An official website of Arlington County Government

About Library eBooks and eAudiobooks


How are Library eBooks different from the ones I buy?

There are three important differences:

  1. DRM: Library eBooks and eAudiobooks include a special digital rights management (DRM) license, so that they can be lent out for a limited period of time.
  2. Access: The Library uses third-party vendors to help manage eBook and eAudiobook lending. This means you can access these items through your regular Library account, as well your eAccounts and the vendors’ mobile apps.
  3. Cost: Most publishers set different rules for library eBooks. Some charge higher prices to libraries, some limit the number of times a book can be lent, and some provide access on a subscription rather than ownership basis.


Why are all the eBooks I want to read checked out?

Doesn’t electronic mean limitless availability?

Most publishers sell eBook and eAudiobook titles by the copy, just like with printed copies. So while we try to buy more copies of very popular books, sometimes you’ll still have to put them on hold – just like with print books.


Why doesn’t the Library have every popular new book in eBook and eAudiobook form?

Not all publishers make the eBook or eAudiobook versions of popular titles available to libraries at the same time that the print versions are published. And sometimes the eBook version is not released simultaneously with the printed book.


Why don’t you have eBook and eAudiobook versions of all the titles in a series?

Often, early books in series – especially one that began many years ago – are not yet available digitally. Luckily, as interest in eBooks has increased, many publishers are going back to secure the digital rights for previously published works, and are making those available for purchase to both us and you.


How often does the Library add new eBooks?

New titles are purchased weekly.


Is there a charge to use Library eBooks and eAudiobooks?

No – All titles in the our collection are available for free with an Arlington Public Library card.


How does the Library decide which eBooks and eAudiobooks to buy?

The Library’s eBook and eAudiobook collection is designed to appeal to a wide range of reading interests. As with print books, bestsellers and other newly published works are most in demand. The Library monitors demand through the number of holds for an item, and purchases additional copies as needed to reduce wait times.

In addition to fiction and nonfiction bestsellers, other popular genres include career success, self-help, mysteries, romance and series for children and teens.

The Library welcomes suggestions for titles through our online Materials Purchase Suggestion form.


Can I donate digital books to the Library?

No. While we would love to accept digital format donations, most eBook and eAudiobooks are not transferable due to licensing restrictions.

If you would like to donate to the Library’s eCollection, please consider making a cash donation to the Friends of the Arlington Public Library, marked specifically for the purchase of eBooks.


What devices work with the Library’s eBooks and eAudiobooks?

eBooks work with everything from PCs and Macs to eReaders, tablets and smartphones. eAudiobooks, which come in two formats (WMA and MP3), also work with a variety of devices.