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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
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Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Selective listening

An online campaign reveals the tensions between Canadian libraries and multinational publishers over digital pricing and audiobook availability BY SUE CARTER

WHEN MOST PEOPLE download an ebook or audiobook from their local library, they’re not thinking about its cost. After all, that’s one of the inherent beneits of borrowing from a library.

A group of more than 45 of the country’s public systems led by the Canadian Urban Libraries Council wanted to inform readers how much those “free” digital books are actually worth and why some titles aren’t available at all. In January, the organization launched its #eContentForLibraries social-media campaign with a seemingly simple question: “Wondering why you can’t borrow more eAudiobooks & eBooks from your public library? So are we.”

While the campaign speaks directly to library users, the real targets are the multinational publishers that dominate the country’s bestseller and holds lists: Penguin Random House Canada, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster Canada, Hachette Book Group, and Macmillan. According to Susan Caron, director of collections and membership services at the Toronto Public Library, “The campaign was aimed at encouraging customers to contact the Big Five publishers to demand better access to audiobooks and to enter into meaningful discussions with libraries about pricing and purchasing models for both ebooks and e-audiobooks.”

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About Quill & Quire

Poetry and process: A roundtable with Karen Solie, Doyali Islam, and Matthew Walsh; Bringing kids into the FOLD; Libraries take on the Big Five