e-Content in the library


WHEREAS, school and public libraries have been legally established for many years in the United States to support our citizens’ right to read, regardless of socioeconomic background, to preserve and disseminate information, and to educate our citizenry; and

WHEREAS, librarians have a professional responsibility to provide a broad range of reading materials for all of our citizens and to support reader’s rights; and

WHEREAS, librarians support publisher and writer profits and fair prices during these times of transition, be it

RESOLVED, that the New York Library Association proclaims that, the one book one reader model should continue to be available for all ebooks, both print and audio, copyrighted in the United States; and be it further

RESOLVED, that all ebooks, print and audio, should be available for no more than their retail price to all public and school libraries.

Drafted for consideration by:
Richard J. Naylor, Director
William K. Sanford Town Library
629 Albany Shaker Road
Loudonville, NY 12211

Joint ALA Chapter Statement Regarding E-Content Pricing

The Publishers Vs. Libraries

With so many factors and ongoing battles related to publishers’ distribution of e-content to libraries, it’s easy to get confused.  
Is the migration to digital content going to effect the publishers’ bottom line?  Are there legal issues involved?  NYLA is using this page to keep you informed of the latest information, from both the publishers’ side and the librarian’s side.

Are patrons utilizing e-readers to check out books?

ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy’s releases backgrounder on “Libraries, Patrons, and E-books.”  Among the report’s key findings referenced in the backgrounder:

•    12% of e-book readers have borrowed an e-book from their library
•    62% of people don’t know they can borrow e-books from their library
•    69% of people report the library is important to them and their family
•    Many people would like to learn more about borrowing e-books
•    E-book borrowers appreciate the selection of e-books at their local library, but they often encounter difficulty borrowing

What about the publisher’s trade practices on the sale of e-content to libraries?  Is it legal?

The representatives of the NYS Attorney General’s Office - Antitrust Division are supportive and sympathetic, but reported that there is nothing about the publishers’ assorted policies on e-content with regard to libraries that is in violation of the law.  The law does not require that any company do business with any other entity (with the exception of protected classes, which does not include libraries).

The "Big 6"

Publisher Hachette Book Group (New) Harper Collins Penguin Random House (New) MacMillan (New) Simon & Schuster (New)

All e-books available to libraries at the same time as print books.

Sells e-Books to libraries at reasonable rates, but with the caveat that each e-book can only be lent out 26 times.  After 26 borrows, the library must then buy another copy.

All ebook titles  available to libraries at the same time as in the consumer ones are issued.

Sells its entire back-list of 11,000 titles to libraries nationwide 

Expanded its first pilot to a dozen libraries.


Important Links

ReadersFirst Guide to Library e-Book Vendors (PDF) (added 4/9/14)

E-Book Media and Communications Tool Kit (added 12/10/12)

Penguin to Expand E-Book Lending (added 11/26/12)

Connecticut Whitepaper on Ebooks (added 11/5)

ALA Open Letter to Publishers on E-Book Library Lending

Hachette to Raise ebook Prices by 220%

The Visible Hand of the Market?

What’s a Library Dollar Worth

Hey Authors, Wanna Hear a Secret?

Et Tu, PBS?

Pricing Digital Content

ALA Digital Content and Libraries Working Group Update

OITP releases backgrounder on “Libraries, Patrons, and E-books

The final version of the report on ebooks and libraries developed by the Berkman Center at Harvard University

Exploring the Challenges to Equitable Access to Digital Content

NY public libraries to get Penguin e-books

On the Library eBook-Publisher Problem

NYLA Meets with NYS Attorney General's Office - Antitrust Division 

Library Associations, EFF File Friend of the Court Brief in Authors Guild v. Google, Inc.

Joint ALA Chapter Statement Regarding E-Content Pricing

“The American people long ago realized the importance of creating and maintaining a literate and informed citizenry. Publishers, authors, distributors, and literary agencies have long recognized the important role played in our society by our libraries. In the past, they have supported libraries by providing purchasing discounts of printed materials, promoting authors, and working with librarians to increase accessibility and enjoyment of the written word.

“In this technological age, libraries must stay responsive to the public and deliver the written word in both electronic and print formats. The Indiana Library Federation, the
New Jersey Library Association, and the Montana Library Association are increasingly concerned about the publishers and distributors whose policies withhold e-content from library users.

“Libraries, like other consumers, should be free to buy any published e-content at competitive prices, to keep these items in their collection, and to loan them to their
patrons. Anything less violates basic democratic principles of a free market, freedom of speech, and equitable access. If financial barriers are removed in libraries, all citizens would have equal access to this material.

“The Indiana Library Federation is in agreement with the Montana Library Association, which asks publishers of e-content to place libraries on a level playing field with other consumers of e-content. The cooperative relationship among publishers, authors, distributors, and agents must be restored.

“We are aware that the American Library Association is our national voice to advocate for access to content for all members of our society and that the ALA has a Working Group on Digital Content in Libraries examining many of the issues identified above.

“The Indiana Library Federation, the New Jersey Library Association, and the Montana Library Association strongly oppose the actions by publishers and distributors who set unfair conditions for the sale of e-content to libraries. These conditions include unfair pricing, controlled distribution, restricted ownership, and reduced access of e-content.

“We join with the American Library Association and the other state chapters to speak out and vigorously oppose these discriminatory policies.”