January 25, 2013

MacMillan’s ebook lending program draws praise from ALA


MacMillan is set to begin its ebook lending library pilot program, offering more than 1,200 backlist titles to libraries across the country.

MacMillan CEO John Sargent released a statement spelling out some of the preliminary details of the program:

The pilot program is set to launch before the end of first quarter in 2013. Under the agency model, and working with multiple distributors, Macmillan will offer over 1,200 backlist eBooks from its Minotaur Books mystery and crime fiction imprint, a part of the St. Martins Publishing Group. The titles cover all sub-categories of crime fiction from thrillers to cozies, hard-boiled crime to psychological suspense and include many award winners. Once purchased by a library, the titles will be available to them to lend for 2 years or 52 lends, whichever comes first. All of the books in the program will have the same digital list price.

The titles will be available through a number of distributors, and at the launch through Baker & Taylor’s Axis 360 Digital Media Library, OverDrive and the 3M Cloud Library.

While this program is a step forward in terms of how publishers and libraries do business in the digital marketplace, it is important to note that the lending program does not yet include frontlist titles, which, one assumes, will only be offered once the program is deemed a viable and potentially longterm success. But, as MobyLives has reported before, publishers may have to speed up their game, as libraries claim they are running out of patience (time?)

All things considered, though, the MacMillan program has received a warm response, as ALA President Maureen Sullivan explained in just-released memo:

“I am so pleased Macmillan Publishers is beginning to sell e-books to America’s libraries so that we may connect their authors and our readers in the digital age. This is a welcome acknowledgment of our advocacy and the importance of the library market. We have always known that library lending encourages patrons to experiment by sampling new authors, topics and genres. This experimentation stimulates the market for books, with the library serving as a critical de facto discovery, promotion and awareness service for authors and publishers.

Almost exactly one year ago, the ALA began this conversation with Macmillan CEO John Sargent and his leadership team, and regular communications have continued as the company stated it would launch its pilot last September. While today’s announcement is only a first step, we look forward to the release of more details about the pilot and continuing work together to bring even more Macmilllan e-titles to libraries in the future.

I am glad they are willing to try new business models in collaboration with libraries. This is an important development in our evolving relationship with publishers and intermediaries. ALA and our nation’s libraries welcome new partners in creating and supporting a nation of readers.

We will continue our work to develop these relationships and to create new opportunities with publishers, authors and intermediaries to support a healthy reading ecosystem.

Libraries stand with readers, thinkers, writers, dreamers and inventors. Books and knowledge — in all their forms — are essential.”


Kevin Murphy is the digital media marketing manager of Melville House.