The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) today announced that it has signed a much-anticipated agreement with Amazon Publishing to make all of the roughly 10,000 Amazon Publishing e-books and digital audiobooks available to libraries, the first time that digital content from Amazon Publishing will be made available to libraries.
In a release today, DPLA officials said that lending will begin sometime this summer, with Amazon Publishing content to be made available for license via the DPLA Exchange, the DPLA's not-for-profit, "library-centered" platform, and accessible to readers via the SimplyE app, a free, open source library e-reader app developed by the New York Public Library and used by DPLA. Library users will not have to go through their Amazon accounts to access Amazon Publishing titles via the DPLA, and DPLA officials confirmed that, as with other publishers DPLA works with, Amazon will not receive any patron data.
The executed, long awaited deal comes nearly six months after Amazon Publishing and the DPLA confirmed that they were in talks to make Amazon Publishing titles available to libraries for the first time.
The deal represents a major step forward for the digital library market. Not only is Amazon Publishing finally making its digital content available to libraries, the deal gives libraries a range of models through which it can license the content, offering libraries the kind of flexibility librarians have long asked for from the major publishers.
DPLA officials said that Amazon Publishing titles will begin with four available licensing models this summer:
Unlimited, one user at a time access, two-year license
Bundles of 40 lends, available with a maximum of 10 simultaneously, with no time limit to use the lends
Bundles of five lends, available simultaneously, with no time limit to use the lends
26 lends, one user at a time access, the lesser of two years or 26 lends license
The agreement is also a major coup for SimplyE and the Digital Public Library of America’s growing e-book platform, the DPLA Exchange. After all, to license Amazon Publishing titles libraries will need to use the DPLA exchange and patrons must deploy the SimplyE app to access them. It is not clear whether or how soon Amazon Publishing will work other vendors in the library e-book market, but Michele Kimpton, director of business development and senior strategist for the Digital Public Library of America, told PW last year that the deal was not being negotiated or designed to function as some kind of DPLA exclusive.
DPLA officials say Amazon Publishing now joins nearly 1,000 publishers in the DPLA Exchange, and is one of more than two dozen publishers offering a range of new licensing models.
The deal will also serve to blunt a major criticism of Amazon, which until now had not made its digital content available to libraries under any terms—an exclusion that librarians have loudly criticized for years, and which was brought to the attention of lawmakers in an ALA report last year. In fact, an Amazon spokesperson revealed news of the potential deal with DPLA last year after reporters from The Hill contacted the company regarding a petition urging Congress to pursue “an antitrust investigation and legislative action to preserve and expand library services.”
For more about the DPLA Exchange, librarians can check out the DPLA's e-book work via the organization's web site, browse the Exchange, check out this FAQ, or get in touch directly.