The Library Springfield-Greene County Library District Springfield, Missouri

Publisher Decisions Curtail E-book Offerings at the Library

If you’re an e-book borrower and can’t find your favorite titles at the Library, we feel your pain.

Several book publishers are charging libraries more for e-books and in some cases are no longer selling e-books to libraries, and we think you deserve an explanation about what’s going on.

The e-book marketplace is on fire, and print and e-book publishers are struggling to figure out how e-books fit into their business models when it comes to library lending. Some publishers decided early on not to sell e-books to libraries, and still don’t. The companies face several issues, says Collection Services Manager Lisa Sampley.

E-books are one-time sell because, technically, they last forever. Print books wear out over time and buyers like libraries replace them, she says. Publishers also want their authors to be compensated properly for their work, but how to do considering the limitless scale of library lending?

Here’s how some publishers are responding: 

What does this mean for the Library’s e-book collection? Lisa is optimistic, especially if library patrons continue their letter-writing campaign to e-book publishers.

“As soon as publishers get a handle on how to adapt in this market, they will figure out strategies to sell to this (library) market,” she says. “But it would be great if all of them could get together and decide on a standard way to sell to public libraries.”

Kathleen O'Dell is community relations director for the Springfield-Greene County Library District. She can be reached at

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