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.
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.
In a quick reversal of its position on Kindle lending, Penguin on September 26 loosened the terms of its renewed agreement with OverDrive, announced only the day before. The publisher has agreed to allow library patrons to download ebook titles wirelessly via OverDrive’s “Get for Kindle” function instead of, as initially announced, first downloading titles to a computer, and then side-loading those titles to their Kindle classic or Paperwhite using a USB cord.
“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.
“School libraries, I believe, will be the coming focal point for ebook licensing,” write Chris Harris. “We have strong relationships with our K–12 publishing partners, but now we must reach out to the trade houses. As the print market weakens, the time is right for schools to present a new business proposal.”
Avid readers who have made New Year’s resolutions to visit their local library more often might be interested in the Library Extension for Google Chrome. The free extension lets users know whether specific books, ebooks, audiobooks, and music CDs are available at their local library while they browse for those titles at Amazon.com.