Canadian Public Libraries Call on Multinational Publishers to Make More Content Available

By Nicole Andrews on January 14th, 2019

Lack of Availability, High Prices Stand in the Way of Open, Easy Access to eBooks and eAudiobooks for Canadian Readers at Public Libraries

Wondering why more eBooks and eAudiobooks aren’t available to borrow? So are Canadian public libraries.

Demand for eAudiobooks is skyrocketing, but major multinational publishers aren’t making a number of best-selling titles available to Canadian public libraries, including some prominent Canadian and
Indigenous works.

Another issue is excessively high prices and restrictive purchasing models for eAudiobooks and eBooks. Libraries lend digital copies just like physical books – on a one-to-one basis. But the prices public libraries pay for digital copies are exponentially higher.

“Public libraries are crucial to a vibrant publishing industry. We introduce Canadians to new titles and
authors. We have significant purchasing power. These challenges are jeopardizing our ability to provide universal access to content in all its forms, including those who may not be able to visit a library branch or read print materials due to illness or disability,” said Vickery Bowles, City Librarian, Toronto Public Library. “We know Canadians love their libraries and care deeply about these issues, and are asking everyone to help us get this message across to major multinational publishers.”

The Canadian Urban Libraries Council is asking Canadians to help resolve these issues by demanding
stronger #eContentForLibraries of major multinational publishers: Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster.

Fast Facts

- Digital content is the fastest growing area of borrowing for public libraries. Spending by Canada’s largest urban libraries increased by more than 45% since 2014 and continues to grow.

- eAudiobook sales are increasing by double digits each year and, in the last three years, use at six of the largest Canadian public libraries grew by 82%

- Overdrive, the leading provider of eBooks and eAudiobooks to libraries, reported a 24% increase
in eAudiobook circulation in Canadian libraries from 2016 to 2017 alone

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The Canadian Urban Libraries Council is a national library group dedicated to working collaboratively to build vibrant urban communities by strengthening the capacity of Canada’s urban libraries.  Our 45
member systems operate almost 700 points of access, and in 2017 were used by citizens more than
385,000,000 times. They represent approximately 80% of the country’s public library activity.  They
employ more than 12,000 Canadians; and purchase more than $100,000,000 of materials each year.