This article has been updated to include information on Trajectory’s new deal with Image Comics and Recorded Books, iVerse, and Boopsie’s plan to expand Comics Plus: Library Edition.
The American Library Association’s (ALA) annual conference produced a crop of comics news, beginning with the Comic Book Club Handbook, a new resource produced by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) in collaboration with Comic-Con International, with the assistance of Erwin Magbanua of the San Diego Public Library and illustrated by cartoonist Rick Geary. Designed for retailers and individuals as well as librarians, it explains how—and why—to create a graphic novel book club. Print copies were distributed at the CBLDF booth; for those who missed it, a free download is available at www.cbldf.org (or if you’re lucky enough to be going to Comic Con International in San Diego this July, you can snag one there as well).
In addition, the third annual Will Eisner Graphic Novel Grants for Libraries, funded by the Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation and administered by ALA’s Games and Gaming Round Table and the Graphic Novels & Comics in Libraries Member Initiative Group, were awarded at the conference.
The 2015 Will Eisner Graphic Novel Growth Grant was awarded to Yuma High School Library, Yuma, AZ. Its current graphic novel selection is only 2.69 percent of its collection, yet it accounts for 31.76 percent of its circulation. The library’s project—”Improving Literacy and Enriching Lives”—will expand its graphic novel collection. The 2015 Will Eisner Graphic Novel Innovation Grant was presented to Bellmore Memorial Library, Bellmore, NY, for its project “Picture Yourself: Using Graphic Novels to Explore the People and Perceptions of Bellmore.” The project aims to connect the library with a diverse local audience and document life in the town through book clubs, graphic novel workshops, and the opportunity for patrons to write and illustrate their own Bellmore stories.
Each of the grants awards the winning libraries with a $2,000 voucher to purchase graphic novels from the distributor-partner Diamond Book Distributors, $1,000 to host a graphic novel-themed event, and a $1,000 stipend to attend the conference, plus a collection of Will Eisner’s work and biographies and copies of the graphic novels nominated for this year’s Will Eisner Awards at San Diego Comic-Con.
Meanwhile, in the runup to the conference, DC Comics announced that for the first time it would allow its titles to circulate via a digital library platform. As of June 25, Midwest Tape’s hoopla now hosts 25 top DC titles for reading through its Action View, which debuted in late May, including Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen, Superman: Earth One, V for Vendetta, and Wonder Woman, Vol. 1, Blood. Hoopla will add additional titles every week, up to 200 over the course of the summer. The DC titles join comics from other publishers available to libraries digitally through hoopla, Freading, OverDrive, BiblioBoard, Boopsie, Baker & Taylor’s Axis 360 platform, iVerse Media’s Comics Plus: Library Edition, and more.
Speaking of Comics Plus: Library Edition (CP:LE), the week before the conference, Recorded Books and iVerse Media inked a partnership agreement giving Recorded Books’ international sales team the exclusive right to sell CP:LE to public libraries in the United States and Canada. Recorded Books partnered with Boopsie to utilize Boopsie’s new AccessILS platform to scale sales and deployment of iVerse Media’s digital catalog of comics and graphic novels and integrate with libraries’ existing Integrated Library Systems (ILS). Libraries also have the option of offering CP:LE via a desktop browser and a library-branded mobile app. Recorded Books demonstrated the new Comics Plus platform at the conference.
Shortly before the conference opened, ebook distribution network Trajectory Inc. and Image Comics—whose well-known titles include Spawn, The Walking Dead, and Saga—also announced a global digital distribution agreement, allowing Image Comics to further expand its global digital footprint to libraries in North America and internationally, including the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, India, and South American markets. Through Trajectory’s single on-boarding site, publishers upload files and designate where they would like the digital edition of their titles distributed, including ebook retailers, library and school distributors, and alternative digital sales channels. Eric Stephenson, publisher at Image Comics, said in a statement, “It’s great that we’ll be reaching new readers in libraries through services like Hoopla and Overdrive.”