Baker & Taylor has signed an exclusive multiyear deal with digital infrastructure provider Reciprocal to deliver books in electronic form to thousands of B&T's client libraries.

Under the agreement, Reciprocal will build a digital library and content-delivery system for the library market to the specifications of Baker & Taylor's Informata e-commerce business unit. Content will be delivered to libraries as part of a digital subscription service provided by Informata, enabling library patrons to browse e-books online or download and check them out of the library for specified periods. Baker & Taylor and other wholesalers will sell digital content through Informata's subscription service to libraries for their patrons' use, and Reciprocal will resell content in markets that Baker & Taylor does not currently serve.

Baker & Taylor will charge participating libraries an annual subscription fee for the digital library, which offers a catalogue of digital content and Web tools for each participating library to customize.

"The patron's experience will be of each library's own Web site," Informata's chief marketing officer Pamela Smith told PW. "We expect that there will be two basic models: one for reading online and another for downloading to read offline, with local variations on each. Different models will have different prices attached, but basically it will probably be similar to print models—one copy, one use, rather than unlimited uses of a single copy. The DRM packages will allow each library to set its own rules about length of time an e-book can be used."

Reciprocal officials expect the program to be underway some time in the fourth quarter of this year.