Statewide programs for ebook “ownership” are emerging in California, Kansas, Arizona, and Massachusetts, aiming for direct deals with publishers in some cases, and long-term preservation of local content in others.
The Califa Library Group and Contra Costa County Library (CCCL) today officially announced the beta launch of Enki Library, a new ebook platform designed to host and lend library-managed ebooks using the Douglas County model. Named after the Sumerian god of mischief, creativity, and intelligence, Enki went live at CCCL and the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) on May 6, and will soon serve multiple libraries in California, beginning with members of the Bay Area Library and Information System (BALIS) consortium.
The American Library Association (ALA) on Friday denounced Hachette Book Group’s decision to implement steep price increases on its back-catalog of ebooks sold to the library market. OverDrive broke the news to its customers in an email on September 13, stating that “Hachette will be raising its eBook prices on October 1, 2012 on their currently available eBook catalog (~3,500 eBook titles with release dates of April 2010 and earlier). On average prices will increase 220 percent.” ALA President Maureen Sullivan expressed disappointment at Hachette’s choice, noting that ALA had believed that the publisher was moving toward more favorable terms for libraries.
The Harris County Public Library (HCPL) in Houston is developing a library-owned, library-managed ebook platform similar to the system pioneered by Colorado’s Douglas County Libraries (DCL), according to HCPL’s Coordinator for Marketing and Programming Linda Stevens and Multimedia Selection Librarian Michael Saperstein. The 26-branch library will continue offering patrons ebooks through its existing relationship with OverDrive, but Stevens explained that HCPL had decided to explore a model where they weren’t “putting all our ebook eggs in one basket” by licensing content from ebook distributors.
Califa, Douglas County Libraries, and The Internet Archive’s Open Library have made purchase commitments to acquire variations of the top 10,000 best-selling ebooks from indie distributor Smashwords. All told, the three separate commitments total about $100,000. The sales will occur through Library Direct, a new service that Smashwords has launched to facilitate the transfer of large collections of ebooks to libraries.
Book View Café (BVC), a professional author-run epublisher, last month announced the launch of a library-friendly “All You Can Read” ebook program, which offers libraries a 45 percent discount on BVC’s catalog, making the average price of the company’s ebooks less than $3.00. BVC is currently partnering with over 40 authors, including Hugo and Nebula award winners such as Ursula K. Le Guin, Vonda N. McIntyre, David D. Levine, and Linda Nagata, as well as New York Times bestsellers and notable authors Patricia Rice, Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, Lois Gresh, and Sarah Zettel.
The Douglas County Libraries pioneering model for purchasing ebooks directly from publishers is gaining a significant amount of traction.
Colorado’s Marmot Library Network, Anythink Libraries, and Wake County Public Libraries in North Carolina will all soon begin working with the DCL model. The news comes less than two months after San Mateo-based Califa Group, the largest library network in California, also announced plans to adopt DCL’s library-owned, library-managed ebook model.