The Washington Post explores the myriad complexities of e-book lending through libraries. For full context, it would be best to read the article in full. But one key take out is that, in general, the library pays every time a patron borrows an ebook.
BookBrowse spoke to a rep from Overdrive a few weeks ago who said that, roughly speaking, libraries can be paying anywhere up to $3 to $4 every time an ebook is loaned out. So, if you have been checking out lots of ebooks on the off chance you might read them thinking it’s not costing the library anything, you should read this article!
“….A library typically pays between $40 and $60 to license a new e-book adult title, which it can then loan out to one patron at a time, mimicking how physical loans work. Each publisher offers different payment models. Under one, a library only has an e-book for two years or 52 checkouts, whichever comes first. Another agreement covers 26 checkouts per book.”