Simon & Schuster has never made its ebooks available to libraries, but that is finally changing with the company’s announcement Monday of a one-year trial with the New York City public libraries. Beginning April 30, Simon & Schuster will make its entire ebook catalog available to the New York and Brooklyn Public libraries; the pilot with the Queens Library is expected to begin in mid-May.
Simon & Schuster had been the only remaining Big Six publisher that did not make its ebooks available to libraries at all.
According to the release:
“The participating libraries can acquire any Simon & Schuster ebook title at any time during the pilot’s one-year term, with each title usable for one year from the date of purchase. Each library can offer an unlimited number of checkouts during the one-year term for which it has purchased a copy; each copy may only be checked out by one user at a time. All of Simon & Schuster’s frontlist and backlist titles that are available as ebooks are eligible for the program, with new titles being made available simultaneous with their publication.”
“In making our full list available we think we will get a better sense of lending patterns and patron behavior,” Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy said in a statement, “and I am particularly eager to start seeing the actual data so that we can better understand this still-new phenomenon.”
During the pilot, the libraries will also sell Simon & Schuster titles through their online portals, so that a patron who doesn’t want to wait on the hold list for a particular title can purchase it instead. The library gets a cut each time an ebook is sold through its platform.
Simon & Schuster would not comment on how much it will charge libraries for ebooks. (Random House, for instance, charges three times more than the retail price in some cases.)
Digital library distributor 3M is handling the trial for the New York and Brooklyn Public Libraries, with BiblioCommons powering the purchase option. Distributor Baker & Taylor is handling the trial and purchase option for the Queens Library.
With Simon & Schuster’s announcement, all of the Big Six publishers are making at least some ebooks available to libraries, with various restrictions. Random House makes all of its ebooks available to libraries, but, as noted above, at prices as much as three times higher than the retail price. HarperCollins allows its ebooks to be checked out 26 times before the library has to buy a new copy. Hachette only makes new ebooks available to some libraries in a pilot program, and charges more than retail price. Macmillan is running a two-year trial that makes 1,200 older ebooks available to libraries.