May 18, 2022

Research Article: “Available – But Not Accessible? Investigating Publisher e-Lending Licensing Practices” (Preprint)

UPDATE (April 18, 2019)
Availability, License Terms and Pricing of eBooks: an Interview with Rebecca Giblin (via IFLA)

The following research article (preprint) was recently posted on SSRN.


Available – But Not Accessible? Investigating Publisher e-Lending Licensing Practices


Rebecca Giblin
Monash University

Jenny Kennedy
RMIT University

Kimberlee G. Weatherall
The University of Sydney Law School

Daniel Ian Gilbert
Monash University

Julian Thomas
RMIT University

Francois Petitjean
Monash University


Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 19/20 (via SSRN)
Final Version: Information Research (expected June 2019)


We report our mixed-methods investigation of publishers’ licensing practices, which affect the books public libraries can offer for e-lending.

We created unique datasets recording pricing, availability and licence terms for sampled titles offered by e-book aggregators to public libraries across Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States and United Kingdom. A third dataset records dates of availability for recent bestsellers. We conducted follow-up interviews with representatives of 5 e-book aggregators.

We quantitatively analysed availability, licence terms and price across all aggregators in Australia, snapshotting the competitive playing field in a single jurisdiction. We also compared availability and terms for the same titles from one aggregator across five jurisdictions, and measured how long it took for a sample of recent bestsellers to become available for e-lending. We used data from the aggregator interviews to explain the quantitative findings.

Contrary to aggregator expectations, we found considerable intra-jurisdictional price and licence differences. We also found numerous differences across jurisdictions.

While availability was better than anticipated, licensing practices make it infeasible for libraries to purchase certain kinds of e-book (particularly older titles). Confidentiality requirements make it difficult for libraries to shop (and aggregators to compete) on price and terms.

Access Full Text: Download or Read Online

See Also: What Can 100,000 Books Tell Us about the International Public Library e-lending Landscape? (via SSRN)
Note: Same authors as preprint linked above. 

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.