home Blog Why can’t I get this eBook from ECRL?

Why can’t I get this eBook from ECRL?

ECRL very much wants to offer popular titles to you in the eBook platform; however, when it comes to purchasing eBooks, libraries do have a limited market to select from. 

Why are popular titles unavailable as eBooks?


First, not every book that gets published is published as an eBook.  For example, it wasn’t until March of this year (2012) that the Harry Potter series was published as eBooks.  Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger, a popular Book Club selection is another example of a title not legally published as an eBook.  Authors and publishers make this decision for each individual title.
But I see them on Amazon.com (or the B&N Nook Book Store)? 


Not every eBook that is published is available for library lending.  Unlike a regular person, a library cannot purchase an eBook from Amazon or Barnes & Noble and then lend it out to our patrons.  Libraries can buy a print book from publishers, place it on the shelf, and lend it out.  But digital content is being treated differently by the publishers and the companies who manage digital content licensing.   Instead, publishers sell their content to OverDrive, our eBook vendor, who then allows libraries to license titles from them. 


eBooks are still relatively new, and publishers are trying to determine how they affect publishing. Currently, several major publishers do not support a public library lending model for eBooks.  Others have made prices so high or have implemented such severe restrictions, that it restricts our ability to select them.  OverDrive, our eBook vendor, works with publishers so that libraries have selections available but this is continually a work in progress.  


Why is there a waiting list for eBooks? 


A common misconception is that eBooks are always available, that an infinite number of people can check out the same eBook at the same time.  This is not accurate.  eBooks are just like physical books in that libraries have to purchase the rights to each copy in our collection, and that only 1 person can borrow 1 copy at a time.  As our collection is relatively new, ECRL starts out with 1 copy of the titles we purchase, though we may add additional titles as waiting lists grow. 


Why is the eBook available in EPUB format but not Kindle format?  Or, why is it available in Kindle format but not EPUB format?


Right now, there are two main filetypes being used to describe eBook files: the Amazon eBook standard, or .amz file, and the ePub file (.epub) that is used by just about every other eBook vendor.   In other words, they are two different computer languages.  In order to create an eBook in both formats, publishers must make the choice to code the books and sell them to Amazon and Barnes and Noble (or some other EPUB distributor).  The cost of creating eBooks in the two formats, the percentage of net profits, and control over pricing are all reasons why authors and publishers may choose one, the other, or both formats for distributing their eBooks. 


ECRL has now offered eBooks for over a year, and will continue to grow the collection.  A final reminder: If you would like to request that ECRL purchase a specific eBook title, you may make suggestions via Recommend to Library in OverDrive.   All suggested items will not be purchased, since suggestions will be considered with regard to collection development plans and budget available. 
Publisher Name
Do they sell
their eBooks
to Libraries?
Examples of authors/series
they publish
Hachette Book Group
300% markup from the same item in print.
Nicholas Sparks, James Patterson, Karen Kingsbury
Allow 26 circulations per copy before expiring. Libraries then must purchase an additional license if they wish to retain the title.
Daniel Silva, Susan Wiggs, Debbie Macomber
52 checkouts or 2 years, whichever comes first. Titles published less than 12 months ago: $60.00.  Titles published 12 months ago or more: $40.00.  Libraries then must purchase an additional license if they wish to retain the title.
Nevada Barr, C.J. Box, M.C. Beaton, Lisa Kleypas
Penguin Group USA

Allows copies to circulate for 12 months (1 year). After 12 months, libraries must purchase an additional license if they wish to retain the title.  

Lisa Gardner, Clive Cussler, Nora Roberts
Random House, Inc.
Libraries are charged 300-400%  the price Random House for the same item in print.
John Grisham, Danielle Steel, Lee Child
Allows copies to circulate for 24 months (2 years). After 24 months, libraries must purchase an additional license if they wish to retain the title
Hunger Games, Goosebumps, Rainbow Magic, Baby-Sitters Club
Simon & Schuster
After 12 months, libraries must purchase an additional license if they wish to retain the title.
Jodi Picoult, Vince Flynn, William Kent Krueger


*Not intended to be a comprehensive list of publishers, but rather an indicator what libraries are facing from the major publishing houses.  In addition, major publishing houses have multiple divisions and subsidiary companies, which are subject to the lending models of their parent company.  

Sarah Biro, Branch Librarian, Chisago Lakes Area Library
Resident eBook guru and selector

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *