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About eBooks

The introduction of downloadable e-books is under investigation. Some of the issues are:
Licensing restrictions: Even though there are a wide range of titles available for individual sale to the general public, there are issues to be resolved between the publishing industry and public libraries over the licensing of e-books for loan. Licensing is more restricted in Australia than it is in the US or UK. Australian libraries can only purchase titles that are licensed for release in Australia, whereas the general public can buy from anywhere.

Availability of titles: Currently there is no one supplier of e-books that can offer all titles. Individuals can buy from a range of suppliers and have access to titles from all over the world. Libraries are restricted to a limited number of expensive licensed agreements and can only offer the titles that are available through those suppliers.

Compatibility with e-reading devices: Currently there is no one source of e-books that is compatible for all devices (for example the main e-book supplier for libraries, Overdrive, is not compatible with a Kindle). A library would need to cater to customers with a range of different e-readers. The format of e-books has not yet been standardized (some are pdf, some are epub).

Ease of use: When we offer e-books we will need to use a range of different supplier platforms to offer the broad range of titles required, which means a range of different instructions, lending rights and rules.

The range of titles available for download through public libraries is limited but developing. We hope that the choice of available titles will have evolved sufficiently over the next 12-18 months to enable us to offer a broad e-book collection for library members to download. Watch this space!

You can read more about issues relating to eBooks in libraries in the background paper released by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA).

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