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Approaches differ among publishers

Users of library e-books might not find the most recent best-sellers they want to download.

For example, of the top popular fiction print books at the Allen County Public Library – “Calico Joe” by John Grisham and “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E.L. James – only the latter is available as an e-book, according to Kathy Witwer, adult bibliographer at the library.

The library has 20 e-book copies of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” with 364 people on a waiting list to borrow the book, Witwer said. There are about 60 copies of the print book at the library, which also has about 300 people on a waiting list.

The library gets a 41 percent discount off the list price on physical books and will often buy 50 or 60 copies of popular books, Witwer said.

While Knopf Doubleday, a division of Random House and publisher of John Grisham’s books, sells e-books to libraries, it often holds new releases for up to six months, as is the case with “Calico Joe,” Witwer said.

One breakthrough in the conflict is J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series, which, through negotiations with Overdrive this year, offers public libraries a five-year license with unlimited use of the e-book versions.