Proquest announced a deal on Thursday to acquire Ingram's library services unit. In particular, Proquest is buyingfrom Ingram Content Group, including both the MyiLibrary platform and content acquisition and management tools (iPage, OASIS etc).
Update: Ingram is nitpicking the preceding paragraph, and wanted me to add the following clarification:
ProQuest is acquiring Coutts, but Ingram is keeping Ingram Library Services. Ingram Library Services is a separate company that serves the K-12 libraries and public libraries. Ingram is very much staying in the library business with Ingram Library Services to serve its market.
The terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but we do know that Coutts employees will be invited to join ProQuest. They'll report to Kevin Sayar, SVP and general manager, ProQuest eBooks. The deal is expected to close in the next few weeks.
The name Coutts hasn't crossed this blog much, but I was aware of MyiLibrary. This is a direct competitor to OverDrive. It functions on largely the same one user, one checkout terms as OverDrive, supports Adobe DE DRM, and supplies its own reading apps for Android and iPhone/iPad.
MyiLibrary has never gotten as much attention as OverDrive, much to my surprise. It's not nearly as big as overDrive, but with nearly 5,000 library partners it's also a lot bigger than 3M Cloud Library.
It's also distinctly different from ebrary and EBL (eBook Library), two library ebook platforms Proquest acquired in 2011 and 2013, respectively. Those are in the process of being merged into a single unit, ProQuest eBook Central platform, which is scheduled for launch later this year.
ProQuest CEO Kurt Sanford's blog post on the deal suggests that the MyiLibrary catalog will be merged into the eBook Central platform, which makes sense. Ebrary is focused on academic texts, while MyiLibrary has more of a consumer focus and offers a catalog of over 475,000 titles from fiction and nonfiction publishers. The two catalogs compliment each other, and assuming there are no technical complications the combined catalog will be more attractive to libraries than when they were separate.
This deal may not have gotten as much attention as Rakuten buying OverDrive last month but it is arguably as important as that earlier story. When ProQuest launches its new platform later this year it's going to be a major competitor to OverDrive and address market segments which OverDrive (with its consumer focus) doesn't touch.
This will be a company to watch over the next few years. ProQuest is privately owned, though, so that could prove difficult. Unlike publicly traded Rakuten, Cambridge Information Group doesn't have to make an annual media spectacle in order to keep its stock price up, which is part of the reason why it has managed to build an OverDrive competitor without anyone noticing.
image by Sutherland Shire Libraries