Why Can't You Find That eBook You Want?

e-ReadersAlthough demand for eBooks is growing, the biggest book publishers are limiting library access to their eBooks.

This means that if you’re looking for Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs (Simon & Schuster) or the first sixteen books in the Stephanie Plum series (Macmillan) in our eBook collection, you are currently out of luck, though you could still check out hardback or paperback copies.

Some publishers cite security concerns while others point out that eBooks, unlike print books, will never need replacing in a library's collection. They fear that library eBook lending cuts into income for both publishers and authors. As library users, it means limited access to some of the current, popular titles we want to read on our new e-readers.

Different publishers set limits in different ways. HarperCollins limits each eBook to 26 checkouts, then requires libraries to buy another copy. Random House recently raised its prices for libraries, charging an average of 35% more for an eBook than a print copy. Meanwhile Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan (except Palgrave MacMillan) do not sell eBooks to libraries at all. Penguin Books terminated its contract with OverDrive in February 2012, though titles already in a library’s catalog can still be checked out. (OverDrive is the digital distributor the library uses to provide access to eBooks and downloadable audiobooks; they are the largest company offering this service.)

“Penguin is the publisher of many popular authors, including Nora Roberts, Patricia Cornwell and Tom Clancy. We already have quite a few titles by these authors in our OverDrive catalog, but we will be unable to license any new titles or acquire additional copies,” says librarian Kirk Henley. “In addition, Penguin Kindle titles in our OverDrive catalog will no longer be delivered through a WiFi connection from Amazon. These titles will need to be downloaded to your computer first and then transferred using a USB cord. We offer instructions for transferring a Kindle book via USB in our Quick Start Guide. Kindle titles from other publishers can still be delivered wirelessly.”

The eBook industry continues to evolve and we’re optimistic that a workable solution between publishers and libraries will come about.

As we continue to expand our eBook collection, we hope you understand some of the limitations that are placed on us. It is our mission to provide a wide variety of reading materials for a diverse group of readers and we are always willing to take suggestions.

If you would like to contact the publishers mentioned above about their eBook licensing policies, please find links to their contact pages below:

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