Simon and Schuster is the only major publisher that has never engaged in providing digital content for libraries. Over the course of the last few years, the American Library Association has been meeting with company representatives to try and sway them over. Today, Simon & Shuster announced a one year pilot program for the New York, Brooklyn, and Queens Public Libraries.
The President of the American Library Association, Maureen Sullivan, commented, ““We are pleased Simon & Schuster has recognized the vital roles of libraries in supporting reading in all its formats by announcing a library e-lending pilot in New York City. As we celebrate the 55th annual National Library Week, it is a particularly fortuitous time for the publisher to join its Big Six colleagues by providing access to ebooks through our nation’s libraries. We hope that Simon & Schuster will extend its pilot to libraries beyond New York City in the near future. Books and knowledge—in all their forms—are essential. The ALA and our members welcome new and expanded digital access for all.”
“We have always recognized the important place of libraries in our communities. They play a vital role in fostering and encouraging reading in every strata of our society, and they help to create an audience for our books and authors,” said Carolyn Reidy, President and Chief Executive Officer of Simon & Schuster. “We are delighted to partner with these libraries, which have shown an extraordinary willingness to try innovative models with the potential to be a long-term solution for all involved. In making our full list
available we think we will get a better sense of lending patterns and patron behavior, and I am particularly eager to start seeing the actual data so that we can better understand this still-new phenomenon.”
The 3M Cloud Library System has been earmarked to handle the digital distribution for the New York and Brooklyn Public Libraries, while Baker and Taylor will run their Axis 360 program in Queens. What of Overdrive? The company remains the largest force in the library world when it comes to handling the loaning out of digital books and audiobooks. Publishers don’t like the fact that Overdrive deals with Amazon and allows their books to be borrowed on the entire range of Kindle devices, which is why they missed out on the Penguin trial that was announced last June.
3M is really being put on the map with the last few major business deals they have scored with major publishers. The company got in with Penguin last year and ran its trial in New York, which eventually got expanded and now the publishers titles are available in libraries all over the US. Recently, Penguin announced it will offer its entire line of front-list titles, so libraries can have access to the digital editions, the same day the printed counterparts come out. This is worth noting, because S&S is likely going to follow the same pattern. “These pilot programs are a first step for publishers to engage in the library ebook market,” said Tom Mercer, marketing manger, 3M Cloud Library. “Through collaborations with publishers, 3M has been able to help expand the overall market, bringing more digital titles to libraries.”
When it comes to publishers and libraries, the entire process remains convoluted. They can’t seem to agree on a unified distribution strategy and makes the entire process complicated for librarians. Some offer the ebook at three times the amount the paperback costs, while others impose a 26 checkout limit before you have to buy the ebook again. Can you imagine being a librarian and having to deal with different pricing and distribution methods for every month publisher you deal with? I know most that have given up on digital and just went with normal books, because its simpler.The one cool thing Simon and Schuster is doing is giving the ability for patrons to buy the books. Libraries will earn a small commission whenever someone reads and then buys the book, or decides the waiting list is too long and just makes the purchase.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and Verge.