May 20, 2022

Report: “Ebooks Seem Like ‘Netflix for Libraries,’ But They’re a Drain on Budgets”

From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

The book-crammed Free Library of Philadelphia has found a way to stay relevant in the 21st century: ebooks. Last year, 28 percent of the Free Library’s total circulation of more than five million books came from ebooks and other digital content.

But it hasn’t been nirvana for the library and its taxpayer-funded peers.


In 2018, the Cherry Hill Public Library spent $46,000 on digital content out of a total materials budget of $175,000, Mann said. Digital usage rose 5.7 percent in 2018 over 2017 and accounted for about 14 percent of all circulation last year, she added. She expects total digital usage to climb about 2 percentage points a year.


Cherry Hill also makes the Hoopla Digital service available for ebooks, audio books, TV shows, movies, comics, and music at a per-checkout charge that can range from 70 cents to about $4.


So that it doesn’t bust the library’s budget, Cherry Hill restricts members to five checkouts a month, with a maximum charge of $3.99.

“It’s a cash guzzler, but we love it,” Miller said. Hoopla is so popular, in fact, that the library caps its daily usage at $100. After hitting the cap, the service shuts off for the day.

Read the Complete Article (approx. 1200 words)

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.