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Calgary Public Library members love their eBooks and audiobooks — in 2022, over four million digital titles were checked out.
But major multinational publishers are placing restrictions on digital titles. A number of best-selling titles are unavailable for Canadian public libraries to purchase in digital audiobook format, including some prominent Canadian and Indigenous works .
Public libraries also face excessively high prices and restrictive purchasing models for both digital audiobooks and eBooks. Libraries lend digital copies just like physical books — on a one-to-one basis — but the cost for digital copies is exponentially higher. This means you may find yourself waiting a very long time to borrow digital titles.
These various actions from publishers limit what titles people can access, which hampers the core mandate of public libraries to provide equitable access to information for all.
Both Canadian multinational and independent publishers are starting to produce their own digital audiobooks, but rights to their titles may be sold to U.S. producers, making them unavailable in Canada. If they are sold to Audible, the U.S. digital audiobook subscription service that moved into Canada in 2017, they cannot ever be purchased by libraries. These include Giller nominees and Canada Reads titles.
Learn about the issues public libraries face around access and pricing for digital titles, and spread the word on social media with the hashtag #eContentForLibraries.
We also want people to keep borrowing eBooks and eAudiobooks from public libraries. The booming popularity of this content is one of the strongest arguments for increased access.