MEDINA — The Medina County District Library now offers digital versions of books that can be downloaded from the Internet.
But some librarians are upset that many publishing companies refuse to sell “e-books” to libraries.
The county library’s eCard program, which started Dec. 3, allows Ohio residents to check out digital books for free without leaving their homes.
The eCard also provides access to language classes, music downloads and online journal databases.
Sylvia Williams, library collection resources manager, is enthusiastic about the program.
“Everything’s free,” Williams said. “That’s what makes it such a valuable program.
“People are paying Amazon for e-books, and they don’t realize they can get some of them for free from the library.”
Williams said the Medina County library is connected with CLEVNET, which includes the Cleveland Public Library, so there are thousands of e-books to choose from.
Each copy of an e-book is lent to a single library patron, just like printed versions, she said.
Just like library books, e-books have a due date — but there’s no reason to fret about forgetting. The e-books are instantly removed once the due date arrives, Williams said.
The online language courses are free as well, and there are many languages to choose from.
“You name it, I think we’ve got it,” Williams said.
But the selection of new books is limited, Williams said, because many publishing companies restrict the purchase of e-books by libraries.
“We can’t get ‘The Glass Castle,’ Judy Blume’s ‘Forever…’ or even ‘The Hunger Games,’” Williams said.
According to Forbes magazine, the following Big Six publishing companies have these restrictive policies:
n Penguin Group, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster do not sell e-books to libraries.
n Hachette Book Group only sells older e-books to libraries, and some e-book prices are inflated to three times the price of hardcopies.
n Random House sells to libraries, but more popular e-books like “50 Shades of Grey” could cost up to eight times the hardcopy prices.
n HarperCollins restricts libraries to loaning an e-book 26 times, then requires them to repurchase it.
Williams said the publishers sell libraries hardcopies of their books but have these policies regarding e-books.
Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.