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The American Library Association Annual conference every year is the perfect avenue to gauge emerging trends. During the 2014 event in Las Vegas, three trends eclipsed all others that had the entire floor buzzing with anticipation. Pay per Use, Libraries as Retail and Audiobooks were the largest issues that had keynote speeches and companies devoted to digital.

3m Cloud Library and Baker & Taylor Axis 360 are both revising their apps geared towards patrons for a better streamlined process to handle audiobooks. Instead of redirecting you to 3rd party services, they have both employed a complex backend to allow customers to browse, borrow and listen to books within a singular app.

Both of these companies are also allowing libraries to have more flexible control over their audiobook catalog. Collection managers will be able to develop their own custom shelves and serve genre specific audiobooks. For example, say a library is doing a monthly program showcasing Fantasy, they could populate the frontpage of the app with a custom selection of content from Urban Fantasy or even Lord of the Rings.

The apps B&T and 3M are developing will be quite different from their existing offerings. Not only can  you listen to books within the app, but you can download them to your tablet, phone or computer and listen to them offline. They will also allow you to pick up where you left off on one device, while using another, with their new syncing system.

3M disclosed that 50% of all of their libraries they serve are very interested in an expanded audiobook solution, while B&T is seeing unparalleled demand.

Audiobooks is a very interesting system for libraries, as many of the top distributors lean on 3rd parties for a full catalog of content.  3M and Baker and Taylor both lean on Findaway World, which is current market leader in production. Findaway has a catalog of over 40,000 titles and maintains production studios, narrators and crew in New York.  Overdrive has their own internal solution, where they approach publishers directly, instead of dealing with Acoustic, Findaway or Hoopla.

Hoopla is an audiobook solution for libraries that floats under the radar, but are quickly making a name for themselves with their exclusive focus. The company has a catalog of 13,000 titles with 1,000 added each month. Hoopla deals with over 100 libraries in the US and charges no licensing fees with setting up the system, which is quite appealing to the average library.

How does Hoopla make money? The company has employed the Pay Per Use model, which only charges the library when a specific title is checked out by a patron. Librarians can establish a weekly or monthly threshold, so they can ensure they will not go over budget. This financial model works for Hoopla because they can promote their entire catalog, while curating the bestsellers on the main page, so finding quality content is ridiculously easy.

eBook sales globally may have flatlined, but audiobook sales have been consistently rising. The industry last year was worth 2.4 billion dollars and has a 6% annual growth rate in the UK. Still, audiobooks are still fairly expensive when compared to an eBook. The average eBook for a library to purchase is around $9.99, while an audio edition costs $29.99. Many distributors told us off the record that they were seeing a 5:1 ratio for eBook loans vs audiobook loans.

In the end, libraries have more choice than ever before on who they want to deal with to power their digital audio solution. They can go with Hoopla, which is dedicated to audiobooks only and does not concern themselves with anything else. 3M, B&T, Overdrive or Recorded Books are all in one solutions that do everything from eBooks, magazines, graphic novels, movies and music.

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The Baker & Taylor Axis 360 library platform has transcended from being a US exclusive and has now come to Canada. Starting today the platform will be available for schools and libraries via a new relationship with an established partner Whitehots.

Michael Bills, Director for Sales, Digital Products told Good e-Reader exclusively “Whitehots will be reselling the Axis 360 platform and services to Canadian customers, and is incorporating the Axis 360 content metadata into the Whitehots ordering tools so that customers will be able to order both print and digital together from a single supplier. This mirrors for Canadian customers the streamlined acquisitions process that B&T creates for its customers using Title Source for physical and digital collection development.”

He went on to elaborate “The current content available for Canadian libraries is well over 500,000 titles, including more than 30,000 digital audiobooks. We expect this will grow significantly as B&T and Whitehots work together to involve more digital suppliers.”

WhiteHots has been on the Canadian scene for the past 25 years. The company assists new and existing libraries set up the entire backend from the acquisition of titles to choosing a proper ILS system. One of the companies new focuses is assisting libraries in selecting a proper launch collection for digital books with their Intelligent Library Solutions program.

There is not many companies offering end to end eBook solutions in Canada. Overdrive has been in the market for a number of years and the 3M Cloud has entered the market in the last six months. The competitive advantage Axis 360 has is the ability to order print titles in addition to eBooks and audiobooks.

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Baker and Taylor have building up a library distribution system for not only tangible books, but also eBooks and audiobooks. The company has been working hard to integrate their services into the BiblioCommons discovery layer. Today the Axis 360 platform now allows library patrons to have access to all library materials from the online catalog – whether physical or digital – and creates a convenient experience for borrowing and enjoying ebooks and digital audiobooks in the patron’s favorite reading apps and on their device of choice.

The integration of the two systems creates a simple and straightforward presentation of Axis 360 digital content alongside the library’s print, movie and music holdings. From that unified and user-friendly display, patrons can discover and select from the library’s entire range of materials available for borrowing. The real-time inventory display and deep API integration allows patrons to place holds when digital copies are not available, and to check out ebooks and digital audiobooks directly from a library’s website. The entire experience for digital borrowing is centered in the BiblioCommons interface so that library patrons do not have to leave the library’s website to access materials hosted remotely in the Axis 360 repository.

Baker & Taylor and BiblioCommons recently completed the first implementation of the new technology integration with Johnson County Library in Overland Park, Kansas. API-level integration with Axis 360 will now be available to all libraries using BiblioCommons.

“Baker & Taylor strives to improve patron and library experiences with digital services,” said George Coe, Baker & Taylor’s President and CEO. “Because of the close partnerships we’ve forged with BiblioCommons, ILS vendors and mobile technology providers, the day is coming soon when all Axis 360 libraries will be able to offer this valuable, user-friendly integration to their patrons. We would like to thank Johnson County Library for their participation with Axis 360 and the work they undertook to pioneer the integration with BiblioCommons.”

“Our libraries’ vision of interoperable ebook services, as outlined through ReadersFirst, gave us our direction,” said Patrick Kennedy, President of BiblioCommons. “BiblioCommons was pleased to collaborate with Baker & Taylor in this important step towards realizing this goal.”

BiblioCommons will make the update available to all of its library customers who use Axis 360.

With the addition of BiblioCommons, Axis 360 is now integrated with many of the leading ILS systems and discovery layers, including products from TLC, SirsiDynix and Polaris. Work is underway with other providers.

Used by many of the country’s top public, K-12 school and academic libraries, Axis 360 offers a fully accessible platform for library users to find, check out and read digital titles on their phones, tablets and ereader devices.

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School and public libraries may have gotten a boost today through a new agreement between McGraw-Hill Professional and Baker & Taylor. This agreement will make more than 5,000 technical, medical, and professional titles available for ebook lending; more than 700 of these titles are recently published works.

“We are at the forefront of the digital transformation in publishing and are committed to expanding our digital offerings to public and school library customers throughout the world,” says Philip Ruppel, president of McGraw-Hill Professional. “We are pleased to team with Baker & Taylor on new ways to make our world-renowned content instantly accessible to library patrons.”

“We are delighted our library customers and their patrons will have access to McGraw-Hill Professional’s wide variety of titles to borrow and enjoy,” said George Coe, President and CEO of Baker & Taylor. “Baker & Taylor is dedicated to working with our publishing partners to offer libraries a robust selection of digital and printed materials for their patrons.”

Libraries have become more of a focal point for distance and digital education, especially in vocational and technical training, thanks to the growing presence of MOOCs and online accredited educational opportunities. Pilot programs are already in place to beta test distance education in public libraries, even at the secondary school level. Access like this to these titles through the Axis 360 e-reading platform can enhance the options and learning opportunities for a variety of underserved individuals.

Axis 360 makes digital reading possible in nearly any way that readers consume content, such as browser-based PCs, tablets and smartphones, or dedicated e-readers.

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Baker & Taylor, one of the largest distributor of books and eBooks has appointed longtime executive George Coe as the company’s new Chief Executive Officer and President.

Coe brings a ton of experience with him to the table and has been with the company since 2000. He has served as President of Baker & Taylor’s Library & Education division, playing a seminal role in the development of Axis 360 program. Axis 360 is their library distribution service and they are 3rd major player in the USA by market share with Overdrive and 3M leading the pack.

Mr. Coe will replace Arnie Wight, who retired January 15 after a distinguished 34-year career with the company. Mr. Wight will assume the role of Non-Executive Chairman of the Board and will also work as a consultant for Baker & Taylor to support the leadership transition and the execution of strategic plans.

“Baker & Taylor is the leading provider of books, media, technological products and services to customers throughout the world, and I look forward to working with our excellent team to continue to enhance Baker & Taylor’s innovative solutions for our retail, library and education customers.” Coe continues, “I am proud to lead Baker & Taylor at a time when exciting changes are taking place in all of the markets we serve.”

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Baker & Taylor, the world’s largest distributor of digital and physical books and entertainment products, announced today that through a pilot program it will now be able to make available more than 450 popular ebook titles from Simon & Schuster imprints to classrooms and school libraries using the Axis 360 digital media circulation platform.

The brand new pilot program will allow Baker & Taylor’s K-12 customers to purchase access to many popular, classic and award-winning Simon & Schuster ebooks for school-aged readers. Some of the titles included in the pilot are Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Betsy Lewin, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson, Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt and For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway.

“Even more than their parents, young readers are very comfortable with digital content, so the addition of children’s and teens’ ebooks from such a large and influential publisher as Simon & Schuster is a welcome development in our industry,” said George Coe, President of Baker & Taylor’s Library & Education division. “Children now have more ways to discover books that engage their minds, and can do so on platforms that are familiar and easy to use.”

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Baker and Taylor has the 3rd largest market share for companies who facilitate digital ebook delivery in their libraries. Today, the company is making the process of reading easier with its new axisReader apps for iOS and Android.

The new axisReader apps allow you to borrow and read books within a singular app from your local library. You can read them in PDF or EPUB formats, as well as highlight, bookmark, annotate, or look up a definition. The new app will allow patrons to tap into a huge ecosystem of 450,000 titles, including digital audiobooks.

One of the most interesting aspects of this new app is the fact that BT has done away with its own Blio format, which got critical acclaim from the National Federation of the Blind. I guess with the rise of EPUB being the common ebook format, the company is better off going in that direction.

“axisReader is a powerful tool that provides on-the-go library patrons with the electronic content they want,” said George Coe, President of Baker & Taylor’s Library & Education division. “The release of axisReader shows again that Baker & Taylor is committed to developing technologies that boost library circulation and give patrons a superior library experience.”

If you have an Android or Smartphone you can load the new axisReader app from the Good e-Reader App Store.

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eMusic and K-NFB Reading, the parent company of Blio, have joined forces and restructured the company today. The new entity is known as Media Arc and will condense all ebooks and audio content under one roof. Blio is well known for providing audio books and technologies that appeal to visually disabled people, and Baker & Taylor is a strong supporter of the enterprise. Over 7 million songs, 40,000 audio books, and 600,000 ebooks are now properly of Media Arc.

According to an email sent to current eMusic partners: “Media Arc’s mission is to provide the best digital media discovery experience possible by leveraging cross-content insights to recommend new music and books to avid readers and music collectors alike. This will present both authors and artists with a unique opportunity to expand their fan base, reach new audiences, and of course sell more content. Founded by Futurist Ray Kurzweil with financial backing from former Microsoft CFO Michael Brown and media distribution giant Baker & Taylor, Blio, Inc. has built one of the most technologically advanced e-readers on the market. eMusic is a pioneer of the digital music space, with roots in helping music fans discover their next favorite artist or album dating back to 1998.”

eMusic has struggled to find the right business model since first launching in 1998. With the advent of iTunes, Amazon MP3, and Google Play, the company faced stiff competition in the music space. Its subscription model never really caught on, with users buying credits to purchase songs. The company currently has licensing deals with Sony, Warner, Universal, and EMI.

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In the last few years, the transition to digital ebooks in libraries has been accelerating. Many companies such as 3M, Overdrive, Baker & Taylor, and Recorded Books have all come of age and offer complete solutions for libraries offering electronic books. The American Library Association President, Maureen Sullivan, spoke to Good e-Reader about some of the issues facing libraries in this arena.

Maureen said that during 2012 librarians have become increasingly aware of the benefits of digital content. She said it was essential to stay informed on the different companies that offer solutions. She said its also important to know your audience and geographical location. It is easy for younger librarians to get carried away with wanting to offer ebooks, audio books, and video content to their patrons. Doing your due diligence on what your patrons want is of critical concern. Make no mistake, libraries going the digital route often have to spend close to $10,000 just to get set up, and many small and regional locations don’t have that type of money.

Whether libraries shift to digital or not, Maureen says that “libraries may evolve their design and be more modern, or some may even move into a pure digital experience. We will always have libraries and this is a very transitionary period we are all going though, it is very exciting time to be a librarian.”


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Baker &  Taylor is now able to offer audiobooks to its industry partners via a new relationship signed with Findaway World. The new program will be called Acoustik and will be accessible with Android and iOS. The real benefactors of this new initiative will be libraries, through which Baker & Taylor will incorporate 40,000 titles into its Axis 360 program.

“The release of Acoustik is an important milestone in giving consumers, retailers and publishers more choices in the delivery of audio content,” says David Cully, President of Baker & Taylor Retail Markets. “Digital audio is growing rapidly. Developed by one of the leaders in audio content, this platform, along with the strong partnerships Baker & Taylor has forged, will allow more great content to be available at the fingertips of consumers, who are very eager for it.”

You can download the dedicated app for Google Android app from our own Good e-Reader APP Store.

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Penguin has had a tumultuous journey with digital book lending to libraries. In February, the company severed ties with the largest supplier for providing libraries with digital solutions. At the time, Penguin stated that “Looking ahead, we are continuing to talk about our future plans for ebook and digital audiobook availability for library lending with a number of partners providing these services. Because of these discussions, as of February 10, 2012, Penguin will no longer offer additional copies of ebooks and audiobooks for purchase via OverDrive.” Really, the whole situation was attributed to Kindle users able to access Penguin content and customers doing business with Penguin’s arch-nemesis.

Penguin has really warmed up to the idea of digital ebook lending, forging a new agreement with the 3M Cloud Library earlier in the month. Today, Baker & Taylor announced it is initiating a new pilot program with Penguin to provide a number of American libraries with ebooks. This deal was actually originally signed last month, but these libraries now have the ebooks in their library system.

During the pilot program, Penguin’s ebooks will be made available to Los Angeles Public Library and Cuyahoga County Public Library via Baker & Taylor’s Axis 360 digital media library platform. Baker & Taylor serves more than 28,000 public, K-12 school and academic libraries in the United States and abroad.

It is very interesting that Penguin expanded on the relationship with Baker & Taylor. If you look at the geography, this is a West Coast experiment. 3M mainly had its pilot program in the New York Area and has since expanded west. This new program will provide many Californian based institutions with a similar selection of digital content.

“With deep roots in the library market and longstanding relationships with Penguin and other leading publishers, Baker & Taylor is a natural fit to work on this exciting project,” said George Coe, President of Baker & Taylor’s Library & Education division. “We are hopeful that this program will prove successful, so that more of our library customers can offer this tremendous Penguin content to their patrons.”

Tim McCall, Penguin’s Vice President of Online Sales and Marketing, said, “Penguin is excited to be partnering with Baker & Taylor to expand our library ebook lending pilot program. Millions of additional library patrons will soon be able to access ebooks published by Penguin. We have always been committed to libraries and initiating this phase of the pilot supports our shared goal of bringing great writers to new readers.”

Baker & Taylor is one of the world’s largest distributors of eBooks and multimedia content. Their popular Axis 360 program is a digital media circulation and management platform, used by many of the country’s top public K-12 schools and academic libraries. The company announced today they have developed a new mobile version of their Axis 360 service to work on most tablets, phones and e-Readers.

“People are reading more eBooks in more places with more devices, and today’s enhancement to Axis 360 ensures that their local library’s digital collection is always there for them,” said George Coe, President of Library & Education at Baker & Taylor. “To help libraries boost the circulation of digital materials, we have adapted the outstanding features of Axis 360 to the functionality and convenience of mobile devices. This gives patrons the freedom to check out eBooks not just at home, but in line at the grocery store, waiting at a doctor’s office, or anywhere else they might want to enjoy content.”

Since Baker & Taylor released Axis 360, hundreds of libraries have signed on to leverage the platform’s ease of use, broad content offerings, accessibility features and flexibility of formats. Their platform is also held in very high regard from people with vision problems, with their wide accessibility. The company just announced a few weeks ago that they have adopted the popular EPUB format, to make their offerings compatible with all current e-readers, but Amazon.

Overdrive and the 3M Cloud Library may steal all of the limelight when it comes to support for digital books for libraries. Baker & Taylor, the company behind Axis 360, is trying to heavily compete in this segment and has announced new ebook formats. The company today has introduced support for EPUB for popular e-readers such as the Nook, Kobo, Sony, and a myriad of others.

Axis 360 is Baker & Taylor’s new digital media circulation and management platform, used by many of the country’s top public K-12 schools and academic libraries. It is a fully-accessible platform that opens a world of content to those who are visually impaired. The new upgrade was implemented for all Axis 360-enabled libraries and will serve as the platform for ongoing development and growth of Baker & Taylor’s digital media library, which now has nearly 300,000 electronic titles available for library circulation.

With Axis 360, library patrons can now use virtually any of the top multi-function phones, tablets, and e-reader devices to find, check out, and read digital titles from their local library. Patrons can select the ebook format that works best for them, choosing from EPUB or PDF formats. They also have an option to try Blio, the fully-accessible, free ereader app that offers rich features and content, available on Apple iOS, Android, and Windows devices.

“The newly-enhanced Axis 360 ensures that patrons with the most popular tablets, as well as dedicated e-readers, can tap into their library’s digital collection,” said George Coe, President of Library & Education at Baker & Taylor. “With Axis 360, libraries know they are providing all their patrons the best and most options to access and experience ebooks.”

“Baker & Taylor has a number of other enhancements – such as spoken word audio and other features – coming soon for Axis 360, to make more content readily available to more patrons, and to help libraries boost their circulation and better serve their communities,” Coe said.