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This bibliographic essay examines the difficulties associated with the selection, licensing, acquisition, and management of e-books in academic libraries. The potential advantages of e-book technology are likely to be realized only to the extent that they advance the economic goals of e-book suppliers and are consistent with the legal framework that has been negotiated by publishers, vendors, libraries, and readers. Many difficulties can be traced to a lack of uniformity in license terms, access restrictions, and librarians’ expectations. Likewise, sustainable access to e-books is hindered by impermanent physical media, proprietary file formats and software, and restrictive license provisions. Although the goals of e-book providers are sometimes inconsistent with those of universities, librarians are well-positioned to guide vendors in the development of e-book licenses and platforms.