Simon & Schuster Expands Its Library Ebook Pilot Nationwide

June 26, 2014

There is good news (PDF file) on the ebook front, as Simon & Schuster converts its pilot on library ebook lending to a national program. Frankly, some of us, yours truly included, once thought that this day would never come.

Flash back to a wintry day in 2012 in New York City. This was the first American Library Association (ALA) leadership delegation visit to New York City for ebook advocacy. The visit at Simon & Schuster was led by then–ALA President Molly Raphael and included ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels, ALA Digital Content Working Group Co-chair Bob Wolven, and me. The discussion was dominated by the theoretical problems that library lending might create—with much less said about the beneficial aspects of library involvement in the ebook market such as promoting discovery of works. It was an interesting discussion.

The prospects seemed bleak.

But last year, Simon & Schuster began its pilot, first in New York City and then in other markets. And now all markets. A fitting and timely development to conclude at this conference Sari Feldman’s and Bob Wolven’s three years as DCWG co-chairs. This is going out in style!

In today’s press release, ALA President Barbara Stripling concludes:

“The Simon & Schuster development is a welcome acknowledgment of our advocacy, the importance of the library market, and the key role of libraries in the nation’s communities. ALA looks forward to continuing discussions with authors, authors’ representatives, publishers, distributors, and retailers to create new opportunities to support a healthy reading ecosystem for the digital age. Let’s celebrate today’s progress, but also be mindful that a long and winding road remains ahead of us.”

To learn more about and discuss library ebook lending issues at the national level, come to this session at the ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas: “ALA and Moving Ahead with Digital Content,” which takes place on Saturday, June 28, 2014, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. in Room N255 of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

ALAN S. INOUYE is director of ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy and program manager of the ALA Digital Content Initiative.