The service allows libraries to build their own magazine collection from a portfolio of about 4000 digital titles that RB and Zino are offering. Multiple patrons can read the same title simultaneously, and libraries pay per title in addition to a tiered platform fee that is calculated based on annual material circulations.
“We have a history of selling audio books and we have great relationships with libraries and we were looking for other products that libraries might want outside the audio book offerings,” said Jim Schmidt, the vice president for business development in the RB Digital division, which formed about three years ago to lead this type of diversification for RB.
“Our feedback was that libraries wanted products that had good consumer appeal, that were high quality, and were something of obvious value to the patron and the library. We want patrons to say ‘Wow, I can’t believe I’m getting this,’” Schmidt said.
Although the distribution partnership between RB and Zinio formed a year ago and library patrons in the U.K., Canada, and Australia have already been using the service, the roll out in the U.S. was delayed until this week because of other projects Recorded Books was working on, Schmidt said. Despite the delay, 35 libraries signed up for the service before it had even debuted here.
Corinne Hill, the director of the Chattanooga Public Library, said she couldn’t wait to roll out the service.
“As a lover of magazines I really couldn’t resist this service. The ability to download the latest copy to your portable device combined with not having to receive or shelve material, just made the decision really easy,” Hill said, referring to the fact that the magazines can be read not only on a Mac or PC but on a variety of mobile devices using Zinio’s reader apps.
This was also a big attraction for the Orange County Library System in Florida.
“We have an increasing number of borrowers who are accessing us only remotely,” said Debbie Moss, the assistant director, who said the service was a “big enhancement” to the library’s digital collections. “Every time we can add a service to our digital presence we’re enhancing that experience for those borrowers and we’re happy to do it.”
Chattanooga is paying $6417 for its service, which includes 121 titles (e.g., Newsweek, Parenting, and U.S. Weekly). This price includes $3,600 for the platform.
“We are also ordering some German language magazines as Chattanooga has a fairly large German speaking population due to Volkswagen’s presence in this community,” Hill said.
The service has magazines in 23 different languages.
“That’s one of the big appeals,” Schmidt said. “It gives libraries some options to bring in some content they may not have been able to afford. We have hundreds of Spanish language titles.”
In Orange County, the library is considering close to 500 titles, 20 percent of which would be Spanish-language publications, Moss said.
The magazines are read on the Zinio platform, which recreates a magazine page-for-page, including full-color pictures and interactive media elements such as audio and video.The entire authentication process is described in the user guide posted below.
Among the titles in the service are The Economist, ESPN Magazine, Consumer Reports, Car & Driver, Good Housekeeping, and Esquire.
“The goal is to allow libraries to have resources to remain relevant and provide value to patrons that they may not have been able to reach before,” Schmidt said.
Zinio could not be reached for comment.