At this year’s BookExpo America event, OverDrive CEO Steve Potash had some high praise for Hachette’s recent embracing of library lending, making 100% of its catalog available to all public and school libraries who partner for digital content. While other major publishers have been adopters of ebook lending on some scale, Potash’s admiration was for a publisher to look at the very clear data on how lending actually supports authors and publishers, and make a strong decision to support it.
Now, Hachette has gone even further in its support of readers by making the audio editions of its back list and select new releases available free of charge to the NLS, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. The NLS is a division of the Library of Congress that meets the unique needs of readers of different abilities.
Nearly twenty years ago, legislation was enacted that allows the NLS to made different versions of books available for the disabled without having to seek the permission of the copyright holder. This allows individuals to enjoy books at the same rate and scale as non-disabled consumers. Unfortunately, while legal and even supported by many publishers, it is still time consuming to create different versions of the books.
“As a publisher, Hachette Book Group strives to make authors’ content as widely accessible as possible, and the NLS program is the perfect channel to reach fans of our books and audiobooks who otherwise may not have the opportunity to experience those works,” Anthony Goff, Hachette’s VP of Audio and Large Print Publishing, said in an announcement about Hachette’s support of the NLS.
According to an article by Matt Enis for The Digital Shift on Hachette’s new program with the NLS, this initiative came about after a fan reached out to author Douglas Preston, asking if he knew when the latest title in the Pendergast series would be available as an audio download through Talking Books. That inquiry led Hachette to evaluate what other means of support it could lend to disabled readers.