LETTER: Wilton Library Staff, Trustees Urge CT Lawmakers to Support Bill Making Digital Books More Affordable for Libraries

To the Editor:

We are writing to vocalize our support for S.B. 131, An Act Concerning Electronic Book Licensing, which was recently introduced in the Connecticut General Assembly. This bill would ensure equitable access and fair pricing terms for eBooks and eAudiobooks for Connecticut libraries.

Wilton residents have been enjoying eBooks and eAudiobooks since the library began offering them in 2010. During the pandemic, demand for digital materials exploded. The number of eBooks and eAudiobooks checked out by Wilton residents increased by 48% and the number of Wilton residents who checked out these items increased by 35% from 2020 to 2021. We at Wilton Library aim to be fiscally efficient while delivering the best resources to our community.

Currently, libraries pay on average six times what consumers pay for the same eBook. For example, a Kindle user can purchase the eBook The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid for $15 on Amazon and own the book in perpetuity. However, the library must pay $60 for a two-year license of this eBook. This means only one person at a time may borrow this eBook and the book will disappear from our digital collection two years after the purchase date. There are currently 56 Wilton residents waiting for our copy of this particular eBook. Libraries are able to negotiate favorable terms for prices on print books and media items. The same should be true of eBooks.

We serve as the cultural and intellectual center of Wilton and strive to inform, enrich, connect, and inspire our community. Our Board of Trustees finds that it is now time to adjust the models established by the publishing industry and restore a better balance between libraries and publishers. We are asking for the help of Connecticut lawmakers. Bill S.B. 131 would allow libraries to negotiate for better terms for digital collections, which in turn would result in our readers having increased access to eBooks and eAudiobooks.

Wilton Library Staff & Board of Trustees