Issues facing European libraries loaning e-books

A paper (pdf) by Klaus-Peter Böttger investigates issues facing European libraries loaning e-books, which are slowly, but steadily becoming more popular in most countries (partly, at least, because the rise of inexpensive e-readers).

Local language plays a role, Bottger writes, as does (of course) copyright, which has not caught up to technological change, forcing libraries into extra agreements with either authors, publishers or other copyright holders. (Physical books are protected under the first-sale doctrine.) 

Böttger outlines examples of licensing models for e-books:  

  • 26-loan capacity: after 26 loans the library has to pay another license fee
  • Only a limited back-list is available as e-books but not the new titles
  • New titles are more expensive than older ones
  • Libraries have to pay higher prices than private consumers
  • Example: While the consumer’s price for ‘Fifty shades of grey’ was
  • 9.99 USD the library price was 47.85 USD, almost five times as high!6
  • Libraries have to pay a fee per loan to the publisher
  • Libraries pay a license fee for the first 2 years according to the principle ‘one file – one user only’, but get a new second access free after two years

Here is a link to the paper: E-books : access to e-books, opportunities and limits – the challenge for libraries by Klaus-Peter Böttger