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.
Describing the service as a potentially “disruptive challenge to libraries,” Jamie LaRue, principal of LaRue and Associates Consulting, told LJ that “even in rural areas now, a lot of folks have ereaders, and find that they prefer ebooks. This kind of service, at that price point, will probably result in another market shift. $9.99 is a pretty good deal.”
Upon the announcement of Amazon’s ebook subscription program Kindle Unlimited, Gary Price, INFOdocket editor, writes “Are libraries ready to compete with these services?”
The U.S. Navy General Library Program (NGLP) last month announced the release of its new Navy e-Reader Device (NeRD), which comes preloaded with 300 titles including popular fiction, recent bestsellers, and content from the Chief of Naval Operations Professional Reading Program. The new e-ink readers were designed by preloaded digital content provider Findaway World (perhaps best known in the library world for its Playaway) and are the first devices to feature Findaway’s new “Lock” ereader security solution.
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.
After complaints from patrons about the lack of access to ebooks in libraries across the state, Connecticut lawmakers have passed a bill giving the state library’s board of trustees authority to create a state-wide ebook collection, accessible by anyone with a Connecticut library card.
Smashwords, the world’s largest distributor of self-published ebooks, on May 20 announced a new partnership with OverDrive that will make more than 200,000 ebooks from 80,000 self-published authors and independent presses available to libraries and their patrons via the OverDrive platform. All titles will be sold as perpetual, non-expiring licenses with no loan caps, and will be made available to patrons under a one ebook, one user model.