An eBook library, sometimes called an eLibrary, is a collection of electronic books. Similar to a library made of physical books, an eBook library can exist as a person’s own collection of electronic texts or as a public library that allows users to borrow electronic versions of books for a period of time. EBooks can be read on a number of electronic readers, or they can be viewed as digital downloads on a computer.
Electronic readers can store electronic books and serve as an eBook library. These books, though they do not exist in a physical sense, are the property of the person who has purchased them. The digital format has also allowed private book collectors to leave their eBook libraries on the Internet, where they can re-download their books whenever they want.
The popularity of digital books has had an effect on the public library system as well. Many libraries now have an eBook library in addition to the physical books they have available. People with library cards can borrow digital books from their public libraries by downloading them onto many different eReaders or to their personal computers. Usually, people are able to borrow eBooks for a period of two or three weeks, just as they would borrow a physical book. After that time, the book file typically becomes unusable, though it can be checked out again.
Public libraries that participate in eBook lending purchase licenses for the books, forcing them to treat an eBook as they would a physical book. A library can purchase a number of licenses, which correspond to the number of eBooks they can lend out at a time. Though they cannot offer an unlimited number of eBooks to the public, most people do not know of electronic lending practices, which means that waits for popular books may be shorter when borrowing an electronic book.
Early eBooks were usually intended for small audiences of readers and included only niche genres. Historically, traditional publishing houses have not embraced eBooks as a legitimate form of publishing, though this attitude has changed with the popularity of eBook readers. Publication in electronic format is now mainstream, and many new books are released simultaneously in physical and digital formats. The low cost of publishing an eBook has also made it an economically viable option for authors wishing to self-publish.