Why Doesn't the Library Have the eBook I Want?
newspaper article for the Dyersville Commercial
With the strong interest in eBooks and the increase of patrons borrowing eBooks from library, the library staff has been getting the same question repeatedly “Why doesn’t the library have the eBook I want?” There are several possible reasons. In some cases, the book hasn’t been purchased for the NEIBORS eBook website because it was assumed there wouldn’t be much interest in it. Or it could be due to budgetary constraints. However, in many cases, the library cannot purchase the book you want in an eBook format because the eBook format is not available to libraries. Here are the two main reasons the library cannot always obtain the eBook format of a book:
1. Libraries cannot buy eBooks from any eBook vendor like a person who is purchasing a personal copy. To provide digital rights management (the thing that keeps the loaned file from being copied or stolen illegally) libraries have to purchase from a third-party vendor and cannot use sites like Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Libraries don't receive discounts, like we do with paper books, and many times we aren't allowed to purchase new releases. Our purchasing power is diminishing quickly in the virtual world, meaning we either can't get titles for you at all, or we can't afford to buy all the titles we should have available.
2. Publishers are concerned about pirating (or stealing) of titles in eBook format at libraries. The vendor we pay for access creates digital rights management for our files to restrict pirating. However, many publishers are so concerned about pirating, as well as monetary remuneration, that they have elected to suspend the sale of eBooks to libraries. Individuals can still purchase an eBook copy of virtually any new release book, however, libraries are often not allowed.
This impasse affects YOU - even if you don't ever download a single eBook or audiobook. Taxpayers are affected by rising costs. It affects readers and listeners by severely limiting what we can offer. It affects our relationship with authors and their publishers. It affects our community when people can't afford to pay for access and they have no other means of getting it. (much of this information provided by the Altoona Public Library).
There has been a long-standing tradition in the United States for libraries to provide equal public access to educational, recreational and informational materials to their public regardless of a library user/member/patron's origin, age, background, or views. (ALA Library Bill of Rights, Article V)
In addition, Article V of the American Library Association Bill of Rights states:
"Library services that involve the provision of information, regardless of format, technology, or method of delivery, should be made available to all library users on an equal and equitable basis. Charging fees for the use of library collections, services, programs, or facilities that were purchased with public funds raises barriers to access. Such fees effectively abridge or deny access for some members of the community because they reinforce distinctions among users based on their ability and willingness to pay."
Just as libraries in the United States follow specific policies for eliminating economic barriers to information access, major publishers in the United States should find a way to work with libraries to provide equal access to libraries, their users/members/patrons via a fair and uniform digital rights management lending policy. (taken from http://www.change.org/petitions/hachette-harper-macmillan-penguin-simonschuster-random-provide-library-access-to-ebooks).
The following publishers refuse to sell or license eBooks to libraries: Macmillan Publishing (includes authors Dana Stebenow, Kristin Hannah, Jane Green); Penguin Group (includes authors Harlan Coben, Karen White, Lisa Gardner plus many children’s and young adult authors); Simon & Schuster (includes authors Steve Berry, J.A. Jance, Johanna Lindsey, and Vince Flynn); Hachette Book Group (includes authors David Baldacci, James Patterson, Nicholas Sparks, and Anita Shreve) (information taken from the Altoona Public Library).
Register your opinion by calling or writing the publishers. Whether you buy an eBook personally or as a taxpayer, you're the customer and you should be able to borrow a book in the format of your choice! The address, telephone number, and email address for each of the publishers in question are available on the library website.