Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
Last week, I was part of a delegation of leaders from the American Library Association (ALA) that met–in separate meetings, of course–with executives of Macmillan, Penguin Random House and Hachette Book Group to discuss the current state and future of library ebook lending. This ALA delegation included our president, immediate past-president and president-elect as well as the co-chairs of ALA’s Digital Content Working Group (DCWG) and the executive director.
We enjoyed open and direct exchanges. Publishers did not immediately agree with us on all points, but they are receptive to receiving ALA proposals. Not surprisingly, pricing models were on the agenda–and the level of pricing continues to be an ongoing issue.
Beyond that, librarians need choice, but each publisher only offers one model. Digital preservation was acknowledged as an important issue, with diverse responses from among the companies. Other key issues, such as accommodations for people with disabilities and privacy, were also discussed.
ALA will be focusing on the development of specific proposals in the next few months. We will also consider how ALA can help libraries improve the effectiveness of their engagement with publishers, such as hosting author events.
Those attending the 2015 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Chicago are invited to the ALA DCWG’s public session “Libraries and Ebooks: Where Do We Go from Here?” to discuss these issues. Please join us on Sunday, February 1, 10:30am, McCormick Place West, room 196b. This session will feature Carolyn Anthony and Erika Linke, the ALA DCWG co-chairs; Steve Potash of OverDrive; and Matt Tempelis of 3M.
In separate meetings, the delegation also met with senior staff of the New York Public Library and the members of the Board of Trustees of the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO). In these meetings, we focused on digital content issues, the state of Big 5 publishers and New York institution-based initiatives (e.g., the Library Simplified project).
I also met with representatives of the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild to provide updates on ALA directions. Integral to these discussions was future thinking on how authors, publishers and libraries could work more closely in areas of common agreement. As with the delegation meetings, there was generally goodwill and optimism toward this end and a willingness to collaborate.
Overall, a great visit to New York, despite that darned crummy, cold, wet weather.