What’s Next for Ebooks and Libraries?

library e-readerNow that all of the largest U.S. publishers are selling ebooks to libraries in some shape or form (bringing them in line with the vast majority of the rest of the publishing community), it’s worth taking a quick look back at the path traveled to try to figure out where it’s all going.

In 2001, HarperCollins signed a deal with OverDrive to distribute ebooks. It wasn’t until 2008 that Random House brought 6,500 of its ebook titles to the leading library ebook platform. In 2010, Hachette stopped selling new titles to libraries. And in 2011, HarperCollins instituted its now infamous “26 checkouts” limit (the number of times a library can lend an ebook copy before it has to purchase another one).

In the past two years, the largest publishers have all fitfully got on board with the library ebook agenda in one way or another. But each of them is using a different model, between windowing titles (Penguin Penguin no longer does this), raising prices (Random House and Hachette) and limiting licensing terms (HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster).

Now that all of the publishers are dabbling in library ebook lending, will one of them hit upon a standard model that everyone else in the industry will follow?


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The rest of the day’s top news:

Ebook Reader Habits Changing (DBW)
According to a new research report, some 50 million Americans read an ebook last year. As the ebook reading public grows, its habits are changing. The power readers that once made up most of those reading ebooks are now a shrinking minority.

Doing a Digital Discovery 180 (Pub Perspectives)
With the digital discovery echo chamber making it harder for publishers to expose some of their books to readers, HarperCollins is taking an old-school approach to building an audience for its titles. The publisher is opening a salon (think intellectual exchange, not perms and dye-jobs) in London’s hip Shoreditch neighborhood. For all its wonders, the internet hasn’t yet found a way to totally replace face-to-face interaction.

Why Doesn’t Microsoft Get Tablets? (Forbes)
When Microsoft made a $600 million investment in Barnes & Noble last year – specifically in what is now known as Nook Media – the publishing industry oohed and aahed: Now that B&N had some money and the serious backing of a real tech player, maybe it could challenge Amazon. It’s become clear following the disaster that has been the Surface tablet that Microsoft doesn’t know anything that B&N doesn’t.

Textbook Publisher Launches E-Reading Platform (DBW)
Textbook publisher Flannery Company is launching Digital Cerebrum, a browser-based ebook reader.

Publisher in Play (Pub Lunch)
Spain’s PRISA Group is denying that one of its imprints is being sold to Random House. However, it did admit that it is exploring its strategic options (read: part or all of it is on sale). According to Pub Lunch, it has crushing debt.

Children’s Ebook Wars: Sesame Gets in the Kitchen (DBW)
The next version of the iCookbook from Publications International will feature recipes for kids from Sesame Workshop. Sesame has been among the most aggressive children’s publishers when it comes to licensing its intellectual property and spreading it out among many platforms.

Children’s Ebook Wars: FarFaria Has Smarter Readers? (DBW)
Children’s ebook platform FarFaria claims that its readers read much more than the average American kid.

See Dave Shine (WWD)
Former superstar editor of Men’s Health Dave Zinczenko now has his own fitness imprint with Random House. See him strut in this item on a movie premier party he attended recently in a take typical for the magazine media industry.

Ebook Too Quick (National Press Photographers Association)
Just days after the tragic events at the Boston Marathon this year, an ebook has been released with photographs of the gruesome carnage. Aside from completely lacking in taste, the book was full of photos under copyright. The ebook has been taken down after multiple infringement complaints.

Ebook Religion Hits London (BBC)
James Huggins from children’s platform Me Books and Mark Coker, founder and CEO of Smashwords, were among those interviewed for this BBC short on ebook evangelists at the London Book Fair.

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Image Credit: library image via Shutterstock

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