10 things you may not know about ebooks and UK public libraries

10 things you may not know about ebooks and UK public libraries


1. Libraries don’t have the right to lend e-books.  See http://shelffree.org.uk/2014/03/12/the-right-to-e-read/


2. Authors get paid (via Public Lending Right) when their physical book is borrowed from a public library, but not if it’s an e-book.  The legislation hasn’t kept up.

3. You can’t borrow library books on a Kindle. 


4. Library e-books and e-audiobooks are almost impossible for people with serious sight impairments to use. The combination of registration issues and the Digital Rights Management (DRM) software makes them almost unusable.


5. You can’t borrow an e-book in a library (unless you bring your own device, and the library offers wi-fi. DRM means you can’t use library computers.


6. Libraries can’t host and loan e-books themselves. They don’t have the technology. Third-party companies do it for them.


7. Libraries can’t buy and own e-books, which are licensed. If a library service changes supplier, it loses the stock it has paid for.


8. Roughly 85% of popular e-books are not available to public libraries.  Publishers are anxious about how e-loans will affect their sales, and there’s no legal requirement for them to sell to libraries.


9. Many library services help people to get started with e-books.  They run public workshops, offer training and advice, and take e-readers and tablets to housebound users.


10. Public libraries in the UK spend around £78m per year on books, and around £2m on e-books.