There are several reasons we might not have electronic copies of a book – even if the library owns it in print!
First, while eBooks and eAudiobooks are cheaper than their physical counterparts for the general public, the licenses libraries must buy for these items usually cost much more than the retail price. In addition, when the library purchases a license to lend an eBook or eAudiobook, it doesn’t always last forever. Licenses typically expire after 1 year or 26 checkouts, or 2 years or 52 checkouts. Unfortunately, we simply aren’t able to buy or re-buy every eBook or eAudiobook we would like to, due to budget constraints.
Second, publishers do not make all eBooks or eAudiobooks available for libraries to license. Among other restrictions, titles may be Kindle or Audible exclusives that the library can never buy, or they may be “windowed” – that is, not available to libraries until several months after their publication date. A 2019 CNN article explains some of the common restrictions publishers impose on library eBooks, though Macmillan has since ended their embargo on library eBooks.
Nonetheless, library staff always do their best to pre-order popular titles a month in advance so our users can read the latest hit as soon as possible! Sometimes, though, a title slips past our eagle-eyed selectors. If you think this has happened, please submit a purchase request through our website and let us know!