A Note About eBooks and Privacy

There is a rising kerfluffle in the Internet about the newest version of Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) sending user information to Adobe. This particular “scandal” pertains to patrons who download EPUB formatted books to black and white readers. Patrons should be aware, however, that personal reading information is transmitted to non-library entities no matter what method is used to borrow eBooks. It is in the nature of the beast.

If you think about it, how does your device know when the two week lending period is up? It knows because it is talking back and forth to the parent organization: Adobe in the case of EPUB books and Amazon for Kindle books. This is further complicated by the different sale terms imposed by different publishers. Some publishers will only license 26 checkouts. Some only allow one year or 26 checkouts, whichever comes first. Books borrowed via Total Boox (which doesn’t use ADE) have to keep track of the actual pages you’ve read because the publisher is only paid on a per page basis.

Our major eBook provider, Overdrive, has released a statement about this issue with links to other relevant sites and to Overdrive’s privacy policies. It makes for interesting reading. If you have questions or concerns, please contact Reference Librarian Liam Hegarty, whegarty@wlsmail.org.