Library eBook Pledge

eBooks are a vitally important part of the 21st century knowledge landscape. They provide users of public, school, academic and research libraries with benefits not possible with paper books – from faster and more diverse methods of access to a more inclusive learning experience.

Why is it necessary?

Libraries have historically played a crucial role in enabling education, research, and broad access to culture. Yet their ability to deliver this is no longer guaranteed, in the face of changing media and business models.

Nonetheless, many publishers care deeply about the role of libraries in supporting research, education and learning. This Pledge offers a way for them to express their support and commitment to 21st century libraries, so they can provide meaningful preservation and access to ebooks for their readers.

Implementing the principles set out in this Pledge will serve to make eBook markets and the role of libraries sustainable now and in the future and so serves the public interest, complementing efforts to promote open access.

On top of the eBook Pledge, we are providing a draft model supplemental agreement designed to align with the principles of the eBook Pledge and designed to be added to contracts for eBooks. This Model Supplemental Agreement is conceived as an addendum to an existing eBook agreement between institutions (licensees) and publishers. The Supplemental Agreement is designed to be a starting point for institutions looking to augment their licences and contracts to establish more beneficial terms for both publishers and their institutional partners. While some institutions may use the agreement as written, it can be adapted to fit individual needs. While some institutions may use the agreement as written, it can be adapted to fit individual needs.

Without a stable eBook market, we risk libraries no longer being able to fulfill their core societal functions of:

The Pledge

Without affecting the right of a publisher to offer different eBook licensing models to libraries, we pledge:


To make all eBooks available to libraries to preserve and to lend to the public directly or via inter-library loan, as soon as they are available to the public.


To make all eBooks individually purchasable by libraries outside of bundles.


To make available to libraries pricing terms which are transparent and clearly differentiate between the cost of the eBook itself (Digital File), and any hosting and platform costs (Platform Costs). Where percentage-based models are the norm, this should comprise the percentage paid to the publisher and the percentage paid to the author, and the platform provider.


To offer pricing for the Digital File on a “one copy one user” basis that is the same or similar to the price of the paper copy of the book, where available.


To allow all registered users of the library to access eBooks onsite and off.


To grant libraries the right to receive and host the Digital File on their own platform in perpetuity if requested, and lend to their own patrons on a “one copy one user” model without incurring any Platform Costs. For the avoidance of doubt, unless agreed otherwise, a publisher shall no longer be responsible for or have any obligations to provide libraries with replacement digital files when they become corrupted and degraded, in the case of files being held on library servers.


To also offer a licence on fair and equitable terms that extends access beyond a “one copy one user” model.


To not withdraw titles during the subscription period, and with at least 12 months prior notice to both libraries and authors, unless required due to an unforeseen legal reason.


To offer contracts to libraries that respect limitations and exceptions for libraries and their users provided in national copyright law.


To allow libraries to develop and freely share catalogue records acquired as part of ebook purchases with other libraries.


To align any collection of data with library privacy policies, and share non-personal and/or anonymised usage data with libraries to support their own decision-making.


To provide authors with appropriate remuneration for the lending of their works by libraries.