For the first time in history, libraries are unable to purchase some materials on behalf of community residents. Several major publishers refuse to sell e-books to libraries at any price, while other large publishers sell with restrictions and/or at prices far above consumer prices. Cook Memorial Library joins the American Library Association in a national public awareness effort to support non-discriminatory access to digital content through U.S. libraries.

“If our libraries’ digital bookshelves mirrored fiction bestseller lists, we would be missing half of our collection any given week due to these publishers’ policies. This is simply unacceptable,” said an ALA spokesperson. “To deny library users access to e-books that are available to others—and which libraries are eager to purchase on their behalf—is discriminatory.”

Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and Penguin currently deny wide access to their e-books for our nation’s 112,000 libraries and roughly 169 million public library users. Penguin recently launched a pilot with a few large library systems. Hachette licenses older titles (backlist) to libraries and has a pilot underway regarding newer titles. HarperCollins caps library licensing to its titles to 26 circulations; and Random House sells many of its titles to libraries at a much higher price than to consumers.

“Taken together, these restrictions and conditions threaten readers’ access to our creative and cultural record through our most democratic institution – the public library,” said [library spokesperson]. “Sadly, this means that while most libraries are investing in e-book collections, the universe of digital options available to our readers has shrunk.”

the Friends of Cook Memorial Library began investing in e-books with an annual membership in Overdrive in February of 2007; their initial investment was $200, and during that first year, 164 audios were downloaded. Last year, in 2012, 2239 ebooks and audios were downloaded by our patrons. We feel that community interest in this service will grow exponentially over the next few years.

E-Books in Libraries