Why Do Library EBooks Expire?

Have you ever borrowed an ebook from the library and been shocked to find that it had expired before you had a chance to finish reading it? If so, you’re not alone. Many library patrons (even me) find it frustrating when their borrowed ebooks suddenly become inaccessible before their due date.

So why do library ebooks expire? 

Library ebooks automatically expire after a specific time to help libraries save money, encourage people to read more, eliminate old books, and make room for new ones. They also have to be constantly updated, so the expiry dates ensure patrons have access to the latest version of each book. 

Let’s learn more in the following guide about why ebooks expire.

Know More About Library ebooks & Their Expiration

Why Do Library EBooks Expire

Library ebooks are digital versions of books available to download or read on a device through a library website or app. Many libraries provide access to digital resources and offer ebooks as part of their collections. 

Anyone with a valid library card can access library ebooks, and the borrowing process is similar to that of a physical book. Libraries can also update their collection quickly and easily, ensuring readers have access to the latest titles.

“A total of 191 million ebooks were purchased by Americans in 2020. According to this data, publishers made $1.1 billion in revenue in 2020 (up 15% from last year).”

However, unlike physical books, library ebooks have a significant drawback: they expire. It means the reader will no longer be available to read after a certain period.

This expiration date is set by the publisher and can vary depending on the type of book or library policy. In most cases, the book will be automatically returned to the library once it has expired. 

Table Of Comparison Of Library ebooks And General ebooks

Library ebooks and available ebooks are both convenient digital ways to access books. The main difference is that library ebooks are only available for a specific time. They come with an expiration date, whereas available ebooks can be accessed indefinitely. 

Here is a table comparing library ebooks and available ebooks:


Library ebooks

General ebooks


Free for patrons with a library card

Typically purchased


Limited copies available for borrowing

Unlimited copies available for purchase

Borrowing period

Limited borrowing period set by the library

Unlimited access for the duration of ownership

Supported devices

May vary by library and ebook platform

Typically available on any device that supports the ebook format


Automatically returned at end of borrowing period

Must be manually deleted or returned (if applicable)

Accessibility for patrons with disabilities

May offer additional accessibility features such as larger text or audio narration

May not offer additional accessibility features

Please note that this is a general comparison and specific features and availability may vary by library and ebook platform.

4 Reasons Why Library Ebooks Expire

Why Do Library EBooks Expire

Library ebooks are subject to expiry because libraries are trying to save money and encourage people to read more. Libraries want to ensure they can get rid of old books and make room for new ones. 

Libraries Want To Save Money

One of the main reasons why library ebooks expire is because libraries are looking to save money. By implementing an expiration date on library ebooks, libraries can reduce costs by buying fewer books. 

Library ebooks also help libraries save on overhead costs. It means they can purchase more books and offer more titles at a lower cost to the consumer. The costs include buying physical copies of books and shipping them.

As well as saving money, libraries can make sure that the resources they provide are available to more people by making them available for a limited period.

Libraries Want To Encourage People To Read More

Libraries understand that reading can be both educational and enjoyable. Allowing people to borrow ebooks encourages more homework in their communities. Expiration dates on library ebooks help to accomplish this goal. 

They ensure that books are returned so new books can be borrowed, giving readers the incentive to keep reading. It encourages readers to finish books and move on to new ones, expanding their knowledge and keeping them engaged in reading. 

Libraries hope that by providing access to ebooks and setting expiration dates, they will inspire readers of all ages to read more.

Libraries Want To Get Rid Of Old Books

One of the main reasons that libraries often have expiration dates on their ebooks is to get rid of old books. ebooks are digital, meaning they take up less physical space than traditional paper books. 

Libraries need to make room for new titles, and getting rid of old ebooks helps with that. It’s more efficient for libraries to delete old ebooks than to store them in physical spaces. 

By getting rid of older ebooks, libraries can keep up with the latest trends in literature and provide patrons with access to the newest titles as soon as they become available. It ensures that library users get the best information possible and stay current with the most recent titles. 

Expiring ebooks also help promote using physical books in the library. It encourages people to visit the library more frequently and browse through physical books to find something that interests them. Because ebooks expire, people may be more likely to check out physical copies instead. 

Libraries Want To Make Room For New Books

One reason library ebooks expire is that libraries want to make room for new books. With the ever-evolving digital landscape, libraries need to keep up with the times and offer the latest and greatest in their collections. 

Unfortunately, this means that they must also remove outdated titles. By allowing library ebooks to expire, libraries can make space for new titles that patrons may be more interested in. 

Overall, libraries want to make room for new books by allowing library ebooks to expire. It helps them save money, encourages people to read more, and gets rid of old books that may not be as relevant anymore. 

By making room for new books, libraries can stay up-to-date with the changing landscape and give patrons access to the most exciting and relevant titles.


Ebooks are becoming increasingly popular for libraries, allowing them to reach more people with limited space and fewer resources. They enable readers to access a more comprehensive selection of titles without buying a physical copy.

Library ebooks can expire after a period, because of many reasons. This can include saving space, making room for new collections, or encouraging people to read more. So, make sure to read your ebook before it expires!

Hassan Shahzad

I am Hassan! (Book Lover) at Books Rookie; we (like-minded book readers) share our knowledge of books/digital books with our readers.

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