E-book and audiobook availability in Libby and OverDrive

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The library often gets asked “Why do you only have one copy of this [super popular e-book or audiobook]?”

Here are some reasons why:

If it’s before the book’s release date

  • The library buys a single copy of e-books and downloadable audiobooks in advance of their release dates. This way they’re in the catalog for you to place holds. The week before the book is released, more copies are bought based on the demand and number of holds at that time. This prevents “over-buying” and meets the demand while staying within budget.

If it’s after the book’s release date, there are three possibilities: 

  • The holds have built up since the librarians last reviewed holds and bought additional copies (this happens once a week). We will buy more copies within the next few days.
  • All of the copies we previously owned expired. Many publishers only sell libraries e-books and audiobooks on two year licenses. At the end of two years, those expire and we have to decide how many copies to add back to the collection. Often demand is much lower two years after the release and we only need to re-buy one or two copies to meet demand (based on holds). 
  • The title is no longer available for the library to purchase and we are unable to add more copies. Titles can be removed from the purchasing catalog for many reasons. One of the most common is that Amazon purchased the rights to the title after the library bought our first copy. Amazon does not sell the digital versions of the titles it publishes or owns the rights to to libraries. 

In the case of titles in the third category, librarians do check to see if new editions of any of these titles have been released. If they have, we add them to the collection and move the holds to the “active” copies. When new editions are not available to buy, it just means a really long wait for the title.

One way to check on audiobook availability is to see if the title has an “Only From Audible” banner on the cover on its Amazon page. If it does, the library cannot buy it.

If you have questions about specific titles, please let us know.