Librarians have trouble just buying and loading eBooks into patrons' devices for two reasons.
- U.S. librarians follow U.S. copyright laws. The "First Sale Doctrine" in U.S. copyright law allows librarians to buy a print book and lend that copy repeatedly.
This is very generous to U.S. libraries compared to other countries. Copyright laws in fifty-one countries reserve for authors the "Public Lending Rights" of their books. However, only 29 countries have actual systems in place paying authors to allow public libraries to lend their books. During 2009, for example, the Canadian Public Lending Rights Commission distributed $9,938,089 to 17,058 Canadian authors for libraries lending 68,287 titles. Annual payment per title ranged from $209.16 to $348.60 depending on number of years titles are registered with the PLR Commission.U.S. copyright law does not allow librarians to make additional copies without permission. Copying an eBook from a library computer onto a patron's eReader would be making a second copy.
- eBook copyrights can be enforced with software called Digital Rights Management (Digital Restrictions Management) or DRM. DRM software controls eBook uses like downloading, copying, modifying the text, amount of text that can be viewed under varying conditions, lending from one computer or eReader to another computer or eReader, printing, computer reading the text aloud, etc.
- Overdrive eBooks are in one of three formats: PDF, EPUB and Mobipocket.
- Amazon's Kindle can handle the following formats: PDF, Mobipocket and TXT.
- Overdrive's PDF eBooks cannot be loaded into Kindles because Kindles will not accept Overdrive's Adobe DRM software.