A New Development for E-Books in Libraries

It just became a lot easier for library lovers to get their favorite books digitally. One of the five largest publishing houses in the U.S., Simon & Schuster, is now making all of its e-book titles available to libraries, no strings attached. Simon & Schuster first started making their ebook titles available to libraries over the summer, but in order to gain access, libraries had to agree to participate in the company's "Buy Now" program, which meant checking out an e-book also came with a purchase button encouraging you to buy it, as well. Now, the titles will be available regardless of whether or not the libraries participate in its "Buy Now" merchandising program.

Let me take you back to the summer and explain why this move is big. Previously, if you checked out an S&S title, you saw that compulsory "Buy Now" button. On the one hand, this was potentially a good opportunity for libraries; since they were acting as vendors, they received a portion of the proceeds from sales derived from the buttons. And accordingly, the American Library Association was largely supportive. But many libraries were also hesitant to sign up for the program. After all, one of the main purposes of libraries is to provide books to a community free of charge. Introducing a retail aspect to libraries seems something of an unsavory precedent to set.

Now, Simon & Schuster has now dropped their requirement that libraries participate in the "Buy Now" program in order to lend patrons Simon & Schuster e-books, making it optional. Libraries who are interested in potentially gaining the revenue the buttons can provide are free to participate in the program; libraries who don't want that are still able to gain access to Simon & Schuster e-books.

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“Since we first began offering e-books to libraries, we have been gratified by the enthusiastic response and valuable feedback we have received from our partners in the library community,” Carolyn Reidy, President and Chief Executive Officer of Simon & Schuster said in a statement. “We very much look forward to serving the broadest possible segment of the library community in order to bring our ebooks to their patrons."

ALA President Courtney Young stated in a press release that the change "speaks to the importance of sustaining conversations among librarians, publishers, distributors and authors to continue advancing our shared goals of connecting writers and readers." Here here!

The Simon & Schuster library lending program includes all digital books in the publisher's catalogue, including classics like Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, modern bestsellers like The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, as well as all their e-book new releases.

It's also worth noting that this also gives your local library a pretty big edge against Amazon's Kindle Unlimited lending program, which doesn't include any titles from Simon & Schuster or any other Big Five publishers. And, of course, the library is free. Just saying. Libraries forever!