Library Consortiums are gaining momentum as a viable way for many smaller locations to make group purchases. One of the problems facing small libraries is that many of the top publishing companies either limit or do not allow their books to be sold via this model. 3M has created a new way for consortiums all over the USA to buy ebooks, from any publisher.
The 3M Private Cloud is a new program that will allow the library responsible for group purchases to buy titles in bulk and then distribute them to all of others. The Personal Cloud functions as a centralized hub to buy Penguin and Hachette titles, something they wouldn’t normally be able to access. Any of the other libraries can instantly have all of their digital books delivered into their ILS systems and available for lending. Obviously, all the libraries involved have to buy into the 3M Cloud Library system.
Today, we talked to Tom Mercer, the head of sales at 3M. One of the new projects we discussed allows libraries to try hundreds of titles for free, for one year. This is basically designed for people on the fence on making digital content available in their library, but aren’t sure about all the costs involved or if the public will embrace it. 3M will allow libraries to access hundreds of free books and see for themselves if this program is for them. If the library does not renew, the books will automatically expire after the first year.
Over the course of our interview, we check out the growth of 3M, how the company handles ebook discovery, and talk about its relationships with major publishers in the trial programs in New York.