Public libraries all over the world have robust audiobook and ebook catalogs. In order to carry this digital material, they need to do business with a digital distributor, such as Overdrive, Cloud Library, Hoopla and many others. These companies have established relationships with all of the major publishers, and they all have drastically different terms. Some have circulation limits, before the title has been purchased again, while others allow for one copy for every user. Digital content cannot be purchased for a one time fee and loaned out an infinite number of times.
Audiobooks and ebooks can be listened to on a myriad of devices. The Kobo line of e-readers has Overdrive integration, so users just need to enter their library card in the settings menu and can browse their local branches collection, borrow and read, right on the reader. If you have a Barnes and Noble Nook, you need to download Adobe Digital Editions, download the ebook from the libraries website and then sideload in the book with ADE. The Amazon Kindle can have ebooks automatically sent from the library, with the download to Kindle program, but this just works in the United States. Android e-readers, smartphones and tablets can normally download the Libby, Cloud Library or Hoopla app from the Apple App Store or Google Play, these provide a frictionless borrowing experience.
Just how much do libraries have to pay for each of the big publishers, such as Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House or Simon & Schuster? Every year Good e-Reader breaks down the lending terms by the publisher, so everyone can know. This will help the average patron understand what is going on, but also provide valuable data to public libraries. Thanks to Overdrive, for continuing to provide Good e-Reader with meaningful data.
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.