New library ebook service launched – Freading

Library Ideas launched a new ebook service for libraries Friday at the ALA Conference in New Orleans.

Freading is a pay-per-use system, and it’s launching with 20 thousand titles from over a dozen publishers. Unlike OverDrive or Axis 360, Freading allows for an unlimited number of simultaneous users, but it also charges between 50 cents and $2 for each checkout (renewals cost less).

The ebooks are lent for a 2 week period, and the ebooks are encumbered with Adobe DE DRM.

It goes into beta this summer for 10 libraries, including Orange County Public Library System (FL), the Free Library of Philadelphia, Maricopa County Library District (AZ), Los Gatos Public Library (CA), and the Westport Public Library (CT). Not all of the participating publishers have been announced, but the ones that have include Sterling Publishing, Sourcebooks, Andrews McMeel, and Regnery Publishing.

via Library Journal

Nate Hoffelder

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Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. yuzutea25 June, 2011

    Unless they pass the costs down to the patrons, isn’t this going to become seriously expensive for the libraries? As a library user, I’d be ok with paying 50 cents to rent a backlist ebook, though.

    1. Nate Hoffelder25 June, 2011

      That’s what I was thinking, yes.

      BTW, here’s a blog post about a similar service from the same company. Sarah eventually concluded that it was simply too expensive.

  2. Mike Cane25 June, 2011

    That won’t fly unless offered as an overflow option: “Sorry, that book is checked out. Would you like to rent a copy immediately?”

    A bad precedent. Why offer it through libraries? Make it direct to consumers.

  3. Erica27 June, 2011

    It’s an interesting concept, but I wonder how popular it would be. 50¢-$2 is still something compared to free. I’m also inclined to think that those that can afford an ereader are more likely to be able to afford the $5-$10 to own the book.

    Maybe a subscription? $20/year gets you ebook access? Or until it’s practically free, I guess I don’t see it being very successful. Part of the glory of ebooks is the instant gratification – buy, download, read.

    Looking forward to seeing the outcome though!

    1. Nate Hoffelder27 June, 2011

      The libraries would be charged, not the patrons. But it is expensive, yes.

  4. HB8 July, 2011

    What you are missing is that the library is able to limit the # of books that patrons can check out per week—this is a “throttle” on costs

  5. Amy30 July, 2011

    That’s really not much of a “throttle”, considering the number of patrons libraries have. This doesn’t make much sense in the library model – the more people who download a title, the more expensive it is for the library. That’s the opposite of our typical lending model, and not very sustainable.

  6. Mary12 August, 2011

    I have heard no mention of which publishers are on board. Does anyone know?

  7. Sue8 November, 2011

    It could be expensive, true, but for small libraries it’s far less expensive than the big name vendor’s. To equate the cost to Overdrive – my library would have to circulate 4000 top of the line books a year and then the book purchases would be additional expense. 3M’s system? I’d have to circulate 10k e-books plus buy the books I don’t think my 4000 patron’s are going to do this.

  8. […] was at PLA 2012 this week, and they had their 2 pay-per-use services on display.Freading initially caught my eye because it’s not your usual library ebook service. Rather than sell titles, Freading  lets […]

  9. Marilyn9 April, 2014

    How do I find my user name and password if I have forgotten them?

  10. […] initially caught my eye because it's not your usual library ebook service. Rather than sell titles, Freading lets libraries […]

  11. […] has been offering this service since 2012 (today is actually the 6th anniversary of the announcement). Hoopla got into this market three […]


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