… Trust us, we know the feeling. Few people love the convenience of e-reading more than your local library staff, so it’s just as disappointing to us as it is to you when you simply can’t find the books you’re looking for in our Overdrive catalog. How can it be SO simple to purchase a book from Amazon or Barnes and Noble, but not as simple to download a free e-book from your local library? The short answer is, the publishers want it that way. The easier it is for you to buy books from them, the more money they’ll make– I guess it makes sense.
As a public library we simply can’t purchase e-books as easily as you can. Copyright law that allowed us to purchase a printed book and lend it out to as many people who wanted it does not apply to e-books in the same way, so publishers are literally preventing us from purchasing and circulating e-books the same way we do with printed books.
Just recently, Random House Publishing started charging libraries up to three times the regular purchase price for their e-books, in some instances changing a $20 printed book into a $120 e-book. In most cases, the library simply can’t afford to purchase e-books at a 300% price hike. Four of the six largest publishers won’t even sell or license e-books to libraries, so if you’ve got a favorite author and you can’t find any of their e-books in our catalog, there’s a chance their publisher just won’t sell us a copy of their e-book. And while some publishers will sell us a copy of an e-book, they put restrictions on the number of times the e-book can be checked-out by patrons before we have to repurchase the book all over again. It’s tough times in the e-book world for most libraries, and many loaning and licensing agreements still need to be worked out with publishers in order to get you the materials you want. It’s going to take some time, but we’re confident libraries nationwide will eventually be able to work out fair e-book practices with publishers.
In the meantime, if you can’t find what you’re looking for in our e-book catalog, here are a few good websites that offer free e-book downloads to your own personal e-reader.
- Project Gutenberg
- Baen E-Books
- Feedbooks Public Domain
- Scribd e-materials
- Barnes and Noble free e-books
- Amazon Free e-books
And know that if you do find a great e-book in our Overdrive catalog and you’re having trouble downloading it to your e-reader, you can always call any of our libraries for some step-by-step instructions from your local librarian.
Here’s hoping the e-book revolution only keeps growing!