Simon and Schuster has just announced an ebook lending program with New York City area libraries that will begin next month. The program allows libraries to purchase all S&S frontlist and backlist ebook titles currently available, with new releases available on their release dates. The ebooks will be available for one year from the purchase date with unlimited checkouts. Each copy of an ebook can be checked out by only one user at a time. In addition, readers can purchase their own copy of an ebook by clicking through the library catalog pages. Through the S&S pilot program, the library will receive a share of the proceeds from the sale of ebooks from click-throughs. Queens Library President and CEO Thomas W. Galante said in the press release, “This bold new program is an important step in the right direction. It not only gives our customers access to some of the hottest titles; it also offers an innovation to allow patrons to purchase titles and support the library at the same time. It’s a win for everyone.”
The New York Public Library reported a 168% increase in ebook borrowing last year, a growing trend in library lending. According to Library Journal’s 2012 report on digital lending, “average circulation more than doubled from 5,000 to 11,000 between 2009 and 2010, and then quadrupled from 11,000 to 44,000 between 2010 and 2011.” In addition, 27.8% of libraries offer mobile reading devices for circulation, according to the American Library Association.
Simon and Schuster is the last of the Big Six publishers to announce a library e-book lending program. According to the ALA, ebooks have been available to libraries from Random House and HarperCollins for the longest time. Frontlist titles from HarperCollins can be checked out 26 times before the license expires. Backlist titles are available from Hachette for library circulation. Penguin, after a nearly year-long hiatus, re-launched a lending program starting in the NYC area on October 1st, 2012 which allowed libraries to purchase frontlist titles six months after publication. Macmillan affirmed in January of this year that they would soon begin a lending program for the Minotaur backlist for two years or 52 lendings, whichever comes first.
NYPL President Tony Marx said in a press release, “This is a path breaking step that will ensure that as ebook readership grows our citizens can enjoy access to books akin to what the library has always provided.”