In a major announcement ahead of this week’s 2017 ALA Annual Conference, HarperCollins has agreed to make a selection of its e-book backlist titles available to public library users on a multi-user lending model, via Midwest Tape’s hoopla digital platform.

Starting in July, the publisher will make about 15,000 e-book titles available via hoopla, including works from bestselling authors like Neil Gaiman, Louise Erdrich, and Dennis Lehane. The agreement builds on a 2016 deal that made HarperCollins’ digital audiobook backlist available to library users on the hoopla digital platform. [UPDATE: other vendors too will be offering Harper titles via the model. See Below.]

In a statement, Adam Silverman, HarperCollins’ senior director, digital business development, suggested the company’s experience with digital audio via hoopla laid the groundwork for offering e-books. "We look forward to building on our success with this expanded agreement," Silverman said.

The announcement may be a next step for HarperCollins—which is offering just a portion of its deep e-book backlist to start—but it is an enormous step forward for library e-book lending, as HarperCollins becomes the first Big Five publisher to offer e-books to library patrons on an on-demand model.

Unlike the “one copy/one user” digital lending model most used in libraries, hoopla’s service is based on a multi-user “transactional” model. With hoopla digital, e-books (as well as audiobooks and other content, including comics, movies, TV shows) are instantly available to anyone with a valid library card at a participating library. Every time a title is borrowed, the publisher gets paid, not unlike popular streaming services like Netflix.

For library patrons, that means 24/7 access to titles in the hoopla collection—no waiting on a hold list. And for librarians, it’s an alternative to the complicated, inefficient licensing arrangements that have defined the early days of library e-book lending.

HarperCollins continues to offer its frontlist and most of its backlist e-books to libraries on a one copy/one user model, with e-book titles having to be re-licensed after 26 lends.

The expansion is also a huge win for hoopla digital, which continues to grow rapidly since it announced its foray into e-books in 2014.

Currently, four of the Big Five publishers offer audiobooks via hoopla. And earlier this year, the company announced new e-book deals with more indie publishers including Abrams, Britannica Digital Learning, the Quarto Group, Sourcebooks, and Lonely Planet, as well as the addition of hundreds more publishers through a deal with Ingram’s CoreSource Plus service, Independent Publishers Group (IPG), and eBOUND Canada.

At this year's BookExpo, hoopla officials said that its publishing category as a whole is surging, with e-book usage more than double over the previous year, and with more than 100,000 unique e-book titles borrowed in the first quarter of 2017 alone. In all, more than 1,500 libraries are now on the hoopla platform, and some 2,500 publishers.

In a statement, Jeff Jankowski, co-founder and owner of hoopla digital, said he was “thrilled” to expand the hoopla’s partnership with HarperCollins, and “promised that hoopla “will continue to make a significant investment to assemble a deep offering of titles for the libraries we serve.”

[UPDATE: In addition to Hoopla, Library Ideas will also offer HarperCollins titles via its multi-user platform Freading, and leading vendor OverDrive will also offer the titles via its "Cost-Per-Circulation" model. In a statement to PW, a HarperCollins spokesperson said the model is to available "all distributors in the library channel." In addition, the publisher said it doesn't consider this a multi-use model. "Rather, its a 'one copy/one user' model, where libraries purchase each copy loaned to a borrower, and can loan the copies concurrently."

The net effect, however, is multi-user access. "Instead of libraries having to replicate the physical model in the digital world, where they buy a book one copy at a time, and only one person can use it, the Freading model takes advantage of the natural advantages of the digital age: having unlimited copies available," explains CEO Brian Downing the Library Ideas release (via InfoDocket). “Libraries have a great need for a flexible eBook service...For instance, to help a book club, a library would have to rush out and buy 7 copies of an e-book and perhaps never realize much demand again. Now, in effect, they are just leasing those copies."

"Libraries and schools that select content available under the CPC model will only incur a charge when a reader borrows a title," explains an OverDrive blog post.]