After years of expressing concern about the potential impact that library lending might have on consumer sales, major publishers have good cause to take another look at the library market for ebooks, according to executives from library ebook distributors OverDrive, 3M, and Baker & Taylor. With consumer sales growth slowing, bolstering institutional sales will likely become more of a priority for major publishers. OverDrive CEO Steve Potash noted that publishers, like all for-profit companies, are always looking for growth, and “there’s still a lot a growth in institutions, and there [are] significant opportunities for growth in education…. If retail is flattening, you have to experiment.”
Shortly after Simon & Schuster’s June 26 announcement that it had concluded a 15-month pilot test and would make its entire ebook catalog available to all U.S. libraries, Macmillan last week announced that it will make all frontlist ebook titles available to U.S. libraries as well. These moves mark a milestone in terms of the availability of popular ebooks, as Macmillan and Simon & Schuster became the final two of the “big five” publishers to allow U.S. libraries to license and loan all titles in their ebook collections.
When ebooks or other digital materials are not readily available in libraries, publishers “are missing a key conduit to a market that [they] can’t tap any other way,” Rebecca T. Miller, editorial director for Library Journal and School Library Journal, stated in her opening remarks for the “The Untapped Retail Channel: Public Libraries” panel on Friday, May 30 at the 2014 BookExpo America (BEA) conference in New York. Leaders from top library ebook and streaming media companies weighed in on this issue during an hour-long discussion.
Baker & Taylor (B&T) and its collection management subsidiary collectionHQ announced the launch of ESP (Evidence-based Selection Planning), an optional feature for collectionHQ that aims to predict system-wide and branch-level demand for books, ebooks, and other materials, including newly published items. The feature works by analyzing a library’s circulation history using collectionHQ, while leveraging data from B&T’s online collection development and ordering system Title Source 360.
“Penguin will resume doing business with OverDrive as of this morning,” Penguin spokesperson Erica Glass told LJ on September 25. According to a blog post by Karen Estrovich, collection development manager for OverDrive, 17,000 Penguin ebooks are already “live and available for purchase in OverDrive Marketplace.” Although Estrovich refers to the transaction as a purchase, the books are being offered for a one year term on a one copy/one user lending model.
Major distributor Baker & Taylor will offer publisher services to its customers via a new strategic partnership with Bookmasters, the company announced on July 10. The move comes as private equity firm Castle Harlan acquired Bookmasters; that purchase was also announced yesterday. Castle Harlan had previously acquired Baker & Taylor in July 2006 for about $455 million.