eBooks How-To

Publishers & Library eBooks: What *isn't* available? Why?

Library eBooks: What is available?

Privacy & the Amazon Kindle

How Do I Choose an eReader? 

Where Can I Get Free eBooks?

 Publishers & Library eBooks: What *isn't* available? Why?

If you are wondering why you can't find that bestseller in the library's eBook collection, you can ask two questions: Is the publisher even allowing libraries to buy their eBooks, and if so, how much more are they charging libraries vs. the individual consumer?

Many publishers seem to believe, falsely, that library eBook lending cuts into their business.

According to the American Library Association's "Frequently asked questions regarding e-books and U.S. libraries," the Big Five publishers (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster) control roughly two-thirds of the U.S. consumer book market.

Hachette** did not begin offering eBook titles to libraries until May 1, 2013. The initial price is three times the print edition (this drops to 1.5 times the print edition after one year).

HarperCollins has always offered eBooks to libraries but in February 2011, it imposed a limit of 26 check-outs per title. A library must re-purchase the title if more check-outs are needed.

Macmillan** only began offering eBook titles to libraries in January of 2013 and then only a small number of them. What is available can be lent out for two years or 52 check-outs, whichever come first.

Penguin Random House merged in July, 2013. Penguin eBooks are now available with a one-year expiration date. Random House has always offered eBooks to libraries but in March, 2012, they dramatically increased prices to libraries over what consumers pay.

Simon & Schuster agreed to extend its pilot program to all libraries on June 26, 2014. Each title that a library pays for is usable for one year from date of "purchase." "The library can offer an unlimited number of checkouts during the one-year term for which it has purchased a copy, although each copy may only be checked out by one user at a time."

**Note that, because of Hachette's and Macmillan's terms of service to consortia, and because Selco denied our request to enroll in the OverDrive Advantage program, neither Hachette nor Macmillan titles are available to us. IN SUMMARY: From the Big 5 publishers, we can only offer you eBooks from HarperCollins (with a 26-checkout limit), Penguin Random House (with expiration date or inflated pricing), and now Simon & Schuster (with an expiration date).

Also note that neither the library, nor you as a consumer, actually purchase and own an eBook.  We, and you, purchase a license to access the content of the eBook.  See the ALA site for more information.

The fact that all of the "Big 5" publishers are making at least some titles available to at least some libraries, with inflated pricing and/or other restrictions, is an 'improvement' over where we we have been in recent years. Click here for more recent history on eBook availability and pricing.

We think that publishers need to work harder with librarians to start making eBooks more accessible to the people we both serve - you, the reader!

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Library eBooks: What is available?

With your Owatonna Public Library card you can check out books from the Selco regional public library system's collection of current and popular fiction and nonfiction, including books for children and teens. These are available through OverDrive, which enables you to borrow eBooks with your library card just as you do other materials. (eAudiobooks are also available through OverDrive.)

On April 5, 2013, OverDrive released its "Next Generation Catalog." Click here for help navigating this new version.

Tip sheets:

Some eBooks are also available through our statewide ELM (Electronic Library for Minnesota) subscription. These are mostly academic and out-of-copyright titles, and the subscription does not include the ability to download to a portable device.

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Privacy & the Amazon Kindle

Librarians care about your privacy. We simply don't track what individuals are reading, and won't tell others about it either. Therefore we want you to note that when you borrow Kindle eBooks, you finish the process by connecting with your Amazon account. At that point we librarians no longer have any control over protecting your records. We aren't accusing Amazon of nefarious acts, and it won't stop us personally from borrowing Kindle eBooks, but you can be sure that at the very least Amazon will use your borrowing record to try to sell things to you.

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How Do I Choose an eReader?

Consumer Reports has rated devices. If you have an Owatonna Public Library card you can enter your card number and search for "e-book readers" (without quotes) in the search box at the top of the screen. Use their spelling of "e-book" and you will see the information pop up immediately. Print copies of Consumer Reports are also available at Owatonna Public Library.

CNET has done an excellent, thorough overview entitled "Kindle vs. Nook vs. iPad: Which e-book reader should you buy?" (updated on August 7, 2012).

 ""Wired Magazine has a series of buying guides, including one on Tablets & E-Book Readers.

If you want to choose an eReader that will allow you to borrow Library books, see OverDrive's list of Library Compatible eBook Devices for devices that will work with the Selco OverDrive collection.

You can also contact Assistant Director Renée Lowery (444-2460 or renee @ owatonna.info ) to discuss various models and how they work (or don't) with library lending.

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 Where Can I Get Free eBooks?

If you download a free app such as Blio or Kindle, you can find free eBooks through those apps. Many Web sites also offer free eBooks. You will not find current bestsellers available for free; most of what you will find are items in the public domain (i.e., older items no longer covered by copyright). Some sites only make titles available to read via your browser, other sites offer downloads. Below are links to some of the more well-known and comprehensive sources of free eBooks.

bartleby.com
www.feedbooks.com (free public domain and original books)
www.gutenberg.org (Project Gutenberg offers mobile downloads)
www.ibiblio.org
books.google.com/books (Google Books: read via your web browser, some downloads available)
books.google.com/ebooks (Google eBookstore: find free eBooks via their home page or toggle "Free only" under "Price" after you do a search) 

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Renée P. Lowery
Assistant Director/Librarian
Last updated June 26, 2014