Why do I have to wait so long for eBooks and eAudiobooks?
Several publishers impose limitations on which titles a library can purchase and when they can purchase them. Recently, some publishers announced changes to their lending terms that restrict libraries’ ability to purchase titles when they are first released. Therefore, we are not always able to purchase a title (or extra copies of a title), even when we know there is high demand for it.
There are also some publishers that will not sell eBooks to libraries and library consortia. In addition, we often have to purchase licenses for a set number of uses (e.g., they expire after 26 checkouts), or a set amount of time (e.g., they expire after 12 months), depending on the terms of the license. All of these factors can affect our ability to purchase titles to meet the demands of our users.
In the meantime, our libraries will have the title you want in a different format, or we are happy to help you find other, similar authors or titles while you wait.
Which publishers have placed new restrictions on libraries? What are those restrictions?
As of July 2019, Blackstone Audio restricted its digital audiobook titles so that they are no longer available to public libraries until they have been released for 90 days.
As of November 2019, libraries can only purchase one copy of Macmillan Publishing titles for the first eight weeks that they are released, even if there are a large number of holds on those titles. Libraries purchasing those titles will be unable to share their copies with other libraries in the SAILS network as they do with their other eBooks.
Anyone who wishes to contact the publishers directly to voice their opinion about these changes can use the following contact information:
Sign a petition from the American Library Association at https://ebooksforall.org/
I have a Kindle. I thought all eBooks owned by the library were Kindle compatible but some titles won’t work on my Kindle. Why?
Some publishers will not allow libraries to loan their titles in Kindle format even though you, as a consumer, can purchase a copy that is Kindle compatible.
Why are there any waits for eBooks? Aren’t these virtual?
Libraries have to purchase an eBook in the same way they purchase physical books. The publishers require us to abide by one copy/one user model just as we do with physical books. We try to anticipate which titles will be popular by purchasing extra copies but we don’t have the funds to buy enough copies to fill every patron request immediately.
eBooks are less expensive than print books. Why doesn’t the library own more eBooks?
The price that we pay to the publishers for eBooks is higher than the price charged to consumers. In many cases the publishers charge the library more than the cost of a print copy.
The below example shows library and consumer pricing in October 2019 for The Institute by Stephen King.
- Library pricing for eBook: $59.99
- Restrictions on library eBook: License expires after 24 months, at which time the library must re-order it.
- Consumer pricing for eBook: $14.99
- Restrictions on consumer eBook: License does not expire.
- Library pricing for eAudio: $99.00
- Restrictions on library eAudio: Expires after 24 months.
- Consumer pricing for eAudio: $34.99
- Restrictions on eAudio: License does not expire.
How long will I have to wait for a title if I am on hold?
When they are able, SAILS and its libraries will buy additional copies of books when there are a large number of holds. eBooks can’t be returned late or renewed so your wait won’t be too long. Sometimes, however, a publisher will remove a title from sale to libraries after we have purchased it. If it is a popular title, we can have many holds on one copy but be unable to purchase additional copies to fill holds.
Can I donate the eBooks I have purchased to the library?
Under current copyright and digital rights restrictions, you are unable to donate eBooks to the library for other patrons to use.
Why do publishers place these restrictions on public libraries?
Some publishers believe that eBook and digital audiobook lending are eating into their sales to consumers. However, studies have shown that library borrowers are frequent book buyers, often using the library to try out new authors before purchasing their books. eBooks and audiobooks increase accessibility for users who may have physical conditions that affect their ability to read other formats. These restrictions make it more difficult for some of our most vulnerable populations to access information.