Following a pilot project, Hachette has announced that it will make its full catalogue available to libraries to lend in e-book form. The program will begin next week, with titles available through vendors OverDrive, 3M, and Baker & Taylor. In a statement, ALA officials hailed the move as a sign of “real progress” in the contentious e-book lending issue.
“This step moves libraries closer to ensuring that patrons will be able to enjoy the same access to e-books as they have to print books,” said ALA president Maureen Sullivan. “It also recognizes the critical role that libraries play in bringing authors and readers together in the digital age.”
For Hachette, new e-books will be released simultaneously with print, and available for an unlimited number of circulations (one copy per user) at roughly “three times the primary physical book price.” One year after publication, the purchase price will drop by roughly half. A Hachette spokesperson said the company will review its library pricing model annually, and will continue ongoing discussions with stakeholders “such as the American Library Association.” The goal, the spokesperson continued, is to offer “the broadest possible access to authors’ work in a manner that will benefit readers, libraries, and authors.”
Hachette’s announcement is the latest in a string of positive developments for libraries in the e-book realm. Last month, Simon & Schuster, the final holdout, launched an e-book lending pilot with vendors 3M and Baker &Taylor. With Simon's move, all of the big six publishers are now enabling library e-book lending. In March, Penguin, which had pulled all its e-books from libraries in 2011, expanded a pilot project, and now makes its full catalog available to libraries. And, in January, Macmillan launched a pilot project with its Minotaur imprint. Random House offers its entire catalogue for “perpetual access” at a higher price to libraries, while HarperCollins offers its e-books for around the same price as print, but for a 26-lend period before books must be re-purchased.
“I grew up in public libraries and appreciate deeply their importance to readers hungry for more,” said Michael Pietsch, HBG CEO. “Our goal is to have authors’ work available on as many bookshelves and platforms as possible, and we’re looking forward to working with public libraries to serve their communities of readers as their reading habits evolve.”