As the American Library Association Midwinter conference kicks off its run in Seattle, Macmillan has announced that it will begin its first e-book library lending program by the end of the first quarter. Using the agency model and working with a number of distributors, Macmillan will offer libraries over 1,200 backlist e-books from its Minotaur Books imprint. At launch, Baker & Taylor, OverDrive and 3M will be selling the Macmillan titles to library systems. Once purchased by a library, the titles will be available to them to lend for two years or 52 lends, whichever comes first. All of the books in the program will have the same digital list price.

Macmillan refered pricing questions to its distributors and OverDrive said each title will be $25.

The announcement, leaves Simon & Schuster as the only "big six" publisher without any library e-book offerings. Among the major publishers, Random House offers its full list to libraries for perpetual access, although at increaed price points. Harpercollins offers its titles to libraries for 26 lends before the licenses must be renewed. Hachette offers a portion of its backlist at increased prices, and Penguin recently expanded its pilot project offering windowed access to a portion of its catalog for one-year licenses.

Macmillan CEO John Sargent explained the choice of Minotaur for the pilot by noting that the imprint’s mystery titles have traditionally been very popular at libraries. Andrew Martin, publisher of Minotaur added, “The libraries have always been great supporters of the Minotaur publishing program and a critical mainstay of the category. I am delighted that our books will be the entry of Macmillan into library e-lending. We know mystery and crime fiction is a huge category for libraries and this collection will have something for everyone.”

Macmillan expects to add more Minotaur titles to the program as they move into backlist and will monitor the test results on an ongoing basis to determine its next steps. Head of sales Alison Lazarus said she “would love as many libraries who want to buy our books” to participate in the pilot.

Macmillan will have its usual library team at ALA and its distributors will be there as well to discuss the offering. Among the books that are part of the pilot are Pray for Silence by Linda Castillo, In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming, The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer, The Quiche of Death by M.C. Beaton, The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton and Heartsick by Chelsea Cain.