It's been some 4 months since Macmillan announced they were considering how to begin offering ebooks to libraries, and today they finally released details of the pilot.
Macmillan will begin their first ebook library lending program by the end of the Q1 2013. They plan to initially test the idea with 1,200 backlist titles from their Minotaur Books imprint.
The ebooks will be available via Axis 360, OverDrive, and 3M Cloud Library. Once purchased by a library, the titles can be lent for either 2 years or 52 lends, whichever comes first. All of the books in the program will have the same digital list price.
But do you know the kicker? Macmillan has managed to combine the limited checkouts of HarperCollins with the ridiculous prices of Random House. Library Journal is reporting that each copy will cost $25.
So it seems Macmillan is officially joining the "I Hate Libraries" club. (Up until this point they had not sold ebooks to libraries at all, thus making them a non-voting associate member.)
Macmillan will be joining their fellow major publishers Hachette, Random House, HarperCollins, and Penguin, all of which restrict the availability of library ebooks (HarperCollins, Penguin) or charge ridiculous prices (Hachette, Random House). This exclusive club is ruled over by Simon & Schuster. S&S currently sells only a single ebook title to libraries, and that only made it through their gauntlet because it won an award.
Angry ranting aside, we're now at 6 for 6. All of the major publishers have made it clear that they don't actually want to sell their content in all markets to all customers. Why? I'm really not sure. Aside from the usual vague statements which translate to "no", I can't recall that any of the major publishers has ever shown real evidence to support their business decision. All I have is guesswork.
image by Jeffrey Beall