ProQuest today announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire Coutts Information Services from Ingram Content Group, including the MyiLibrary platform and the Online Acquisitions and Selection Information System (OASIS). Coutts employees will be invited to join ProQuest, with leadership reporting to Kevin Sayar, SVP and general manager, ProQuest Ebooks. ProQuest will take over management and ownership of the company’s offices and facilities in Ringwood, UK and Nijhoff, Netherlands. Other terms of the acquisition, expected to close within weeks, were not disclosed.
In a blog post, ProQuest CEO Kurt Sanford described the acquisition as a continuation of the company’s efforts “to strengthen the ebook marketplace by assembling a rich mix of talent, technology and content,” which began with the company’s acquisition of ebrary in January 2011, and the acquisition of Ebook Library (EBL) in January 2013. Sayar, who co-founded ebrary, oversees the combined ebook division created by these acquisitions.
“Today, we’re announcing the next step,” Sanford wrote. “We’re expanding our solutions and expertise in ebooks to print, delivering improved productivity for our customers and a better research experience. We’ll assume ownership and management of Coutts and MyiLibrary, with its extraordinary catalog of print and e content, and form a strategic partnership with Ingram for print fulfillment,” including access to Ingram’s on-demand print capabilities and comprehensive delivery network in North America.
In a conversation with LJ, Sanford added that “one of the things that Coutts and MyiLibrary has struggled with is distribution. They don’t have the resources to cover some of the markets they are in the same way that we can. So we’re able to bring our scale and their solutions—along with ones we already have—to customers…. Ingram is a very, very big enterprise with many, many markets, but academic [libraries] are not one of the biggest things they do. So I think this is a good fit for [the Coutts] team.”
In addition to augmenting ProQuest’s selection of ebooks with MyiLibrary’s 250,000 titles, a larger plan involves leveraging Coutts’ collection-building expertise, approval support, and ordering tools to begin developing a fully integrated service that streamlines the acquisition and fulfillment of print and electronic content together.
“Librarians will have flexibility to build dynamic collections that meet the unique needs of their community of researchers with support from DDA, approval plans, subscriptions, as well electronic ordering and invoicing,” Sanford wrote.
Sayar elaborated, explaining to LJ that “workflow, in particular, has been a priority from a strategic standpoint for ProQuest, and this acquisition gives us the ability to address some of the pain points, specifically the workflow around acquiring print and electronic books….. Books are unique in terms of the content format and the challenges they create for libraries in order to be able to acquire the right books at the right time and get them to the right users. That dynamic environment has been accelerated with ebooks.”
Two years ago, the acquisition of EBL enabled ProQuest to bring onboard a team that had pioneered new acquisition and licensing models for ebooks, such as patron driven acquisition, short term loans, and chapter-level purchasing. Now, the acquisition of Coutts will bring in experts who have worked with the market’s longest-running approval program.
“It’s the creative power of bringing these folks together with the common goal of creating the next generation system that we’ve been talking about,” Sayar said.
That system, the ProQuest Ebook Central platform, which combines key elements of the ebrary and EBL platforms with new functionality, is still scheduled for a mid-2015 launch.
A ProQuest announcement emphasized that the acquisition will not impact the company’s other strategic partnerships or ebook initiatives already in place. And Sanford wrote that ProQuest will also seek to maintain partnerships with companies including YBP, OCLC, Ex Libris, Google Scholar, and others.
“Since Ingram acquired Coutts in 2006, we’ve invested in the people, technology and services to support and promote the advancement of academic and professional libraries. ProQuest is the perfect home for the ideas, tools and talent of Coutts to continue growing and innovating to better serve this market,” John Ingram, chairman and CEO of Ingram Content Group, said in a statement. “ProQuest is very strong in digital services, and we’re excited to team up with them to create the best, full-service package for the academic library market.”