E-books at my public library

E-books at my public library

I check in, from time to time, on my local public library’s site to see how their adoption of e-books is going.

I’m not likely to borrow one, by the way. My reasoning for that is pretty simple:

Before I go on, you might wonder why there are waiting lists at all. Can’t the library just make more copies for their readers? Not for books under copyright protection. They pay for a license to loan those books, and they are limited as to how many “copies” they can loan out at a time.

I consider this library to be pretty big…it’s the library for the county, and the one that I have used when I would check something on paper.

I’m going to limit this to fiction first…it’s easier to look at that way.

They have 4,816 Kindle books.

Interestingly, they have 5,220 ePub books…more of those.

The most popular book is The Girl on the Train. They have 24 “copies”…and a waiting list of 11 people per copy. If we figure it takes a week for one to become available (and it certainly might not work that way…people are reading it simultaneously. Still, on the other side, some people will more than a week to read it), the wait time would be very roughly about six weeks.

Here are the most popular fiction titles:

  1. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins | 24 copies | 11 waiting per copy
  2. The Martian by Andy Weir | 22 copies | 11 waiting per copy
  3. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr | 24 copies | 7 waiting per copy
  4. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee | 12 copies | 12 waiting per copy
  5. Make Me by Lee Child  | 6 copies | 16 waiting per copy
  6. The Girl in the Spider’s Web by Lee Lagercrantz | 8 copies | 18 waiting per copy
  7. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah | 9 copies | 15 waiting per copy
  8. X by Sue Grafton | 4 copies | 15 waiting per copy
  9. Gray Mountain by John Grisham | 15 copies | it says zero are available, but doesn’t list how many are waiting per copy
  10. Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham | 3 copies | 19 waiting per copy

You could be waiting a looong time for Rogue Lawyer!

If any of you are librarians (I think some of you are), I’m curious…how hard it is to adjust the number of licenses you have? I assume it is quite difficult…that there is a fair amount of process to go through to add or subtract licenses.

The first book which is available without a wait is #12, which is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn…8 of 25 copies available. It’s been a #1 New York Times bestseller, and has been popular (and was the inspiration for a hit movie). Still, it’s worth noting that it is more than three years old.

Through the top one hundred, the vast majority of them have a waitlist.

3,002 of the books are available without waiting: about 62%.

These are the subjects they list for fiction:

Historical Fiction(999)
Christian Fiction(220)
Science Fiction(185)
Short Stories(135)
Humor (Fiction)(105)
Erotic Literature(93)
African American Fiction(73)
Classic Literature(71)
Juvenile Fiction(34)
Urban Fiction(13)
Non-English Fiction(6)
Young Adult Fiction(5)
Science Fiction & Fantasy(4)
Chick Lit Fiction(3)
Comic and Graphic Books(3)
Travel Literature(2)
Young Adult Literature(2)
Foreign Language(1)

There are 1,566 non-fiction titles, in these 50 subjects:

Biography & Autobiography(592)
Religion & Spirituality(103)
Cooking & Food(80)
Family & Relationships(73)
Humor (Nonfiction)(73)
True Crime(72)
Performing Arts(68)
Health & Fitness(59)
Literary Criticism(36)
Computer Technology(29)
Sports & Recreations(28)
New Age(21)
Home Design & Décor(15)
African American Nonfiction(13)
Study Aids & Workbooks(13)
Women’s Studies(9)
Language Arts(8)
Self Help(5)

I think it’s great that people can get new and popular books (eventually) through the public library!

If you want to check out what your library has, you may want to go to


If you are okay with older books, Amazon itself has a lot.

What do you think? Do you borrow e-books from public libraries? What’s the longest you’ve waited for one? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

12 Responses to “E-books at my public library”

  1. John Aga Says:

    I rarely use my public library as a source of e-books. One exception is putting my name on the waiting list at my local public library for a Kindle e-book copy of Daniel Silva’s “The English Spy”. The current price of “The English Spy” in the Kindle store is $14.99. Too much in my mind. Therefore the race is on. Either the price drops below $10.00 and I buy it, or I finally obtain a library copy before then. If I obtain a library copy first then the author and publisher miss out on a sale.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, John!

      The author and publisher already made a sale, though…to the library. They charge a pretty penny for that licensing…

  2. Zebras Says:


    I use the library a lot for e-books. I haven’t kept track of the wait time for holds as I just trust the Overdrive system to notify me when its my turn. Our library doesn’t get super long wait lists. The city library serves 88,000 residents. However, whenever its my turn for a book on hold, I always seem to be in the middle of another borrowed book, which makes it hard to read the entirety by the return date.

    It’s interesting that in Connecticut, you can take your local library card to any public library around the state and borrow p-books, but you can only borrow e-books from your town’s library. My girlfriend was able to get a primary card from the town she works in to be allowed to also borrow e-books from them, but the town I work in wouldn’t extend that courtesy, because they felt the ability to borrow p-books was enough.

    I just looked up on Overdrive (and if I did this right) they have 5,200 kindle books and 4,800 are available! Seems horribly under utilized.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Zebras!

      Interesting information! 92% utilization sounds pretty good to me! A lot higher than p-books (paperbooks), I would say…

  3. Margaret Says:

    I agree completely with what you wrote about not borrowing ebooks. However, I DO constantly borrow audiobooks from the library, using both Overdrive and the newer, Hoopla. I’ve suggested (!) to Amazon that they develop a loaner program for audiobooks, since I don’t think I’m the only one who often feels compelled to order a paper copy of a book after I’ve listened to it. But since I don’t regard audio books as “keepers,” I’m NOT inclined to purchase the audio versions myself.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Margaret!

      Amazon could work something out for renting Audible or Brilliance audiobooks, since they own both of those. However, they would probably need to renegotiate the licenses with the authors/publishers.

      I doubt very many people listen to audiobook repeatedly, so that’s a good suggestion.

  4. Karen Says:

    I live in WA state and borrow ebooks all the time from our library system. They have just under 29,000 books so little wait. I can put a book on hold or choose the “available now” section and read something I might not have thought of that is not checked out.

  5. Zebras Says:


    You read it backwards. Its about 8% utilization. I just re-checked the overdrive system and its about the same as before. There could be a system glitch, as usually when I look at the newly added books, they are borrowed pretty quickly, and it seems like most of the most recently added books are currently available.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Zebras!

      Whoops! I shouldn’t have done that analysis that way, you are correct. Lots of commitment to work right now…

      However just because a book is available doesn’t mean it isn’t being utilized: it means it hasn’t maxed out the utilization, right? Let’s say the library has ten licenses for a given title. If eight of them are out right now, the book is being utilized by those eight people. It’s really more of an indicator that the library may have over purchased for the demand…or, perhaps, that the demand has faded since they purchased licenses…and the license term may not have expired.

      • Zebras Says:

        My library pretty much buys one licence per book. I’m very curious about these numbers now and will keep looking at them now.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Zebras!

        One license? Fascinating! So, for a super popular book, it seems like someone might often wait months to read it. If ten people want to read it, and they each have it for a week, that’s two and a half months…

        However, they have so many books! They must have bought an interesting package.

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