In recognition of National Library Week, Total Boox, the “pay-as-you-read” metered ebook platform, will make its entire collection of more than 20,000 titles free to read from April 13 through April 20. The week-long promotion will allow anyone with an Android, Apple iOS, or Kindle Fire tablet to download the free Total Boox ereader app at www.totalboox.com/freereading and immediately access genre and literary fiction, ebooks on crafts and self-help, religion and spirituality, health and medicine, business and careers, and other fiction and nonfiction titles from publishers including O’Reilly, FW Media, Sourcebooks, Other Press, Elsevier, Red Wheel Weiser, Berrett-Koehler, Open-Road.
The Israel-based company is encouraging libraries to take advantage of the promotion to introduce patrons to ebook titles and to explore the service for themselves. Although the platform was developed for the consumer market, in recent months, Total Boox has begun cultivating partnerships with libraries. After a fall 2013 pilot at New York’s Westchester Library System, Total Boox in January announced the widespread availability of the platform for interested libraries.
For consumers, the proposal is straightforward. Books cost nothing to download, and readers are only charged for the portion of the book that they read. If a reader downloads a title priced at $10, but only reads 10 percent of the ebook, then he or she pays $1. If a user reads an entire ebook, the title becomes part of their permanent collection and can be re-read at any time with no additional charges.
Company representatives have described two key benefits of the model in discussions with LJ: With do-it-yourself titles, cookbooks, or similar ebooks, a user might be interested in a single chapter, and this would enable him or her to pay only for that chapter. The model takes the risk out of exploring unfamiliar authors and genres. If a novel doesn’t appeal to a reader, he or she can move on to something else while only paying for the portion of the ebook that they have read.
With the Total Boox platform for libraries, the model offers patrons unlimited simultaneous use with no loan expirations. Libraries pre-pay for a Total Boox account for their patrons, who can then download the Total Boox ereader and register for an account using their library card number. All content read by patrons result in deductions from the account, and all paid content then resides on the patron’s device.
Essentially, the library is paying for content that its patrons then keep. Some librarians have expressed concern about the emergence of “download and keep” models, which do not bolster a library’s collection, and primarily benefit patrons who can afford tablets and other devices. However, Total Boox founder and CEO Yoav Lorch has noted that the model offers another way to sponsor and promote reading within a community. And unlimited simultaneous use will likely appeal to both patrons and many librarians.
“Libraries and reading are inseparable, so it seems fitting to celebrate libraries by inviting people to read,” Lorch said in an announcement. “Public libraries continue to face many challenges with ebooks. Let’s take our minds off the issues during National Library Week and shift the focus back on reading. We are thrilled to help libraries promote reading in their communities.”