled its ebook prices for libraries.  For example, the Fifty Shades of Grey ebook is available for $10 to individuals, but is priced at over $80 for libraries.

The Independence Public Library and other libraries across the nation want to provide as many options as possible to the public.  Unfortunately, libraries cannot purchase thousands of ebook titles.  For example, libraries cannot purchase these electronic books: Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Zoo by James Patterson, and Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks.  Many other titles, some by Janet Evanovich, Vince Flynn, Ken Follett, Dean Koontz, and Lisa Scottoline, are also unavailable.

On a more positive note, your library does offer over 7,000 ebooks that can be checked out and downloaded on your ereader or computer.  NEIBORS is the e-lending system, so when you go to the library’s website click on the ebook tab at the top or on the NEIBORS logo for access to ebooks.  There are also step-by-step directions you can access.  Library staff members would be glad to help you with your ereader, and the library also offers classes periodically.  The next ereader classes will be in November.

The American Library Association (ALA) and other groups are working with publishers to reach agreements so that the general public would have the opportunity to access the ebook titles they want from libraries.  Publishers which have the biggest restrictions currently are Macmillan Publishing, Brilliance Audio, Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group, and Random House.  Go to the ebook tab on the library’s website and click on the link to a petition if you would like to add your name to those that are asking that libraries be given the right to purchase and lend ebooks.  If you have any questions, please contact me at 319-334-2470 or


More information:
Publishers Long Overdue in Offering Libraries eBook Models by Molly Raphael

ALA Releases Report on Library E-Book Business Models

Macmillan Confirms Ebook Pilot for Libraries