About the Exchange

What is the DPLA Exchange?

The DPLA Exchange (exchange.dp.la) is a marketplace in which libraries can acquire ebooks offered by the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). Libraries can purchase popular ebooks and other e-content to serve to their patrons. Libraries can also select and acquire thousands of openly-licensed works for free. The DPLA Exchange is currently wrapping up its pilot phase and is seeking additional member libraries.

How does the DPLA Exchange work?

The DPLA Exchange is one piece of an emerging national digital platform for library e-content service based on open architecture and connected by the Open Publication Distribution System (OPDS). With the other two components, the Library Simplified content management system and the SimplyE apps – both open source and developed by the New York Public Library – libraries can now serve their ebooks more seamlessly using technology they own.

Can individuals buy books from the DPLA Exchange?

No. The DPLA Exchange is a marketplace for libraries only. The e-content licenses offered are not relevant or appropriate for an individual. The license includes digital lending rights (the right to lend the title to more than one person) and as a result are generally more expensive than retail ebooks meant for individual purchase and consumption.

For Libraries

Can any library buy books from the DPLA Exchange?

Yes. There are two components to purchasing from the DPLA Exchange content marketplace:

  1. Become a member library – In order to purchase content from the DPLA Exchange, libraries must become a DPLA Cultural Services member. There are no membership fees required. Once set up, libraries can shop and buy e-content, which will be delivered through an Open Publication Distribution System (OPDS) feed.
  2. Implement Library Simplified software – DPLA Exchange is one of three parts of a national digital platform, along with Library Simplified circulation manager and SimplyE iOS and Android apps. In order to serve content purchased in the DPLA Exchange, a library will also need to implement Library Simplified/SimplyE. Our partner LYRASIS offers a fully hosted deployment of the Library Simplified software.

Is this a pilot? Can my library join?

DPLA Exchange launched with a diverse group of pilot libraries: Alameda County Library (CA); Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (PA); Connecticut State Library (CT); Califa Library Group (CA, KS); St. Mary’s County Library (MD), and Yavapai Library Network (AZ). After a successful preliminary period working with these selected libraries, DPLA has opened up the DPLA Exchange to more institutions. Learn how to join the DPLA Exchange.

Can the DPLA Exchange serve audiobooks?

Audiobook (MP3) support is in the works and we anticipate adding audiobooks from major publishers by 2019.

What does the license information listed with each title mean?

Each title includes three pieces of information: price per license, format, and license type. The license type describes the library lending terms available for that book. For example, some publishers allow libraries to purchase “1 at a time” titles that never expire but can be lent to only one user at a time. Other publishers offer different license types, for example: licenses that allow the library to lend the item 26 times before it expires; licenses that allow the lesser of 52 lends or two years; or time-bound licenses good for 6,12 or 24 months.

Why are the prices on some books high – much higher than the price for retail sales?

Libraries can not buy ebooks in the same way and at the same price that individual consumers can. Unlike with print books, which are governed by copyright and for which the first sale doctrine allows libraries to buy books at the same price as everyone else and lend them, ebooks are really licenses and libraries have to buy different, often much more expensive licenses in order to lend ebooks to patrons.


How will libraries serve books they purchased in the DPLA Exchange?

The DPLA Exchange is one of three parts of an open, interoperable, library-centric national digital platform DPLA is helping to create. DPLA has launched a service with our new strategic partners LYRASIS to host instances of the open source Library Simplified middleware solution for libraries. This will allow libraries to merge ebooks from the DPLA Exchange and other sources into a seamless discovery experience for patrons. This solution also provides library staff an administrative interface to manage and curate the collection, which users will find and read primarily in the SimplyE iOS and Android apps. Together the DPLA Exchange, Library Simplified middleware and SimplyE Apps provide a complete the digital platform to enable wholly library-based delivery of e-content for the first time.

What is Open Publication Distribution System (OPDS)?

OPDS is a simple, elegant syndication format based on Atom and HTTP. It allows libraries to use a standard protocol for the aggregation, distribution, discovery, and acquisition of electronic publications. We believe helping US libraries move to OPDS-based distribution could greatly expand access by enabling libraries to select and integrate various interoperable parts of their technology systems to meet their users needs.

What is Open Distribution for Libraries (ODL)?

ODL is an enhanced version of OPDS that allows the library more visibility into and control over the e-content they purchase. ODL provides the librarian information about the exact type of licenses held. For example, one title may have a license for 26 lends, with 22 remaining, while another title may have a license for one year with two months left. Information about the licenses a library owns is available and actionable through ODL. ODL also offers information about and control over the holds queue. We hope that as this work moves forward the Library Simplified system will be enhanced to support ODL so that US libraries can optimize their purchasing and holds (as European libraries using ODL already can) to maximize access to their e-content collections.

About DPLA Ebooks

How is this related to the Open eBooks initiative?

DPLA is a proud partner on Open eBooks, an app containing thousands of popular and award-winning titles that are free for children from in-need households. We join a coalition of literacy, library, technology and publishing partners in helping build a love of reading. Both Open eBooks and the DPLA Exchange are two of a growing number of ebook projects DPLA is proud to help lead.

How can I learn more about DPLA’s eBook work?

Stay in the loop by subscribing to our mailing list. You can find past information on our work through DPLA News.

What if my question was not answered here?

Contact us.