Free e-books from Danish public libraries are a smashing hit

More than one million e-books are expected to be streamed by readers by the end of this year

Users of public libraries in Denmark can download a limited number of e-books every month for free (photo: iStock) Users of public libraries in Denmark can download a limited number of e-books every month for free (photo: iStock)
November 9th, 2015 8:25 am| by Lucie Rychla
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The number of e-books borrowed for free from Danish public libraries has broken new records, reports DR.

While last year, readers borrowed some 598,168 electronic books, this year the number will almost double as users are expected to stream 1,161,306 e-books through the online portal eReolen.

Every month, users can borrow up to three e-books for free, which can be read on a computer, tablet or a phone.


The library then pays a fixed price of 10-14 kroner for each download to the publisher and author of the book.

Publishers call it anti-competitive
Some publishers have, however, criticised the possibility to stream e-books for free as unfair and anti-competitive.

“It’s really hard to explain to people why they should come to our website and pay 100 kroner for an e-book, if they can go to another site and get it for free,” Lene Juul, the managing director at JP/Politikens Forlag, told DR.

Jakob Heide Petersen – the head of Copenhagen’s main library, who is the chair of eReolen – believes the libraries have listened to the publishers and excluded, for instance, newly-released and very popular books from their list.

“I think it’s a great success that we have managed to get children and young people to read, and that we are providing e-books to those who would not normally read,” commented Petersen.

Despite the increased popularity of e-books, traditional paper books are still leading the way with 27 million books lent out last year.