Why doesn’t the library have unlimited copies of digital books?

If you love reading eBooks and listening to digital audiobooks, this is something you have probably wondered about. Seems like it should be easy, right? Buy 100 digital copies of a book and let everyone borrow them! But it's not that easy. It can be a hard issue to explain for libraries. Publishers of econtent (eBooks and digital audiobooks) have control over how they license their books to libraries and library vendors like OverDrive and RBdigital.

Libraries cannot buy eBooks and digital audiobooks like an individual consumer does. We have to work through a library vendor which provides a platform for you to be able to place holds and check out the items. It's technologically and financially not feasible for libraries to build their own platforms for this. These platforms do extra duty and take care of managing the licensing rights that publishers impose. Pima County Public Library subscribes to OverDrive and RBdigital, which work with individual publishers to get content that we can license and you can borrow using your library card. 

This issue is all over the publishing world news right now, because some publishers have been making changes to how they license econtent to libraries. So what is the issue? Why isn't this easy?

Michelle Simon, Deputy Director, spoke with KOLD about this issue on August 21, 2019 and with The Tucson Weekly on August 28, 2019. 

You can also read about this issue. We invite you to visit the following sites to learn more about this issue:

  • ALA launches national campaign against e-book embargo     
    • The American Library Association shares its message about Macmillian Publishers proposed embargo.
  • Fair E-Book and E-Audiobook Lending for Libraries      
    • This site create by the Urban Libraries Council explains the issue and covers some frequently asked questions, as well as linking out to other statements from organizations about the issue.
  • #eContentForLibraries      
    • This site, created by the Canadian Urban Libraries Council, explains the issue very well. While this site is Canadian, this is a universal issue in libraries. At the bottom of the page, there are links to publishers websites, and you can let them know how you feel as a library customer. 

Publishers are hearing from everyone in the library world already, and your voice is crucial to make them listen. You can sign a petition to state your displeasure about Macmillian's eBook embargo, or use the #eContentForLibraries link above to write directly to publishers.