That's a lot of books, but this week we are only looking at the ones in the public libraries. Those you would find in your neighborhood, city or county.
I don't know about your town, but in mine, which is located in the Mojave Desert, our branch library provides more than books. During the summer it operates as an unofficial cooling center for those lacking AC or evaporative cooling in their homes. The tables and chairs fill early with people reading books, magazines and newspapers on those scorching hot summer days.
But all year long you can find residents at the banks of computers that our library provides for their use. It is where students can do their research, visitors can check their emails and patrons can access the library catalogue.
It is easy, looking around the limited space to imagine a day when most of the books will be gone, and only those that are specific to this geographic area and/or include extensive maps, diagrams and pictures will remain. And just as the cassette tapes of audiobooks were replaced, first by CDs and then by MP3s, many books will be available only in a digital format.
Librarians will be able to spend more time assisting patrons with research questions and less time shelving books. More children's activities and literacy programs can be conducted.
I know that image probably strikes fear and disgust into the hearts of those who love the paper books we have grown up with, but there is no real need to worry too much, as that day is still a long way off. First we have to get to the point where digital books are completely integrated into our lending libraries.
Currently there are six big publishing firms that together account for 51% of the market share of books. They work with three library ebook distributors, OverDrive, 3M and Baker & Taylor. The libraries buy their ebooks mostly through one of these three distributors. As far as eBook agreements go, they vary by publisher.
- Simon & Schuster Last month Simon & Schuster began a one year pilot program that will offer its entire catalogue of ebooks at prices close to retail with unlimited check-outs with the standard caveat that they can only be loaned to one patron at a time. Unfortunately, the pilot program will only be offered to the three New York Public Library Systems. So, if you hold a library card at The New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library or the Queens Library you should have access to all Simon & Schuster books.
- Penguin, which suspended sales of its ebooks to libraries in 2011 reversed that decision in April of this year and is now selling its catalogue of ebooks to libraries. The price will be the same as retail and must be re-purchased every year. But still feeling no love for Amazon, Penguin will not be dealing with OverDrive which is the only ebook distributor for libraries to fully support the Kindle.
- MacMillan announced its launch of a pilot program in January, 2013.
The pilot is limited to 1,200 older titles from the Minotaur Books mystery and crime fiction imprint (part of Macmillan’s St. Martins division). Libraries will be able to lend out the ebooks for two years or 52 times, whichever comes first, before having to buy a new copy. According to Library Journal, each ebook will cost $25. The ebooks will be available through three different digital library distributors at launch: OverDrive, 3M Cloud Library and Baker & Taylor’s Axis 360.According to OverDrive, the pilot program has proved so successful that MacMillan has broadened it to include more titles.
- Hachett has just completed a pilot program and announced that they will be making their entire catalogue of over 5000 titles available to public libraries. They will charge three times the price of a primary edition, when new, and will allow unlimited checkouts, although to only one patron at a time. A year after publication in print, the price will drop to 1.5 times the highest priced edition then in print. The good news is that the library will not have to buy a new book every year. Hachette is working with all three major distributors, Overdrive, Baker & Taylor and 3M.
- Random House (which is expected to complete its merger with Penguin later this year), like Penguin, is offering its entire catalogue to libraries at three times the cost of retail. But, subject to the one ebook, one user at a time, restriction, the ebook does not have to be repurchased.
- HarperCollins allows its books to be licensed for 26 uses. After it has been checked out 26 times, it disappears. HarperCollins books are available through 3M Cloud Library and Baker & Taylor's Axis 360.
Public Libraries are the backbone of our democracy, providing the means for a citizenry to remain well informed. They are often the hub of their communities. Providing access to news as well as literature, libraries have always evolved to keep pace with the world around them. Gone are the card catalogues of yesterday that used to stand at the center of every library in the country. Filling new shelves are DVDs and CDs that offer different ways to experience the written word. Computers have made themselves at home amidst the stacks of printed books and offer some Americans their only link to the online world.
Eventually, ebooks will be integrated seamlessly into the library experience. The path between then and now may have some bumps and detours, but it will lead, someday, to a new destination for readers that will give them access to all of the works of all the publishers.
Readers & Book Lovers Series Schedule
|DAY||TIME (EST/EDT)||Series Name||Editor(s)|
|SUN||6:00 PM||Young Reader's Pavilion||The Book Bear|
|Sun||9:30 PM||SciFi/Fantasy Book Club||quarkstomper|
|Bi-Monthly Sun||Midnight||Reading Ramblings||don mikulecky|
|MON||2:00 PM||Political Books||Susan from 29|
|Mon||8:00 PM||Monday Murder Mystery||Susan from 29, michelewln|
|Mon||11:00 PM||My Favorite Books/Authors||edrie, MichiganChet|
|TUES||5:00 PM||Indigo Kalliope: Poems from the Left||bigjacbigjacbigjac|
|alternate Tuesdays||8:00 AM||LGBT Literature||Texdude50, Dave in Northridge|
|alternate Tuesdays||8:00 AM||All Things Bookstore||Dave in Northridge|
|Tue||8:00 PM||Contemporary Fiction Views||bookgirl|
|Wed||2:00 PM||e-books||Susan from 29|
|Wed||8:00 PM||Bookflurries Bookchat||cfk|
|THU||8:00 PM||Write On!||SensibleShoes|
|Thu (first each month)||11:00 AM||Monthly Bookpost||AdmiralNaismith|
|Thu (third each month - on hiatus)||11:00 PM||Audiobooks Club||SoCaliana|
|FRI||8:00 AM||Books That Changed My Life||Diana in NoVa|
|Fri||6:00 PM||Books Go Boom!||Brecht|
|SAT (fourth each month)||11:00 AM||Windy City Bookworm||Chitown Kev|
|Sat||9:00 PM||Books So Bad They're Good||Ellid|