Answered By: Reference Staff
Last Updated: Sep 17, 2019     Views: 297

Not all books are available in eBook or eAudiobook format. Even if they are available, sometimes they cannot be purchased by libraries, depending on the publisher.


Public libraries purchase a lot of e-content, but generally pay a higher price and must comply with more restrictive terms than someone buying for their personal collection. Publishers set pricing and terms. For example, a recent popular bestseller costs $28.35 on, but libraries pay $55 for the same title – and can only make it available for 24 months. 


Your access to eBooks and eAudiobooks as a library patron could be restricted under new terms set by major publishers. For example:

  • Macmillan restricts libraries from purchasing more than one copy of their eBooks for the first eight weeks after release. This impacts our ability to buy multiple copies and keep your hold lists and wait times reasonable.
  • Simon & Schuster allows eBooks and eAudiobooks to checkout for 24 months. After 24 months, access expires from the library’s collection and another copy has to be purchased. This makes it hard for libraries to keep full series and older titles available while still purchasing new titles.


The Sonoma County Library is concerned about these troubling publisher trends, which interfere with our mission to provide free and equitable access to information in a variety of formats. We believe all published works must be available for libraries to purchase and lend without restrictions or delays.


To learn more and voice your opinion, click here.