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Topic: Dearth of ebooks at libraries

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Subject: Dearth of ebooks at libraries
Date Posted: 3/14/2012 11:38 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2007
Posts: 13,223
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My library system (Sacramento) has a big ol' announcement about the difficulty getting publishers to sell or license ebooks to libraries. It pretty much apologizes for not having many books. It has a decent number but 90 percent are all checked out. Do others have this issue or is this a problem unique to Sacramento?

My DD has a San Francisco Public LIbrary card that I'm going to borrow to see if it's easier to get books from there.

I thought the Philadelphia Free Library allowed others to get one of their library cards? Didn't I read that somewhere? I notice it's only Pa residents.

Any other library systems allow anyone to borrow books or are we pretty much stuck with our own system or those within our state?

Date Posted: 3/15/2012 4:19 AM ET
Member Since: 1/19/2008
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it's a growing problem at most libraries.  there's a thread going about how Penguin stopped letting libraries buy their ebooks, and some of the other publishers never allowed it.  and some of the others recently raised prices (like tripled in some cases).

for me, that means that i'm able to check out a whole lot less new releases than i used to.  i looked a few months ago when they started getting fussy and probably 90% of the books i was checking out were Penguin.

also, even the libraries that have many book choices often have waitlists, especially for newer books or ones that were recently added to the catalog.

I thought the Philadelphia Free Library allowed others to get one of their library cards? Didn't I read that somewhere? I notice it's only Pa residents.

you can get a free card if you're in PA, and "Veterans and members of the Armed Services can also obtain a Free Library card without charge".  if you're out of state, you can purchase a card for $35 for a year.  i just renewed mine - hopefully they get it processed before it expires on saturday.  it's definitely worth poking through the catalog to see if it's worth it for you.  you can also buy one from the Brooklyn public library for $50, and they have an even more extensive catalog.  FLP lets you check out up to 10 books at once and waitlist another 10, while for Brooklyn both of those numbers are less - i think 4.  on the upside, that seems to mean way more of their books are available to check out when you go look.  there are probably more, but those are the two big out of state ones i know about.

i like the perk with the FLP of using Freegal to download music, which i don't see any mention of at the Brooklyn site.

within CA, i've also got the San Jose library card that isn't bad (and also has Freegal), one from Contra Costa that doesn't have a *whole* lot but does have shorter lines for the few they have, and my home system that's part of the Northern California group (where the waits are often *very* long as patrons from multiple systems are waiting in the same lines.)

i know i plan to look at the Brooklyn system again in a few months to decide if it looks like it's still worth getting a card there.

Date Posted: 3/15/2012 5:15 AM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,485
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Each library has it's own policy if there isn't a set policy for the state. California has a set policy that you must go to the library in person to apply for a card. My Dad's library in Illinois requires folks from outside the town limits to pay the amount for the library card that they get from property taxes. It works out to be slightly more than $300 a year for a card.

Overdrive discriminates against libraries that have liberal borrower card policies, the library will have a smaller amount of books offered to it compared to a library with strict card policies.

Date Posted: 3/15/2012 8:29 AM ET
Member Since: 10/30/2006
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Overdrive talks out of both sides of their mouth. Two of the best collections (FLP and Brooklyn) are also two that let you out of area buy a card. There are also great collections like New York and LA that won't let you buy a card. I got the Brooklyn as they seemed to pick up a lot more of my paperback style WL books and there's a lot of overlap with FLP. I'll probably not renew FLP, but then again with all that's going on, I may renew it for insurance. I imagine it will be hard to get an out of area card in the near future.

Date Posted: 3/15/2012 8:54 AM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 11,697
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I have no clue how many ebooks my library has to lend.  They don't have a separate section for them, it just says when you search a title and it's available in ebook it'll pop up in the search.  I gave up trying to figure out what exactly they have.

Date Posted: 3/15/2012 10:11 AM ET
Member Since: 7/12/2010
Posts: 4,177
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The Akron/Summit County Public Library system here in Ohio lists 2776 GenFict Titles, 1116 MysThril titles, About 500 FantSciFi and About 600 Romance titles. The library uses Adobe Digital for e-books and Overdrive for Audio (music & books).

Honestly, I have not borrowed any e-titles, because I have a TBR on my Kindle approaching 800 titles.


Date Posted: 3/15/2012 1:42 PM ET
Member Since: 3/13/2009
Posts: 8,022
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It's an ongoing problem.

Part of it is a money grab and part of it is legitimate concern.  Money grab because many of the publishers want to charge extra for every [x] amount of check-outs (15 one publisher reported), which don't even come close to how many times a hardcopy book could be able to check out (100+).  Legitimate because many people are stripping VRAM and keeping e-media longer than permitted, while others check it out at the same time; thus, they are not being checked out one person at a time like hardcopy books.

Date Posted: 3/15/2012 9:55 PM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2006
Posts: 28,535
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Some California Public libraries now allow you to get a digitcal library card online (without going to the library).  My local public library system does.  However, they've got a really weak collection of ebooks.  Most are public domain ebooks that I can get anywhere.

Date Posted: 3/15/2012 10:25 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2007
Posts: 13,223
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Thanks everyone. Lots of great feedback. It sounds like it's a sad situation all the way around between the publishers and the libraries. That's sad really, when you think about it. I thought "everyone" supported the library whether a reader or not.

if you're out of state, you can purchase a card for $35 for a year.

I will go definitely check this out. And thanks for the tip on Brooklyn. I never would have thought of that library.

I did notice that many of the libraries don't allow obtaining a library card online. I think one of my priorities, if I ever go to LA, is to get a library card! lol You can do it online if you have an LA addy but other than that, you have to go in there. CoCo County is the next county over from where I work so I might head over there at some point.

I appreciate the help and the information!!


Date Posted: 3/17/2012 5:39 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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You can get a Brooklyn library card for $50/year out of state. Last I checked, they had a bigger selection than Philly but then it also depends on what you read, I was going to buy one of those but I still several hundred unread books here and about 300 freebies/cheapies on my Kindle. So I decided to wait.  Plus my library keeps adding more and more books and my WL there is up to about 200 now.  Although many are for books in series that I may decide I don't like and so not get. 

My library has about 4,000 ebooks now and seems to steadily add more.  Yes most of them have wait lines. But it's usually only a few people and doesn't usually take long to get them.  A bigger library system will probably have longer lines.  But A: the book is free, B: if you paid for the card you will probably borrow enough to make them much cheaper than buying used  C: it forces you to read it as soon as it comes instead of adding it to a pile taking up space in your home and D: if it's WL here you might wait awhile before it's offered to you: heck even if it's available to order here it costs money in the form of a credti and might take weeks via media mail.

I live in a pretty densly populated area and the online catalog covers a large area so it's surprising that the lines aren't longer for the ebooks.

Last Edited on: 3/17/12 5:40 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/11/2012 1:27 PM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2008
Posts: 15,690
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Around 70% of the ebooks/audio I read are from the Brooklyn Public Library and I read from a bunch of genres. The BPL is really strong in YA, mystery, historical romance and PNR. Also, the books are usually available or with really short lines - even those of us who live in the City can only take out 15 books at a time and you can only keep the books for 2 weeks so that keeps the lines nimble.

Ronda (RONDA) - ,
Date Posted: 4/12/2012 9:15 PM ET
Member Since: 3/3/2009
Posts: 415
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My library uses overdrive.  I search the overdrive catalog (not my library catalog) and send my library a couple requests.  When I first sent they said they had no more funding for it, but would be getting more in Feb.  In Feb they added more books and the one I asked for.  They also ordered the 2nd one I asked for after I finished that one. 

I was going to send in another request, but the 3rd one I was interested is no longer in the overdrive catalog.

So I think it is probably publishers pulling thier books from overdrive.  No reason I can think of for overdrive to stop offering a title they used to except if the publisher doesn't allow it anymore.

I think most libraries policies on members are because generally the library is intended to serve the govermental area that they are part of, not the rest of the world.  Many want proof of residency, not just showing up in person.  These policies were mostly in place before online lending and since online lending is pretty new, it will be a while before they change much.