Canada’s Public Libraries Call for Fair Digital Pricing with a National eBook Club

The 2023 selection for Un livrel/One eRead Canada is Tatouine by Jean-Christophe Réhel

Libraries announce ebook access campaign for April

Canadian Urban Libraries Council (CULC) is inviting readers from coast to coast to coast to join the country’s largest bilingual digital book club and raise awareness of the need for fair access to digital books and audiobooks. As of April 1, until April 30, over a thousand public libraries will participate in One eRead Canada, a nation-wide campaign offering access to one book for one month and with zero waitlists.

"Books are an essential means of connecting and understanding the world around us,” says Åsa Kachan, current CULC Chair. “The importance of equitable access to digital books and audiobooks has never been as evident as it has through this pandemic. We’ve seen demand skyrocket, yet exorbitant costs for eBooks prevent public libraries from meeting the demand.”

CULC reports that restrictive costs, licensing, and availability of content prevent public libraries from providing adequate access to the volume and variety of sought-after titles, including the diverse voices emerging across the literary landscape. One eRead Canada demonstrates what less restricted access could provide, including a shared experience and connection during difficult and isolating times, such as a pandemic.

This year’s One eRead selection, Tatouine by Quebec native Jean-Christophe Réhel, is expected to resonate with readers recovering from social isolation. The novel’s protagonist feels disconnected from people and the world around him. The reader is brought along as he recounts his experience living with a genetic disease, his financial hardships as he cycles through a series of unfulfilling jobs, and the highs and lows of family and romantic relationships. In response, he turns to Star Wars and other pop culture diversions to relate to and to escape from his surroundings. Tatouine is relatable and imaginative, capturing the struggles and small triumphs of the daily grind and modern existence with humour and a poetic rhythm.

“This is an extremely powerful and often hilarious story of one man’s journey living through the ups and downs brought on by self-isolation. Having lived through the pandemic, Tatouine is a book many Canadians will surely relate to,” says Leslie Weir, the Librarian and Archivist of Canada. “I applaud One eRead for having chosen this book available in French and English. A national bilingual book club is the most fitting expression of our drive for more equitable access.”

Tatouine will be available for free to download in eBook and eAudiobook formats on local libraries’ digital platforms in both the original French and translated English languages. An accessible version will be made available through the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) and the National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS). There will be no waitlists; only a library card is needed from one of the participating libraries across Canada.

Readers are also invited to look for announcements of upcoming virtual events, such as interviews with the author and translators, and a library-hosted podcast about Tatouine. Visit for dates and follow along on the One eRead Canada Book Club Facebook group for updates.

About Un Livrel/One eRead Canada

One eRead Canada is an annual digital, bilingual, cross-Canada book club initiated and supported by the Canadian Urban Libraries Council (CULC) to help Canadian public libraries promote digital reading awareness and issues. The program was started in 2019 and has previously featured Glass Beads by Dawn Dumont (2019), Vi by Kim Thúy (2020), and The Break by Katherena Vermette (2022). It features a title with no waitlists for one month, in both French and English via eBook and eAudiobook formats for a bilingual reading or listening experience. Readers are invited to share their experience through the national Facebook Group and via related events hosted locally and nationally throughout the month.

About Canadian Urban Libraries Council (CULC) / Conseil des Bibliothèques Urbaines du Canada (CBUC)

The Canadian Urban Libraries Council was formed in 2008, formalizing groups whom had met for more than 25 years to better library service in Canada’s populated urban areas. CULC has members from the 51 largest public library systems in Canada, along with Library and Archives Canada and the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec. CULC’s mission is to facilitate advocacy, collaboration, and research that strengthens and promotes the value of Canada’s urban libraries as integral to a vibrant democracy, a strong economy, and thriving communities. More than 75% of all Canadians are served by a CULC member library, whose activities comprise more than 80% of Canada’s public library total.

Learn more about the book club.