Canadian Public Libraries Call on Multinational Publishers to Make More Content Available

January 14, 2019 | Media Relations

Comments (0)

Lack of Availability, High Prices Stand in the Way of Open, Easy Access to eBooks and eAudiobooks for Canadian Readers at Public Libraries

Wondering why more eBooks and eAudiobooks aren’t available to borrow? So are Canadian public libraries.

Demand for eAudiobooks is skyrocketing, but major multinational publishers aren’t making a number of best-selling titles available to Canadian public libraries, including some prominent Canadian and Indigenous works.


Another issue is excessively high prices and restrictive purchasing models for eAudiobooks and eBooks. Libraries lend digital copies just like physical books – on a one-to-one basis. But the prices public libraries pay for digital copies are exponentially higher.


“Public libraries are crucial to a vibrant publishing industry. We introduce Canadians to new titles and authors. We have significant purchasing power. These challenges are jeopardizing our ability to provide universal access to content in all its forms, including those who may not be able to visit a library branch or read print materials due to illness or disability,” said Vickery Bowles, City Librarian, Toronto Public Library. “We know Canadians love their libraries and care deeply about these issues, and are asking everyone to help us get this message across to major multinational publishers.”

The Canadian Urban Libraries Council is asking Canadians to help resolve these issues by demanding stronger #eContentForLibraries of major multinational publishers: Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster.


Fast facts

  • Digital content is the fastest growing area of borrowing for public libraries. Spending by Canada’s largest urban libraries increased by more than 45% since 2014 and continues to grow.
  • eAudiobook sales are increasing by double digits each year and, in the last three years, use at six of the largest Canadian public libraries grew by 82%
  • Overdrive, the leading provider of eBooks and eAudiobooks to libraries, reported a 24% increase in eAudiobook circulation in Canadian libraries from 2016 to 2017 alone


Toronto Public Library is the world's busiest urban public library system. Last year, we had 17 million visits to our branches and 27 million virtual visits. Torontonians borrowed 30 million items in branches and online. To learn more, visit, call Answerline at 416-393-7131 or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to email updates.

For more information, please contact:

Ana-Maria Critchley Manager, Stakeholder Relations

Toronto Public Library

[email protected]