In the following video, librarians present the case for ebooks in libraries to major publishers at last week’s Association of American Publishers annual meeting (via Publishers Marketplace). The speakers are ALA President Molly Raphael; Jim Neal, Columbia University libraries; and Tony Marx, NYPL. In the audience are the heads of most of the largest houses in publishing, including many that do not sell ebooks to libraries.
Archive for the ‘Ebooks’ Category
A panel entitled “Redefining the Dialogue between Libraries and Publishers” at the Association of American Publishers annual meeting yesterday featured ALA President Molly Raphael; Jim Neal, Columbia University libraries; and Tony Marx, NYPL.
Reportedly, Marx “generated the most drama” (the UK’s trade publication, The Bookseller), giving an “impassioned address,” (Publishers Lunch). The audience included John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan and David Young, CEO of Hachette Book Group, two of the houses that do not currently sell ebook to libraries for lending,
The other librarians were not in agreement with Marx’s suggestion that libraries should consider introducing more “friction” into the lending of ebooks to address publishers’ fears that library lending will destroy the nascent consumer market for ebooks. Raphael objected to his idea that libraries could stop lending ebook best sellers, focusing instead on “the backlist; on how we can promote people to read…. Books that might not be producing much revenue to your industry. As an educator, I know how much valuable information is stored there.” (Publishers Lunch)
Neal “vociferously opposed” Marx’s suggestion that NYPL would be willing to force users to come to the library to download ebooks (Publishers Lunch).
The reports don’t indicate if anyone pointed out that library budgets already impose a great deal of “friction” into the process, limiting the number of copies of ebooks libraries can buy.
Library Journal reports that a lawyer in the audience noted that “anti-trust concerns might hamper publishers in collaborating to develop a business model and suggested that these could come from the library side instead; Raphael responded that ALA already had a working group in place to develop such options.”
The Justice Department has issued a warning to Simon and Schuster, Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group, Macmillan and HarperCollins as well as Apple, that it may sue over the “agency model” for pricing ebooks to consumers, which Justice says may violate anti-trust laws.
The “agency model” (publishers set the price and the seller takes 30%) was introduced to counter Amazon’s approach of selling ebooks for $9,99, often at a loss, which publishers regarded as an attempt to establish a monopoly. The publishers who adapted the agency model, then told Amazon that they would only sell them ebooks under that model.
Booksellers were also concerned about Amazon’s approach. As The Wall Street Journal notes,
William Lynch, chief executive of Barnes & Noble, gave a deposition to the Justice Department [last december]in which he testified that abandoning the agency pricing model would effectively result in a single player gaining even more market share than it has today, according to people familiar with the testimony.
UPDATE: OverDrive just announced that the Harry Potter titles are available now for pre-order through Content Reserve.
At this point, none of the Harry Potter books are available digitally, but when they are, libraries will be able to buy them to circulate.
When J.K. Rowling announced plans for the web site Pottermore.com, she also announced that it would be the exclusive seller of Harry Potter eBooks. Today, OverDrive announced that they have entered into a deal for both eBook and digitial audio distribution of the titles to schools and libraries.
In the press release, Charlie Redmayne, Pottermore’s CEO, underlined the company’s belief in the important role of libraries;
We are keen to support public and school libraries, and OverDrive, as one of the leading suppliers in this market, provides us with a global network that helps us achieve this, as well as encouraging the discovery of these amazing books across the world.
In addition, the books will be offered in several languages, beginning with English, French, Italian, German and Spanish.
The only hitch is that this won’t begin until Pottermore.com, which is still in Beta, is launched. However, this announcement may be a signal that it is coming soon.
Late last year, the Penguin Group suspended libraries’ ability to lend the company’s new ebooks and audio downloads, pending evaluation. The evaluation is now complete and the news is not good. Yesterday, the company announced that they have terminated their contract with OverDrive. For the titles that libraries have already purchased, Library Journal reports OverDrive is negotiating a “continuance agreement,” to allow ongoing access.
The Penguin Group imprints include NAL, Berkley, Dutton, Riverhead, Viking, Dial Young Readers, Philomel, Putnam, and Speak.
The LJ story concludes with this chilling scenario;
…publishers [may] demand a business model in which they will only make their ebooks available to public libraries if they are used in the library or if a patron is required to bring their device to the library and load the title onto the device in the library, then bring it home.
Top executives from ALA visited New York publishers this week to present the case for making ebooks available for library lending. When librarians found out that Random House had asked to be included, fears grew that the one house that has stood firm in making their titles available was about to change that policy.
The rumor was completely unfounded, however. RH told both Library Journal and Publishers Weekly that they simply wanted ALA to know that, “Our commitment to libraries, as imperative to our momentum, if not to our existence as publishers, is greater than ever.”
One small hitch, however, a price increase will take effect March 1.
Librarian response has been positive, since this model is preferable to windowing (not making ebooks available until a year or more after release), limiting the number of circulations, or not making ebooks available at all. As a result, publishing news aggregator, Publishers Lunch ”Automat,” commented in its link to the PW story, “It’s Interesting Times When Random House Raising Prices On Library eBooks Is Celebrated As Good News.”
Several libraries immediately placed orders on Random House titles to beat the price increase.
NBC News announced yesterday that it has created a new publishing division, NBC Publishing, to produce ebooks based on information from NBC’s news shows (including The Today Show and Nightline), archives and other divisions (NBC Sports, Universal Pictures and Telemundo).
The head of the new division, NBC v-p Michael Fabiano, told Publishers Weekly that their first original e-book is coming next month, followed by about 30 titles over the year. He also noted that NBC has the capability of distributing titles on their own.
He did not address whether titles will be available to libraries via OverDrive, but indications are hopeful. NBC has hired two people from publishing houses, both of which sell titles via OverDrive to libraries; Peter Costanzo from Perseus Book Group has been named as creative director and Brian Perrin, most recently with Rodale, is director of digital development. Also, an earlier enhanced ebook that NBC published with Running Press, From Yesterday to Today: Six Decades of America’s Favorite Morning Show (Dec., 2011), is available to libraries on OverDrive.
Reporting the story, the online movie news site, Deadline points out that ebooks are likely to evolve into a format separate from print books, with this quote from Cheryl Gould, NBC News SVP who is heading up the New York-based part of the new division,
As the tablet and e-reader markets continue to expand exponentially, and as the definition of “what is a ‘book?’” evolves, we see opportunities to bring readers a unique and immersive content experience. This business enables NBC to use video, audio, and current programming in creative new ways.
In a front-page article yesterday, the Washington Post highlights what librarians have been discussing for months; libraries can’t buy enough ebooks to meet demand, both because of “limited budgets” and because of “little cooperation from some publishers.”
Included is a chart that shows availability of best sellers in as ebooks in local libraries. Seven of the 20 titles are not available to libraries, most of the rest show heavy holds.
An eBook-only title appears at No. 8 on the current the NYT eBook Nonfiction list. It is just the second e-only title to hit that list, (after Sarah Burleton’s self-pubbed abuse memoir, Why Me?), according to tracking by Publishers Lunch.
The book, The POLITICO Playbook 2012: The Right Fights Back, by Mike Allen and Evan Thomas, is an instant digital book, the first in a series of four titles about the 2012 election to be published in a joint venture between the political news site, Politco and Random House. It is billed as “the first in-depth look inside the 2012 Republican race to the nomination.”
As with other Random House titles, it is available for library lending via OverDrive, in Kindle, ePub and audio formats. However, relatively few libraries seem to have ordered it, raising the question of how libraries discover and buy e-only titles.
Co-author Mike Allen, the chief White House correspondent for Politico, has promoted the book on several national television shows, including PBS’s Charlie Rose Show and CBS Face the Nation (bringing a tongue-in-cheek protest from the site FishBowlDC.com that POLITICO’s constant promotion has reached the saturation point).
After OverDrive’s announcement that Penguin had decided to restore access to older titles for library lending via Kindle, Penguin released a statement that this will only be in effect through the end of the year, unless concerns about unnamed security issues are resolved (see last line)
Penguin USA took the decision yesterday [11/22] to withhold the supply of new digital titles from suppliers to US libraries until concerns about the security of the copyright of its authors have been resolved.
In addition, Penguin informed suppliers to libraries that it expected them to abide by existing agreements to offer older digital titles to libraries only if those files were held behind the firewalls of the suppliers.
Following receipt of this information, Overdrive, a supplier of ebooks to US libraries, removed “Get for Kindle” from its offering.
Penguin has subsequently been informed by Amazon that it had not been consulted by Overdrive about the terms of Penguin’s agreement with Overdrive. Amazon has undertaken to work with Penguin and Overdrive between now and the end of the year to address Penguin’s concerns. Penguin will, as a result, restore the supply of these titles until the end of the year in order to return the availability of older titles to all its digital customers.
This just posted on the OverDrive site. Note that new titles will not be available:
‘Get for Kindle’ for all Penguin eBooks in your catalog has been restored. Penguin titles are available for check out by Kindle users and the Kindle format will be available for patrons who are currently on a waiting list for a Penguin title. This does not affect new releases, which remain unavailable.
We apologize for the inconvenience this caused for your library and patrons.
At this time, no further information is available. We hope to share more details in the near future.
Now that Random House is the only publisher of the Big Six that sells ebooks to libraries without restrictions (HarperCollins limits the number of circulations to 26), we thought it was a good idea to check in with them, to see if they are standing firm.
In response to our inquiry, spokesperson Stuart Applebaum replied, ”Random House, Inc. is maintaining our current position regarding digital sales of our books to libraries while actively reviewing our position.”
Now is a good time to show library support for RH titles. Early reactions about galleys can be a critical element in developing buzz. Publishers regularly hear from booksellers (particularly via the IndieNext program), but less so from librarians.
Here’s what you can do:
Get to know which titles RH is working to build buzz for. Read Random Revelations, the RH Library Marketing catalog and the Random Revelations blog. Pay particular attention to the debuts, such a Chris Pavone’s The Expats (Crown, March) or Thomas Mallon’s Watergate (Delacorte, Feb; more about it here; Digital review copies available from Edelweiss), and titles positioned as breakouts, like Defending Jacob, by William Landay (Delacorte, Jan; more about it here; Digital ARC on Edelweiss).
Let RH know what you think of specific titles, via comments on the blog, or by writing directly to the RH Library Marketing staff (firstname.lastname@example.org). Tell them if reading a galley made you decide to order more copies, what audience you envision for particular titles, which ones you plan to use with reading groups. Give them quotes they can use in promo copy. This information is particularly helpful in the critical time before a book is published, the earlier, the better.
Random House, Inc. is a big company with many imprints and divisions. Get to know the players by studying the list on the RH site, which provides descriptions of each division and imprint, with links to their home pages.
Taking these steps will reinforce the point that libraries are key to building readership for books.
A new theory on why Penguin has pulled the plug on library lending of their ebooks came out in today’s Publishers’ Lunch. Surprisingly, it’s an issue that also concerns libraries.
According to the story, publishers are upset because OverDrive sends library users to Amazon’s site for Kindle downloading, essentially making Amazon the administrator of library lending and thus not “governed by publishers’ contracts with Amazon or OverDrive.”
Libraries, also, have expressed concern about sending users to Amazon. California librarian Sarah Houghton recorded a comment on the subject in October, in which she states, “when you check out a Kindle book from Overdrive, it dumps you out on the Amazon web site, and you conclude the transaction there. The transaction ends with a pitch for you to buy more books.” She also expresses concern about the data that Amazon gleans from library users. This subject was also explored by librarian Bobbi Newman on her blog post, Public Library eBooks on the Amazon Kindle – We Got Screwed.
Like many of you, we have wondered what Penguin means by saying they are re-evaluating lending eBooks via libraries because of “security risks.” We’ve asked Penguin to explain why library lending is more of a threat than selling through bookstores, but have not yet received a response.
In the absence of information, speculation is rife. In a story for Publishers Weekly, Andrew Albanese suggested that another issue might be at work,
OverDrive’s David Burleigh told PW there was no incident he was aware of at OverDrive where the “security” of any titles has been questioned or compromised, fueling speculation that Penguin’s actions may be directed at Amazon, which recently drew the ire of authors, agents, and publishers with the launch of its Amazon Prime lending model.
The tech news site, The Register, also sees the situation that way. In a story dramatically headlined, “Penguin pulls its eBooks off library shelves – Fed up with Amazon giving away its stuff for free” they speculated,
The move could be a swipe at Amazon, which has been giving out Penguin books for free on Kindle against the wishes of the publisher.
For more on that issue, read the 11/14 statement from The Authors Guild, “Contracts on Fire: Amazon’s Lending Library Mess.”
[UPDATE: It appears The Register has it wrong. Neither Penguin's, nor any of the other Big Six publishers' titles are included in Amazon's Lending Library, since they all sell to Amazon via the agency model, which prohibits lending.]
Meanwhile, a Forbes reporter notes the potential effect on Amazon,
It will be interesting to see Amazon e-reader competitors Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Sony might stand to benefit if Kindle lending is specifically stopped by more publishers.
At one point, Kindle was the only eReader that did not offer library borrowing. Publishers could effectively put Amazon back in that position.
Libraries may be caught in a battle that is not of their own making.
After Penguin’s announcement yesterday, we hope none of the rest of you are planning to disallow library lending of your ebooks. However, if you are considering such a move, please remember to let libraries know before the policy goes into effect.
Libraries are not only your customers, they are your business partners. They display and promote your books, make important One City and reading group picks, and educate the public on new technologies. Barnes and Noble stores regularly send their customers to local libraries to learn how to use the Nook. All over the country, libraries are offering classes on how to use eReaders (the Darien Library is holding one at the perfect time; the day after Christmas).
When a publisher changes its lending policy, libraries are the first to hear the complaints. Penguin cut off lending over the weekend, leaving library users first confused then angry. Since libraries didn’t receive notification until mid-day Monday, they were left blind-sided. If there’s one thing a librarian hates, it’s not being able to answer a question.
It’s unfortunate that Penguin’s move comes on the heels of Amazon allowing library lending via Kindles. Libraries are now facing increased demand and a reduced pool of titles. Please, publishers, respect the difficult position a change of policy puts them in.