Simon & Schuster is starting a one year pilot in which they plan to “sell” ebooks to the Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library, and the Queens Library. These 3 libraries, which serve a combined population of over 8.3 million, will have the option of buying from the publishing company’s complete catalog. The ebook titles will be sold under a 1 year license, after which they will expire and need to be repurchased.
As part of the pilot the libraries are also going to be enabling patrons to buy S&S ebooks via the library website. It’s not clear exactly how this will occur nor has this option been added to the website yet, but the press release does note that the libraries will receive a commission on the ebook sales they generate.
Unlike the Penguin pilot which launched last Fall (and later expanded to all libraries), this pilot program will be supported by not one but 2 library ebook vendors. The 3M Cloud Library will be supplying S&S ebooks to the New York Public Library and Brooklyn Library, and Baker & Taylor’s Axis 360 digital library platform will be providing ebooks to Queens Library.
IMO, these 2 vendors were chosen in part because they already had existing relationships with the libraries in question. Also, I think they were chosen because they are not OverDrive. This vendor is growing increasingly unpopular of late, and they have been frozen out of the pilot programs that Penguin, Macmillan, and S&S have launched.
Simon & Schuster was the last remaining holdout among the major US publishers, having sold a single ebook to libraries in 2012. They are joined in their efforts to minimize library ebook sales by Hachette and Random House, each of which have significantly increased library ebook prices in 2012, and Macmillan, which is currently trialing a small pilot with 1200 backlist titles. HarperCollins, as you probably know, enacted a 26 checkout limit in 2011. And Penguin launched a pilot program last Fall that was later expanded to all libraries.
image by B.D.’s world