4 Ways to Purchase e-Books for Your Library

One of the most confusing things about starting to look at implementing e-Books in a library is all of the different ways you can go about purchasing them. Here’s a quick cheat sheet explaining four of the ways I looked at when evaluating them here at the New York Law Institute.




One of the easiest ways to get a large number of e-Books in one fell swoop is to sign up with an aggregator. They provide access to e-Books from hundreds of different publishers in many different subject areas. And the best part is they work out all of the licensing agreements with the individual publishers, leaving you to just sign one agreement. The most well-known aggregator out there right now is Overdrive which has over 18,000 library and educational subscribers.


  • eBooks on EBSCOhost
  • MyiLibrary
  • EBL – Ebook Library
  • Proquest ebrary
  • Overdrive



You can also go directly to the source and find out what e-Book packages individual publishers are offering. You may also buy individual e-books that might not be available in the packages that aggregators offer by going this route. However, you then must juggle multiple agreements with different vendors, and have multiple interfaces for your staff and patrons to learn. Additionally, some publishers won’t sell to libraries at all.


  • Lexis
  • Cambridge Books Online
  • Thomson Reuters
  • Oxford University Press
  • …and many others. Do a search for your favorite publishers to see if they offer e-Books!



Wholesalers such as Baker & Taylor offer content from both publishers and aggregators. By going this route you can pay one vendor for all of the e-books you want from the different sources. However what I found was that they don’t offer any sort of unified contract arrangement, you still need to agree to the terms of each individual vendor’s contract and package restrictions. And since they don’t actually host anything, you’d have the same issue of different interfaces for everyone to learn combined with different access restrictions for different e-Books because of the multiple vendors.


  • Baker & Taylor
  • Yankee Book Peddler



Many library consortia offer discounts for e-Book packages. This was one of the first places I checked out when thinking about selecting an e-Book package. You can also be sure that the consortium has vetted the vendors and the packages they’re offering to their members.


  • …check your local library consortium!


And if you’d like to know more about selecting an e-Book package at your library, check out Sue Polanka’s outstanding Library Technology Report: The No Shelf Required Guide to E-Book Purchasing.