November 17, 2014

Simon & Schuster eBook Pilot Concludes, All S&S Ebook Titles Now Available to All U.S. Public Libraries

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UPDATE The Simon & Schuster ebook pilot continues in Canada. According to S&S spokesman Adam Rothberg:

“Wider expansion is certainly a possibility in the future, and the Canadian systems that are in the pilot remain so.”

Simon and Schuster announced today that they’ve ended their ebook pilot with more than 20 public library systems in the U.S. and effective immediately all of Simon & Schuster’s frontlist and backlist titles that are available as ebooks are eligible for the program, with new titles being made available simultaneous with their publication.

Titles are acquired via OverDrive, 3M, and Baker & Taylor.

Pilot Timeline

January 2014:  Simon & Schuster Expanding Library Ebook Pilot, Full Catalog of S&S eBook Titles Now Available to Select Libraries Through OverDrive

November/December 2013: Pilot Expands to Canadian Libraries (Edmonton Public Library)

September 2013: S&S Launches Ebook Pilot for K-12 Libraries

April 2013: Simon & Schuster Library Pilot Begins

From Today’s S&S Announcement

As in the Simon & Schuster pilot program, each title acquired by a library for lending is usable for one year from the date of purchase. The library can offer an unlimited number of checkouts during the one-year term for which it has purchased a copy, although each copy may only be checked out by one user at a time. All of Simon & Schuster’s frontlist and backlist titles that are available as ebooks are eligible for the program, with new titles being made available simultaneous with their publication.

In order to help support libraries, and for the convenience of patrons who might not want to wait until a popular new title is available, Simon & Schuster’s ebook program includes a “Buy It Now” capability,which gives the patron the option to purchase a copy of Simon & Schuster eBooks through a library’s online portal, with a portion of the proceeds from each sale going to the library.

ALA President Barbara Stripling has also commented on today’s announcement:

“Today represents an important milestone for improving the ability of libraries to serve the public in the digital age. America’s libraries are the quintessential institution in connecting authors and readers. We have always known that library lending encourages patrons to experiment by sampling new authors, topics and genres. This experimentation stimulates the market for books—with the library serving as a critical de facto discovery, promotion and awareness service for authors and publishers.

“In early 2012, ALA began conversations with Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy and her leadership team. In our initial meeting in New York, it was clear that we had rather different perspectives on the merits of library ebook lending. Of course, much has changed in the past two years, and we’re so pleased that Simon & Schuster has moved library ebook lending from a pilot to a mainstream business for the company.

“The Simon & Schuster development is a welcome acknowledgment of our advocacy, the importance of the library market, and the key role of libraries in the nation’s communities. ALA looks forward to continuing discussions with authors, authors’ representatives, publishers, distributors, and retailers to create new opportunities to support a healthy reading ecosystem for the digital age. Let’s celebrate today’s progress, but also be mindful that a long and winding road remains ahead of us.”

Coverage

Comments from infoDOCKET Editor, Gary Price:

  • While it’s wonderful to have actual access to ebook titles, the cost of access (e.g. the price of a library providing access to a title) must be addressed by ALA, publishers, distributors, and the entire library community. What is the long term impact of high ebook prices and payment options (like one year ownership) to library budgets? It also needs to be asked if libraries could even afford increased usage of library ebook programs without jeopardizing other programs and services.
  • As we point out on an almost a weekly basis there is not enough (any?) discussion about the potential impact of ebook subscription services to library usage. Fast Fact: Both Oyster and Scribd  recently announced that the entire S&S backlist will be available to their subscribers. 
  • Privacy/Transparency. It was one year ago when we wrote and posted this item about library/ebook privacy and the need for more transparency with users. Sadly, but not unexpectedly, almost zero has been done to help solve some of the issues we raise.
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Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.