For libraries in the digital realm, Midwest Tape’s hoopla service has stood out from the competition through its defining commitment to a “transactional,” or, as some call it, the “always available” model. Since its launch in 2013, content on the hoopla platform (whether e-books, digital audio, or movies and TV) has been instantly available, 24/7 to users with a valid library card. Librarians also give the service high marks: it’s easy to manage, and efficient—content doesn’t expire, and the library only pays when something is checked out. But in a major move, hoopla has confirmed plans to expand its service to include multiple models for digital content—including the metered and perpetual access models currently embraced by the major publishers.
The expansion will mean that hoopla users will soon be able to check out a broader range of materials, including some popular bestsellers not previously available through the platform. Of course, the expansion means that hoopla users will also have to navigate another thing not previously associated with the platform: a holds list. Still, managing holds is hardly unfamiliar to library users, and Midwest Tape v-p and hoopla founder Jeff Jankowski says he’s confident users will recognize the immediate value of having more options available to them.
"The ‘always available’ model will remain at the core of hoopla’s service,” Jankowski stressed to PW, adding that the new content management strategy is meant to expand hoopla’s offerings beyond the titles available in a transactional, or cost-per-circ model. “That added choice and flexibility will offer greater access to content, and greater opportunities for discovery," he says. "We anticipate circulating more title choices for libraries and patrons to engage with. The more publishers that participate, the more titles will be in the mix, and the more libraries can utilize the title management tools that work best for them.”
That last point about management, Jankowski suggests, is especially significant. By supporting the full range of digital models available to libraries via the hoopla platform, Jankowski says hoopla will be able to provide the best, most actionable data about title demand and performance in the library market. And that should open the door to better informed business decisions in what continues to be an increasingly complex digital landscape for libraries.
“For example, opening up all the models—metered, perpetual, transactional—in a single location can offer libraries a more efficient means for content acquisition,” he points out. And, a fuller data picture can help publishers engage more efficiently with libraries, too. “If a publisher offers one lending model for their titles, we can work with them to explore layering in another model, for example, as demand fades and repurchasing full metered-access licenses becomes less economically viable for some libraries. By exploring all lending models in one location, we’re giving all stakeholders the opportunity to utilize the model that makes sense for their respective needs.”
The news comes just as the 2019 American Library Association Annual Conference kicks off in Washington, D.C., though the date of the expansion is not yet set—hoopla officials told PW the company is currently picking beta partners and expects to rollout the platform's expanded capabilities in early 2020.
The move comes amid continued strong growth for hoopla since its launch in 2013. The company is closing in on five million registered users, adding roughly 25,000 new users weekly, with something checked out virtually every second on the platform. The hoopla app, meanwhile, is highly rated in the Apple App Store (4/7 out of five stars, with more than 185,000 ratings) and consistently ranks within the top 10 reading apps. I
In 2015, readers could choose from 7,000 e-book titles and 16,000 audiobook titles via the hoopla service. Today, they can choose from 300,000, and 70,000 respectively. And the company now has more than 6,600 libraries using its digital lending services, and 4,000 publishing partners.
Jankowski says the company's growth is a testament to the importance of libraries. "At a time with seemingly endless disruption across the media landscape, libraries are now more relevant than ever in the mix of media options available," he says.