West Hartford Library patrons urged to contact Legislature regarding eBook and audiobook costs – We-Ha


The West Hartford Library explains the exorbitant cost of e-books and audiobooks and what it means for the community.


Demand for e-books and e-audiobooks has exploded in recent years, in part due to the pandemic and access to physical materials. West Hartford itself has seen a 166% increase over the past five years.

Libraries have struggled to obtain and provide equitable access to e-books and e-audiobooks for years. They are constantly faced with the increased costs associated with obtaining digital resources that allow people to access documents in their city. According to the State Library, the cost for libraries to obtain an e-book license is twice what it costs to purchase a hardcover copy of the same resource. Additionally, these licenses often expire after a set period of time or number of verifications.

Unlike a physical book, libraries cannot purchase eBooks or audiobooks from any outlet and provide access to their customers. There is technology needed to securely manage digital content, and libraries need to go through third-party platforms to host their digital collections.

Additionally, publishers have set restrictions on the number of checks per copy. According to library manager Laura Irmscher, “we have to buy the same titles over and over because the licenses expire. Our customers have to wait longer for access to books because our collection budgets cannot adequately support the cost of materials.

Recently, Connecticut introduced a bill that would lower the cost of purchasing these digital assets. The bill would require e-book publishers to license these books to public libraries on reasonable terms. The Connecticut bill is the sixth library bill currently pending in state legislatures and the eighth bill overall. Bills are currently pending in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Illinois, Tennessee and Missouri, and bills have already passed in Maryland and New York.

The West Hartford Public Library is asking all patrons to please write a letter to the Legislative Planning and Development Committee expressing their concern on behalf of the libraries. Please write about your frustration with long wait times, missing books in long-running series, and share how valuable e-content is to you and your families. Their email address is: [email protected], the subject line might read: SB #131 Your name, city, pro. Above the salutation of the letter, please write: SB No. 131 (Raised) AN ACT RESPECTING E-BOOK LICENSING. Thank you in advance for your help.

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