Digital Library News

Archive for Digital Library News

Dr Seuss big
Kids ebooks have been slow to take off, despite the great content coming out from companies like iStoryTime and Scholastic. But Kobo, whose Kobo Kids’ Store offers younger readers a catalog of over 100,000 ebook titles, recenlty secured a deal that would add some of the most beloved children’s books of all time to its catalog. This week, Kobo announced that it would offer 40 of Dr. Seuss’ most well-known and admired titles for children, adding that content to the already dynamic ebook offerings for kids through Kobo devices and the Kobo app.

“Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, expanded our idea of what a children’s book could be. Through fantastical worlds and text both silly and inspiring, Dr. Seuss has always played and continues to play a part in igniting the imaginations of young readers,”said Michael Tamblyn, President and Chief Content Officer, Kobo, in a press release. “It is a part of childhood that every parent looks forward to passing on to their kids and we couldn’t be more pleased to be bringing these essential books to young readers in digital form.”

This offering comes at a time when studies still demonstrate that younger readers tend to not only prefer print when reading self-selected texts, but an alarming study also showed a decrease in reading comprehension when kids were required to read digital editions (as opposed to having selected the ebook for themselves). But why the push for children’s ebooks if they prefer print and perform better with paper? Because the educational landscape is changing dramatically, especially for higher education, and students who aren’t equipped to navigate an environment where their coursework is on device screens may find themselves at a disadvantage. By introducing ebooks at an early age and helping students remain focused on the book throughout its use, these readers will grow up to be better suited to the expectations of an increasing number of colleges and universities.

2011-10-02-11-14-27-Library director Erin Comeau with Kobo eReader

Kobo is giving $5.00 to libraries for every customer they refer to the platform as part of a new program. Overdrive, Baker & Taylor and 3M Cloud are all offering the ability for patrons to purchase eBooks from Penguin and Simon and Schuster. When books are purchased, retailers such as Kobo actually fulfill the order.

If a customer wants to purchase a personal copy of the title – perhaps because the waiting list is too long, or they want permanent access to the eBook – they will simply click “Buy it Now” and be taken to Kobo to purchase the title. Titles purchased via Kobo are for personal use only and cannot be donated to the library’s collection. An 8% affiliate credit of the total purchase amount will be credited back to your library to use toward your digital collection development.

When a customer clicks the Buy it Now button they have different options to buy the title from a few different resellers. Kobo is betting on libraries to promote their ecosystem, rather than the competition with a straight $5.00 referral fee. This credit will be sent straight to the library and is only paid if the customer is new to Kobo, existing users are disqualified.

Comments (4)


Simon & Schuster has rolled out their nationwide eBook strategy for libraries. In order to offer the digital titles to patrons librarians have to offer the ability for their patrons to buy the title. What about consortia? New information has just been revealed that libraries that belong to a consortium will have the hardest time offering the S&S titles.

There are many consortium libraries all over the United States. Some of the larger ones have close to 600 different libraries spread all over a State. They often pool their financial resources and a few collection managers will buy titles and distribute them to all of their members. What libraries don’t know right now is that the entire consortium would have to opt into selling Simon & Schuster eBooks.

This makes collection managers job very difficult, because they have to approach every single library in their network and see if they would be willing to sell books. They basically have to sell the idea that for every title they sell they get fifty cents commission.

K12 librarian Alison Hewett summed up the dire situation by proclaiming “It is hard to believe that publishers think that offering an ebook to a library for only one year softens the blow of having to be a store for them as well. To me it presents an ethical dilemma. Are book talks literary sales pitches now?

Alison is referring to the fact that libraries consortiums can purchase frontlist and backlist titles from Simon & Schuster. These books have a one copy, one loan policy in place but are only valid for one year. After the year is over, librarians have to purchase the title once again.

Libraries that belong to a consortium will undoubtedly be getting sales pitches from the main collection managers that are responsible for furnishing their locations with eBook content. It does not matter if you deal with Overdrive, 3M, BiblioCommons, and Baker & Taylor, you will have to become a retail store to buy S&S titles.

Comments (2)


The BiblioTech digital library in Bexar County Texas has officially opened their doors to the public.  Patrons will be able to access to over 10,000 eBooks and residents will be able checkout  600 E-readers,  9 laptops and 40 tablets to read them on.

BiblioTech branch manager Catarina Velasquez said if compared it to any other library, you’ll find one major difference. “The biggest difference that you are going to find is that you’re not going to see rows and rows of books. Instead, you’re going to see rows and rows of computers,” said Velasquez. “We have all of our content digital and online.”

Good e-Reader spoke to Laura Cole, Special Projects Coordinator of BiblioTech who mentioned “Buxer County has never run a library before and all of the surrounding county’s are limited to being established within city limits. We have been looking at ways to enhance the library services for people that normally don’t have access.  How could we address this in a cost effective manor? In the past five years the expansion of digital books and their availability to libraries is significant.”

She went on to say “We have a county owned facility that featured 4800 sq.ft  that wasn’t even being used!  This particular location is ideal, it’s a underserved area of San Antonio.  It features many schools nearby and a  seniors center across the street.”

Residents at Bexar County will be able to access the eBooks from their own device, using their library card and the 3M Cloud Library app. The BiblioTech will be open from 12 to 8 Monday through Friday, and 10 to 6 Saturday and Sunday. If you live in the area, the address is 3505 Pleasanton Road, San Antonio, TX 78221, (210) 631-0180.

Comments (3)


3M has released a few different generations of their self-checkout systems for libraries and their latest iteration certainly will impress. It allows for many different display languages and the ability to pay fines directly on the machine. This anonymizes the entire fine process, which is done in a safe and secure environment.

The Smart Checkout system not only is able to process the payment of fines via PCI-compliant payments but also provides book discovery and customization. Libraries can employ their own branding with backgrounds, animations, logos and color scheme.

I really liked the book discovery engine that showcases similar titles to the ones you just checked out. Not only does it display books currently in the library but also ones that will be available soon. If the book you want is checked out already, you can place a hold in one click.

The cost of the smart terminals vary depending on the library, but generally costs around $15,000 to $25,000. Larger libraries will obviously need more powerful machines, while smaller ones can get away with getting a discount.


Library Collection Managers often have to buy the titles they want to make available to their patrons. eBooks, audiobooks, music and streaming movies all have to be purchased in advance in order to have them included in the catalog to be loaned out.  Sometimes the digital offerings take up a tremendous amount of capital and if a librarian is out  of touch with the needs of the community, money can sometimes be wasted.  An emerging trend is starting to catch on that may solve this conundrum, pay per use.

The pay per use model is starting to be embraced by a number of companies such as Overdrive and Hoopla. The concept allows the library to include the entire catalog of content and only pay when a customer borrows it. Instead of selectively deciding what audiobook or movie to buy, they can just display everything. Backend tools allow the collections manager to set monetary thresholds to insure they don’t go over budget.

Hoopla is an established audiobook company that has been in business for close to 20 years, but has only been doing digital for the last two. The company has one of the largest selections of audiobooks and do not charge libraries any sort of fees to use their system. Whenever a customer borrows an audio editions from the app or the website they can immediately listen to them without having to download any 3rd party apps. Librarians dig the ability to make their own collections, incase they want to manually curate the way everything is displayed.

Overdrive is experimenting with pay per use as part of their new arrangement with Warner Brothers. The company is making many backlist titles available within their Media Console App. Libraries will not have to buy the movies in advance and instead only pay when a patron borrows a title. Backend tools allow librarians to establish a daily, weekly or monthly revenue threshold, similar to Hoopla.

One of the main benefits of the pay per use model is that publishers are likely to embrace this as an avenue to further monetize their eBook sales.  Penguin Random House, Hachette, Simon and Schuster and HarperCollins all have different mindsets when it comes to selling content to libraries. Some only have a 26 checkout limit before librarians are forced to buy the title again, some expire after one  year and others mandate libraries have to sell eBooks directly. The Pay per Use model would insure frontlist and backlist titles would always be purchased, which would help drive down prices to less than wholesale.

Pay per use is not yet a fixture at libraries yet, but established players are starting to adopt. This system is still in its infancy and there is little financial information available on the costs libraries are paying or if the business model has long-term viability. Still, showing the entire catalog of content is fairly compelling. Hopefully companies like McGraw Hill and Follet start adopting pay per use to assist in more widespread adoption.

With so much happening in the world of digital publishing for the higher education market, it’s easy to forget that the public education sector is lagging behind at a pitiful pace. Ironically, it’s this K12 market that could really stand to benefit from digital learning solutions, both in terms of cost and in the ability to reach all learners in the ways that serve them best.

McGraw-Hill Education announced a new platform at a conference today that can change all that. Presenting at the International Society of Technology in Education conference in Atlanta, the company unveiled Professional Learning Environment that will help educators take charge of professional development and seek out new opportunities to stay on top of their fields.

“We strongly believe that teachers are at the center of all learning, and that their power to influence student success surpasses that of any learning tool,” said Peter Cohen, president of McGraw-Hill Education’s School Group, in a press release. “The launch of our available-anytime Professional Learning Environment reaffirms our commitment to that belief, and, like every one of our digital offerings, aims to support teachers with the best tools possible as they work to prepare students for the future.”

McGraw-Hill Education is also showcasing its student-centric digital offerings at the ISTE conference, including Engrade, LearnSmart, Time To Know, and more. The tools provide learning and assessment tools for the K12 classrooms, helping to target instruction to a more individualized approach based on what the students still need to practice and learn.

The company will be focusing on putting these tools in front of educators and administrators throughout the conference.

“We are committed to delivering new ways for school libraries to access our premier content to help students achieve success,” says Philip Ruppel, president of McGraw-Hill Professional.  “We are pleased to team up with Follett to expand student access to our digital collections.”


Libraries have traditionally been a destination to borrow books, digital content and to train the community via various outreach programs. You can now add self-publishing to the libraries arsenal via a new system developed by Fastpencil and Recorded Books.

Recorded Books has been distributing content to libraries since 1979 and has mainly focused on digital magazines, eBooks and academic content. Recorded Books has announced a partnership with self-publishing resource FastPencil to bring public libraries an electronic resource that enables established and aspiring authors to create and prepare original works for publication.

FastPencil’s powerful technology provides libraries with an end-to-end publishing network that helps authors write, manage, convert and distribute books and eBooks. With access to robust management capabilities, libraries can also ingest, store and post library content to patrons.

We spoke to Brad Gray of Recorded Books and Andrew Conway of FastPencil at the American Library Association Annual 2014 conference in Las Vegas. The main question we asked is how will the self-publishing program be marketed to libraries and how will content be made available.

Brad suggested that traditional libraries or schools start developing creative writing or poetry competitions where young people can hone their craft and have their prose judged by library professionals. The winning entries that can be made available for the library to distribute for free to all of their patrons. Since the eBooks are self-published, they do not have to abide by the traditional one book, one lend philosophy.

Andrew thought that digitizing old family recipe books or family vacations would be an ideal way to leverage the technology. This avenue is practical because the FastPencil system allows collaborative sharing, editing and development of the eBook. The end result does not need to be shared with anyone else, but having the option to list it in the library is very compelling, especially with old recipe books.

FastPencil went from a startup just a few years ago to winning the Book Expo Innovation award. The company continues to innovate by announcing their partnership with World’s Best Story to uncover the next big blockbuster story via a social contest. Aspiring authors will be reviewed and voted on by a community of readers, and, ultimately, hand-selected by a panel of best-selling authors. The grand prize winner will have his or her title published by FastPencil PREMIERE, FastPencil’s best-selling author imprint service.

FastPencil is becoming an emerging force in self-publishing because they continue to establish relationships with other startups and veterans. The deal with Recorded Books really gives libraries the option to foster creativity in the community. Who knows, the poetry winner today, might be a Pulitzer prize winner of tomorrow and the books would also be available at the library forever.


Baker & Taylor Axis 360 is the definitive app that library patrons use to read books, listen to audio or watch streaming video. One of the downsides is that B&T relies on many 3rd party companies such as Blio, Acoustic to deliver audiobooks and music. Instead of listening to music within the Baker and Taylor app, customers are instead redirected to download and install many different apps to take advantage of multimedia content. This process is similar to Barnes and Noble suspending their relationship with Overdrive because customers were mandated to download the Media Console and use Adobe Digital Editions, a convoluted process.  Baker & Taylor realizes that redirecting patrons to download alternative apps breaks immersion and is working on a next generation content delivery system.

The new Axis 360 app is poised to launch near the end of the year. They are utilizing new API systems that will allow patrons to listen to music or audiobooks, watch movies or engage complex EPUB3 textbooks. This will basically incorporate content from all of the companies they lean on to provide content within their own app and be more intuitive to use.

Michael Bills of Baker and Taylor said that the new app will be huge and reduce the complexity for libraries. Everything will be done behind the scenes, making the end-user experience a thing of beauty.


Simon & Schuster has been slowly dipping their toes into distributing their electronic book titles to libraries in the US. The publishing company has been participating in a pilot program in 20 different libraries in order to find a viable business model that worked for all parties involved. Today, ahead of the American Library Association Annual conference in Las Vegas, S&S has announced that are expanding nationwide.

Effective immediately, public libraries across the United States can acquire for their collections ebook editions of such beloved classic favorites and current bestsellers as The Great Gatsby, Steve Jobs, Doctor Sleep, Hard Choices, The Flamethrowers, The Light Between Oceans, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and the Mortal Instruments and Dork Diaries series.

S&S is offering both their frontlist and backlist titles, which means as soon as the novel is released in bookstores, libraries have a chance to purchase a copy. The library can offer an unlimited number of checkouts during the one-year term for which it has purchased a copy, although each copy may only be checked out by one user at a time.

Penguin pioneered the library concept of the Buy it Now Button. This allowed libraries to act as retail outlets, by offering the ability to sell the title to patrons. The library, publisher and distributer all got a piece of the transaction if the wait list was too long. 3M, Baker & Taylor, and Overdrive will all be expanding their distribution of Penguin titles all over the USA and offering the Buy it Now Button.

“In the year since we first started our pilot, we have been delighted with the response from the participating libraries, and we believe the time is right to make our ebooks available to all libraries,” said Carolyn Reidy, President and Chief Executive Officer of Simon & Schuster. “Although the library market for ebooks is still evolving, we are pleased to now offer ebooks to libraries on a universal basis, providing their patrons the content they desire in increasingly popular digital formats, and helping libraries to continue serving their communities as they have so well for so many years.

ALA President Barbara Stripling released the following statement – “Today represents an important milestone for improving the ability of libraries to serve the public in the digital age. America’s libraries are the quintessential institution in connecting authors and readers. We have always known that library lending encourages patrons to experiment by sampling new authors, topics and genres. This experimentation stimulates the market for books—with the library serving as a critical de facto discovery, promotion and awareness service for authors and publishers.


Overdrive unveiled their streaming video service last year and the service allows Canadian and US libraries to offer digital movies to their patrons. The company has just signed a distribution deal with Warner Brothers that will add hundreds of new titles to their catalog, but with a catch. Libraries no longer have to buy the titles in advance.

Libraries will be able to benefit from a new transactional, pay-per-use lending model from OverDrive for the first time. This model eliminates the need to purchase titles in advance of their use and ensures that titles are available instantly to all patrons simultaneously. Libraries can curate the video lists that want to get setup and offer content that will serve their communities.  They can also set user lending policies for Warner Bros. movies to manage costs within their material budgets.

Library patrons across the U.S. and Canada will be able to use PCs, Macs, iPads, iPhones, Android Tablets or nearly any connected device to stream videos from their library. Building on the existing OverDrive catalog, Warner Bros. titles such as I am Sam (Academy Award nomination for Best Actor: Sean Penn), Natural Born Killers (Starring Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis, Golden Globe nomination for Best Director: Oliver Stone), Insomnia (starring Al Pacino and Robin Williams, Directed by Christopher Nolan), and Life as a House (SAG Awards nominations for Leading Actor: Kevin Kline; Supporting Actor: Hayden Christensen) will soon be available for lending.

New App from 3M Cloud Library
As the American Library Association’s annual conference kicks off later this week in Las Vegas, companies that support public and academic libraries will showcase their technology and roll out new offerings to the attendees. One of those companies, 3M Library Systems, will be unveiling a next generation app that provides a more personalized lending experience of digital content.

“The 3M Cloud Library app still allows libraries to create custom shelves to promote content to patrons. However, now users can personalize which genres they browse on a regular basis, allowing them to quickly find new content they are interested in,” said Tom Mercer, 3M Cloud Library Marketing Manager, in a press release. “The combination of both library and patron customization tools means we have the most flexible interface to create an intuitive and elegant experience for the library user. A great app experience creates happy patrons, which in turn means more circulation and more users for the library.”

Personalized lending experiences cannot come soon enough in a climate where libraries are struggling to remain relevant and to offer the same kind of user experience that patrons have come to expect in other industries. Of course, the real news is in the addition of a number of publishing partners, upping 3M’s catalog offering in order to help libraries provide their patrons with the content they want. These new partners include titles from Perseus Books Group, Penguin Random House‘s Spanish language books division, Encyclopaedia Britannnica, and several more. This addition increases 3M’s catalog of titles to over 300,000 ebooks.

“3M Cloud Library continues to secure content from publishing partners offering the titles patrons are most excited about,” said Mercer. “This quality-over-quantity approach helps libraries demonstrate the value of this powerful eReading tool.”

Good e-Reader will be on hand at the ALA conference to post features about the new projects and products that will be showcased at the event.

OverDrive is the world’s largest supplier of digital content to public and school libraries, but that content isn’t only ebooks. The company also meets the needs of libraries and their patrons with music, audiobooks, and the ability to stream movies from the library. OverDrive announced a recent addition to that catalog that will increase its already-10,000 strong list of movie titles to include great new programing from National Geographic, BBC, and more.

“Streaming video is the fastest-growing category of digital titles you can now access from your local library,” said Alexis Petric-Black, OverDrive’s manager of publisher account services, in a press release. “The OverDrive collection of Hollywood feature films, documentaries, self-help and beloved children’s titles permit the public library to offer a first-stop destination for what to watch online.”

The bigger news, though, is the availability of new foreign language titles through a large addition to OverDrive’s catalog. Some 30,000 new titles from major European publishers have been incorporated, adding to the accessibility of content for native speakers and interested language learners alike.

“Renowned international publishers and aggregators recently added to the OverDrive network include RCS Group (5,000 Italian titles), Libranda (12,000 Spanish titles), Zebralution (2,000 German titles), DeMarque (8,000 French titles), and Primento (1,500 French titles). Imprints under RCS Group include Adelphi, Bompiani, BUR, Marsilio, and Rizzoli, with authors such as Umberto Eco, Oriana Fallaci, Dacia Mariani, and Papa Francesco (the Catholic Pope). Zebralution brings works in the German language from authors such as Timur Vermes, Phillip Müller, Dan Brown and Ken Follet.”

This recent addition brings that total amount of content that member libraries can use to build their catalogs to just over two million titles.