Amazon has generally been reluctant to allow libraries to have access to its ebooks, preferring instead to make those available via its own Kindle ebook store. Public advocacy groups and libraries however have taken strong exception to this and are demanding easy availability of the Amazon titles via libraries to allow the public to have easy access to the information contained therein.
Fortunately for book lovers, Amazon indicated it is deliberating licensing its digital titles to libraries though any concrete development on this is yet to be seen on the ground. The Hill however did confirm the Digital Public Library of America is discussing with Amazon Publishing on this though no one knows for sure how soon we can see the content being available in public libraries.
Michele Kimpton, director of business development and senior strategist for the Digital Public Library of America also confirmed to Publisher’s Weekly they have been discussing this with Amazon Publishing and that the talks have been going on since spring. Kimpton however said they have made good progress on this so far so that the Amazon titles can well be seen in libraries on the DPLA exchange by early 2021 itself. That said, some outstanding issues still remain and are being worked upon.
“We believe libraries serve a critical purpose in communities across the country, and our priority is to make Amazon Publishing e-books available in a way that ensures a viable model for authors, as well as library patrons,” an Amazon spokesperson revealed in a statement to PW. The tech giant said they will begin experimenting with different lending models in early 2021 so that something definitive is expected sometime soon thereafter.
Kimpton, meanwhile stated the potential agreement in its present scope only includes titles from Amazon Publishing while those from Amazon KDP program or Amazon Audible have been kept out of it. A subscription model for the libraries too is ruled out given that Amazon currently has a thriving subscription business in the form of Amazon Audible and Kindle Unlimited.
Rather, the agreement envisages all of the Amazon titles to be available in the form of the ePub edition. Further, the DPLA and its partner libraries would be in charge of the titles, which again would be accessible to the general public using the New York Public Library’s e-reader app, SimplyE.
If successful, this is going to be a huge development as this will open up access to more than one million digital titles that Amazon takes pride in claiming to be exclusive to their platform. The tech behemoth has so far been greedy with these titles and has resiliently fought off attempts to license those to public libraries.
An agreement to this effect will also bring to culmination the efforts of librarians and advocacy groups who have been campaigning since 2019 for Amazon to revoke its self-imposed ban on licensing its ebook titles. A tech advocacy group by the name Fight for the Future even launched a petition that called upon Congress to initiate an antitrust investigation to force Amazon to give up on the ban.
All of this development couldn’t have come at a better time too considering the steep rise in popularity of ebooks at the moment. This has much to do with the ongoing pandemic as in-person services continue to be restricted. For instance, the Los Angeles Public Library saw its ebook circulation rise from 2.7 million during the March 1 to Nov. 30 period last year to 3.9 million during the same period this year.
With a keen interest in tech, I make it a point to keep myself updated on the latest developments in the world of technology and gadgets. That includes smartphones or tablet devices but stretches to even AI and self-driven automobiles as well, the latter being my latest fad. Besides writing, I like watching videos, reading, listening to music, or experimenting with different recipes. Motion picture is another aspect that interests me a lot and maybe I’ll make a film sometime in the future.