When Simon & Schuster expanded its library ebook distribution in June, they required all libraries who bought S&S ebooks for their collections to also add a buy button to the listings in the libraries' catalogs. Today S&S relaxed that restriction, possibly in the hopes that more libraries would carry S&S titles.
The ALA announced the news today in a press release, quoting ALA President Courtney Young as saying that the change "speaks to the importance of sustaining conversations among librarians, publishers, distributors and authors to continue advancing our shared goals of connecting writers and readers".
Given that the buy buttons would be expected to drive sales, this is a rather curious decision on their part, but I suspect that S&S dropped the requirement because it wasn't generating enough money from sales. This might be due to library patrons not being in a buying mood, but it could also be a result of a flawed system.
When I checked my local library (an OverDrive client) I found that it offered 5 S&S ebook titles in its catalog. All 5 had buy buttons, but only two of the titles had buttons leading to major ebookstores. The other 3 only included the option of buying from Library Bin. I've never heard of that bookstore, so I would not be inclined to shop there.
It's not clear why the other ebookstores aren't being listed (especially since I have the option of reading all 5 titles as Kindle ebooks) but if S&S wasn't seeing enough sales then it would make little sense to keep the requirement.
Simon & Schuster's other restriction, a 1 year expiring license, is bad enough.
image by andryn2006