May 25, 2022

As Demand For e-books Soars, Libraries Struggle to Stock Their Virtual Shelves

The Washington Post has a look at an issue we’re going to be reading more about throughtout the country and something we said was likely to happen.

From the Article:

Want to take out the new John Grisham? Get in line. As of Friday morning, 288 people were ahead of you in the Fairfax County Public Library system, waiting for one of 43 copies. You’d be the 268th person waiting for “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” with 47 copies. And the Steve Jobs biography? Forget it. The publisher, Simon & Schuster, doesn’t make any of its digital titles available to libraries.


Frustration is building on all sides: among borrowers who can’t get what they want when they want it; among librarians trying to stock their virtual shelves and working with limited budgets and little cooperation from some publishers; and among publishers who are fearful of piracy and wading into a digital future that could further destabilize their industry. In many cases, the publishers are limiting the number of e-books made available to libraries.

Already, the exploding demand for e-books has changed how libraries operate. Traditionally, going to the library has been like going to Wal-Mart, said Paula Isett, outreach specialist with the Maryland Department of Education, who consults with the state’s libraries.

“Everything you need and want is there,” she said. “There are unlimited books, and if a library doesn’t have a book, they can get it. . . . Our e-book library is not like that. There is such demand, and we’re struggling to keep up with it.”

Read the Complete Article

Direct to Chart Showing Availability of Popular E-Book Titles at Three DC Area Library Systems

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.