Officials at Amazon believe subscription-based ebook consumption is an inevitability, and will continue to invest in and build the company’s Kindle Unlimited service as part of an effort to stay ahead of the emerging trend, Russ Grandinetti, senior VP, Kindle, at Amazon explained during a candid general session interview on January 14 at the Digital Book World Conference and Expo 2015. In a separate panel, publishers expressed enthusiasm for Oyster and Scribd as discovery platforms.
SELF-e is the partnership between Library Journal and Charleston, SC’s BiblioLabs. A BiblioLabs product, Biblioboard, is a platform that seeks to bring (among other things) self-published works into the library ecosystem. I spoke recently with Hallie Rich, Cuyahoga County Public Library’s communications and external relations director, about the library’s pilot project with the platform.
Simon & Schuster (S. & S.) last week announced that it will no longer require libraries to offer a “buy it now” option with the publisher’s ebook titles. In June 2014, following the conclusion of an extensive one-year pilot program, S. & S. became the last of the big five publishers to enable libraries to license its ebook titles. However, in a move that elicited criticism from many librarians, the publisher required participating libraries to make S. & S. titles available for patrons to purchase through the library’s website via OverDrive’s Library BIN (Buy It Now) option, 3M’s Buy and Donate option, Baker & Taylor’s MyLibraryBookstore customized ecommerce sites, or links to S. & S.’s website.
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.
In a long-expected move, Amazon on July 18 announced the launch of Kindle Unlimited, a new subscription service that will give users unlimited access to a selection of 600,000 ebooks and more than 2,000 audiobooks on Amazon Kindle devices and any device with a Kindle app for $9.99 per month. The online retailer’s financial resources, marketing clout, and massive base of Kindle users alter the competitive landscape for all providers of ebooks, including libraries.
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.
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.
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 access fiction and nonfiction ebooks.