Amazon reveals why it doesn’t sell the e-books and audiobooks it publishes to libraries

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Amazon does not sell its thousands of e-books or tens of thousands of audiobooks to libraries, The Washington Post reported.

The e-commerce giant has published books since 2009 under more than a dozen imprints spanning different genres, and it also owns Audible Studios, a major audiobook player. Publishers decide how to distribute works once a writer signs, which usually includes selling physical and digital copies to libraries for circulation to the public. Amazon, though, is the only major publisher that completely bypasses selling digital versions to libraries, according to The Washington Post.

“It’s not clear to us that current digital library lending models fairly balance the interests of authors and library patrons,” publisher at Amazon Publishing Mikyla Bruder told The Post. Libraries typically pay more than a private buyer for e-books — typically between $40 and $60, according to The Author’s Guild.

E-books bought by libraries also come with more restrictions than physical books, which can be loaned out repeatedly without say from the publisher. Digital copies come with either a limited period of time or a set limit of times it can be borrowed before it must be repurchased, The Guild says.

It’s difficult to state the exact loss for libraries and patrons. As of 2018, 90% of libraries offer digital loans. People in the US still rely on libraries. In 2015, there were 1.39 billion total library visits, according to the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

“In today’s rapidly changing information environment, public libraries are flexing and responding to their communities. We see this across indicators of resources, services, and usage. Our findings show robust use of reference services, the addition of more e-books and audiovisual materials to collections, and increased use of public access computers, for example,”  IMLS Director Kathryn K. Matthew said in a 2018 statement.

Amazon does sell physical copies of its book to libraries, except those like Mindy Kaling’s latest title, which are digital exclusives. While Amazon publishes few best sellers, six of its top ten e-books last year were Amazon titles, meaning they would be unavailable in libraries.

Amazon did not respond to Insider’s request for additional comment.

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