May 29, 2022

New Article from The Economist on Libraries and eBooks

New article available in the 7/28 print issue and online.

Here are three paragraphs from the article.

Publishers were miffed when OverDrive teamed up with Amazon, the world’s biggest online bookseller, last year. Owners of Amazon’s Kindle e-reader who want to borrow e-books from libraries are now redirected to Amazon’s website, where they must use their Amazon account to secure a loan. Amazon then follows up with library patrons directly, letting them know they can “Buy this book” when the loan falls due.

This arrangement nudged Penguin to end its deal with OverDrive earlier this year. The publisher’s new pilot involves 3M, a rival distributor that does not yet support the Kindle. “Ultimately Amazon wants to control the library business,” says Mike Shatzkin, a publishing consultant.


Library boosters argue that book borrowers are also book buyers, and that libraries are vital spaces for readers to discover new work. Many were cheered by a recent Pew survey, which found that more than half of Americans with library cards say they prefer to buy their e-books. But the report also noted that few people know that e-books are available at most libraries, and that popular titles often involve long waiting lists, which may be what inspires people to buy.

Read the Complete Article

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.