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Less than a year after launching a pilot to make about 1,200 crime and mystery books available to libraries, Big-5 publisher Macmillan confirmed Thursday that it’s opening up the program: The publisher will make all of its backlist ebooks (books older than a year) available to libraries, for a total of about 11,000 titles. Newer ebooks will still not be available.
“Titles will be available to libraries through [digital distributors] OverDrive, 3M and Baker & Taylor, and also Recorded Books for audio. There were no reported changes in the model Macmillan uses or pricing at this time. Once purchased by a library, e-book titles will be available to lend for two years or 52 lends, whichever comes first, and titles in the pilot were priced at $25.”
The relationship between libraries and book publishers has been fraught, as publishers fear that making ebooks available to libraries will cut into paid book sales. Nonetheless, there’s been progress recently: Penguin, which had pulled all of its ebooks from digital distributor OverDrive in 2012 citing unspecified security concerns, started working with that distributor again late last month.
Random House (now merged with Penguin, but, according to Publishers Lunch, the publishers will retain separate library ebook policies) makes all of its ebooks available to libraries, but 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 makes all its ebooks available to libraries and charges more than the retail price, but a library only has to buy a copy once. Simon & Schuster does not make its ebooks available to libraries.