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E-books cause friction between libraries and publishers

Patrons frequently ask why we don’t have the latest e-book titles in OverDrive, our digital loan service that allows you to download e-books to your e-reader free of charge. We subscribe to OverDrive through the Colorado Digital Consortium, a group of 29 smaller libraries in the state. This alliance gives our patrons access to all their holdings, including 4,394 e-books, 2,253 audio books, 280 music collections and 395 videos.

When you see that new e-books are available on Amazon and on the Barnes and Noble site, you ask why we don’t have them for you as well. Unfortunately, publishers are to blame — and the situation is getting worse.

Publishers either won’t allow their current titles to be sold to libraries or they are asking ridiculous prices for libraries to have the privilege of “renting” their e-books, Sisson Library director Jackie Welch explained in frustration. “Libraries do have access to the current titles in downloadable audio books — but not as e-books. What is the difference?”

The latest escalation of the dispute between libraries and publishers happened when Penguin announced last month that their new books will no longer be available on OverDrive. That move followed the earlier withdrawal of Kindle loans through OverDrive — later restored and now made more difficult again — and the pulling of any new e-books and audio books from the service. Meanwhile, Random House has doubled or tripled its prices to libraries for e-books. And some publishers already are limiting the number of loans permitted for each e-book a library purchases.

“These restrictions and price increases are a huge issue for small libraries like ours,” Jackie said.

“Money concerns are even more important in today’s economic climate because our tax revenue dropped by 25 percent this year as a result of lower property valuations.”

A bit of good news in this ongoing saga is that Penguin reaffirmed its commitment to the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries to work out a solution. “In these ever-changing times, it is vital that we forge relationships with libraries and build a future together,” their statement said.

Some observers think that libraries are caught in the middle of the current fight between Amazon and the publishing world as Amazon seeks to make deals directly with authors, cutting out publishers and booksellers from the equation. There even are reports that Amazon is planning to open physical bookstores.

As is true with so many disagreements, the issue comes down to money. A solution must be found that provides publishers with a fair profit and libraries with a wide variety of books in all formats to serve their communities’ reading needs.

An ALA delegation recently met with publishers in New York to begin working out a compromise. As information was exchanged by both sides, the library group was surprised at how little the publishers understood library operations as well as patrons’ expectations as taxpayers who are funding their local libraries.

Meanwhile, the OverDrive people say they are working hard to close the gap between retail release of e-books and the date they are available to our patrons. Detailed instructions about using OverDrive are available at or you can pick up a paper copy at the library.

Also, for the past several months Jackie has been buying titles exclusively for our library’s patrons, called OverDriveAdvantage, so you can get new titles faster than just through the regular OverDrive system. Watch for Advantage e-book listings below, and in past and future Library columns. You can find e-book offerings from previous Library columns by going to our website and clicking on the News & Events box in the left column of the home page.

And stay tuned as this digital story unfolds. We are talking about profound changes in the publishing industry that will affect us all.


New e-book Advantage titles purchased exclusively for our patrons include “Lone Survivor,” an eyewitness account of a U.S. Navy Seals operation in Afghanistan by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson; “Apple Turnover Murder” and “Cinnamon Roll Murder,” two mysteries by Joanne Fluke; “Vow,” an inspirational story that inspired the movie by Kim Carpenter, Krickitt Carpenter and Dana Wilkerson; and “Victims,” a thriller by Jonathan Kellerman. If you are not aware of how to access the free e-book opportunities available for our patrons through your library, please go to or you can pick up a paper copy at the library.

Large print westerns

“Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot” by Stephen Bly, the last book by this popular author who died in June 2011, follows the legendary lawman Stuart Brannon who is summoned by Teddy Roosevelt to clear up a mystery. “The Last Outlaw” by Stone Wallace is about an ex-con named Cash McCall who is trying to go straight.

Other large print fiction

“Pure” by Julianna Baggott is a post-apocalypse story that is being made into a film by the producers of the Twilight movies. “Home Front” by Kristin Hannah follows the difficulties of a family as the wife is deployed to Iraq and her defense attorney husband becomes a single parent to their two girls.

Local history

“The Crime Buff’s Guide to the Outlaw Rookies” by Ron Franscell takes you to crime scenes that made the Rocky Mountain Old Wild West truly wild. “Notorious San Juans: Wicked Tales from Ouray, San Juan & La Plata Counties” by Carol Turner tell of the famous and infamous troublemakers in our history.

Other nonfiction

“Dog Training: Retrievers and Pointing Dogs” by Jason Smith tells you how to train the hunting dog that you want. “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” by Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo follows the lives of the poorest of the poor who live in a makeshift settlement in the shadow of a luxury hotel near the Mumbai airport.

Mysteries and suspense

“Yours, Mine, and Ours” by Maryjanice Davidson is the next installment in a comedic mystery series featuring an unconventional FBI agent. “Cinnamon Roll Murder” by Joanne Fluke is a Hannah Swenson mystery with recipes. “Chasing Midnight” by Randy Wayne White is the latest adventure featuring Doc Ford. “Lone Wolf” by Jodi Picoult is a family saga about a man who is better at relationships with wolves than his family. “Cat’s Claw” by Susan Wittig Albert is the latest in the Pecan Springs mystery series featuring the town’s first female police chief. “Dead Over Heels” by Charlaine Harris is the latest in the Southern-style Aurora Teagarden mystery series. “Victims” by Jonathan Kellerman is the latest in the mystery series featuring sleuthing psychologist Alex Delaware.

Other new novels

“I’ve Got Your Number” by Sophie Kinsella is a saga that begins with a woman whose phone is stolen so she grabs an abandoned phone in a trash can. “The Thief” by Clive Cussler and Justin Scott is part of the Isaac Bell adventure series. “Illusion” by Frank Peretti follows a couple famous for their magic act after the wife dies and then comes back with even more magical powers as a 19-year-old.

Books on CD

“The Loner Rattlesnake Valley” by J.A. Johnstone is a western set in Texas. “Dead Before Sundown” by William W. Johnstone is the latest in the Last Gunfighter western series. “Hanging in Wild Wind” by Ralph Cotton is a western featuring Arizona Ranger Sam Burrack. “Cinnamon Roll Murder” by Joanne Fluke is a Hannah Swensen mystery with recipes.

Thanks to our donors

For books and materials this week, we thank Lorrie and Stan Church as well as Robert and Susan Kanyur.

Quotable quote

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou, contemporary American author and poet.


For more information on library books, services and programs — and to reserve books from the comfort of your home — please visit our website at

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