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What’s New With Public Library Ebook Vendors
by
Posted On February 1, 2022

Library ebook vendors sign contracts with publishers to get books delivered to their platforms and then sell their licenses to public libraries at the prices the publishers set. The pandemic has accelerated patron use of ebooks, which has brought the fight for fair prices back into the spotlight.

While public libraries and publishers are hashing out what ebooks should cost, the vendors have been working to provide public libraries and their patrons with the best user experience possible (and make a profit themselves, of course—with the notable exception of The Palace Project). Let’s take a look at what’s new with some of the major library ebook vendors.


Axis 360


axis360.site.baker-taylor.com

Axis 360's homepage

Android app | iOS app | Kindle Fire app

Axis 360 iOS app

Axis 360 is Baker & Taylor’s digital media circulation platform for ebooks and audiobooks. Patrons can use the mobile app (or the browser-based Read Now or Listen Now options for ebooks and audiobooks, respectively) to view the library’s collection, check out titles, and read them. Axis 360 APIs integrate with ILSs and discovery layers, allowing patron interactions to occur directly in the library catalog. Libraries can turn on Patron Recommendations so they can respond to requests for titles.

Acquisition Models

Libraries can order content for Axis 360 via Baker & Taylor’s selection and acquisitions website, Title Source 360. Axis 360 offers quick, cloud-based delivery of content, with options for new title notification plans, collection development programs, and more, all with dedicated support. Axis 360 also has automatic delivery plans for popular series, test prep materials, guidebooks, and bestselling authors that are considered must-haves for a library.

Public Library Services

Baker & Taylor’s Libraries portal is here. Axis 360’s site states that Baker & Taylor maintains the richest bibliographic database available for library materials. Axis 360 helps facilitate partnerships: Its Community Share initiative helps libraries join up with their local K–12 schools to share an expanded selection of digital content with students. And its Pop-Up Library—a small Wi-Fi network creation device—allows libraries to partner with local businesses, government agencies, and others to make Axis 360 ebooks available in nonlibrary locations throughout the community. Potential readers simply log on to the free network—which has library branding—with their phone, tablet, or laptop and get access to the ebook collection; no need for the Axis 360 app or even a library card. They can save the ebooks for offline reading.

Latest News

Baker & Taylor president and CEO Aman Kochar wrote as part of the company’s press page in December 2021, “This has been a year of change for our industry and Baker & Taylor. Libraries across the world have continued to adapt to the impact of COVID-19, grappling with changing patron needs, building closures, and re-evaluating how budget is allocated to digital and print. … As we enter 2022, … I am energized. Our customers can look forward to agility in decision making, meaning that we don't just respond and react but pre-empt trends along with a continued commitment to innovation, efficiency, and library-first services.”


cloudLibrary


yourcloudlibrary.com

cloudLibrary's homepage

Android app | iOS app | Kindle Fire app | offline reading/e-readers

cloudLibrary app

Bibliotheca’s cloudLibrary for ebooks and audiobooks offers single-click downloads and technologically advanced customization options while reading. cloudLibrary content is integrated with Bibliotheca’s self-service interface so users can see titles during checkout. Libraries can include notifications in the app that are designed to increase awareness of their programs and resources.

Acquisition Models

Content acquisition involves flexible buying models, such as pay-per-use, and the ability to share collections with other nearby libraries.

cloudLibrary implemented the new Cirrus reader, which features multi-directional scrolling (the first outside of Amazon’s reader to do so); font selections, including Open Dyslexic and Large Font; and customizations, such changing spacing, margin size, and more. A horizontal view allows for two-page spreads, which enhances the reading of children’s books.

Public Library Services

The cloudLibrary eBooks and audioBooks product is promoted alongside two standalone yet related products: Comics Plus (digital comics, graphic novels, and manga) and cloudLibrary NewsStand (for digital magazines and newspapers, released in March 2021). Integration of both products with cloudLibrary eBooks and audioBooks is in development, Bibliotheca shares on each respective webpage. In September 2021, Bibliotheca added Hearst Media content to the NewsStand catalog, and in December 2021, it added Condé Nast content.

Latest News

Bibliotheca’s news page is here. In July 2020, cloudLibrary added RBmedia’s entire audiobook collection to its catalog under the one book/one user purchasing model. When titles get older than 1 year, they automatically become available through the pay-per-use model. CEO Ray Hood issued a letter in May 2021, stating, “Things are changing for libraries at lightning speed. It’s time to imagine what a library can do—what a library can be—today and tomorrow. Libraries are competing with the best in consumer technologies and can’t afford to stick with the status quo. At Bibliotheca, we aren’t just keeping up with the times; we’re inventing the future. Through integrated technology, we reimagine how libraries function to inspire and delight all kinds of people, wherever they are: at home, on the move, or within the library walls.”


Ebook Central


about.proquest.com/en/products-services/ebooks-main

Ebook Central's homepage

Android app (Bluefire Reader) | iOS app (Bluefire Reader) | offline reading | downloading/browser reading

Bluefire Reader app

ProQuest’s Ebook Central bills itself as the industry’s most intuitive ebook platform. Librarians can use it to manage discovery, selection, acquisition, administration, and reporting from a single source. And it brings content from multiple publishers into a single, unified experience. Its site offers a section of LibGuides, a Support Center, an Idea Exchange for sharing ideas with ProQuest, and more. It also includes a pledge to diversity, equity, and inclusion, noting that ProQuest aims to meet the needs of the library in ensuring representation of diverse users.

Acquisition Models

ProQuest has a P to E program that helps libraries offer print holdings electronically. If a library owns the print book, it’ll get a 50% discount on the Ebook Central list price of the title. A subscription to Ebook Central allows for simultaneous, multi-user access and adding titles at no cost. It also allows for title-by-title perpetual purchases and demand-driven acquisition. Its subscription models page, which lists every option, says that ProQuest offers more subscription models than the other ebook providers.

Public Library Services

Instead of a Public Libraries page, ProQuest divides Ebook Central into dedicated subscription hubs. Its Public Library Complete option is a multidisciplinary ebook subscription with unlimited access, research tools, and DRM-free chapter downloads. Libraries can use Public Library Complete as their foundational collection and then use its data to decide on other acquisition strategies that use other models, such as demand-driven acquisition. Its content focuses on subject areas such as studying, career development, art and leisure, and practical life skills. Reading on the Ebook Central platform comes with research tools, an offline reading option, and a mobile-friendly interface. It also comes with the Books Display Widget and certain elements from Syndetics Unbound to aid in discovery.

Latest News

A recent update from Ebook Central includes the May 2021 addition of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Ebook Subscription, which deeply examines issues of race, gender, religion, disability, and more. ProQuest shares all of its news here.


EBSCO eBooks


ebsco.com/products/ebooks

EBSCO eBooks' homepage

Android app | iOS app

EBSCO eBooks app

EBSCO Information Services offers EBSCO eBooks, which works with libraries to offer the most user-friendly ebook experience possible.

Acquisition Models

EBSCO’s librarians curate collections for purchase, such as one focused on content without DRM that was created in partnership with university presses and scholarly OA publishers. EBSCO calls it the most comprehensive, aggregated collection of OA ebooks available.

EBSCO eBooks offers a series of free webinars explaining library-specific topics, and it also has a newsletter, ECM Advisor, to keep users up-to-date on the product and new ebook and audiobook collections, publishers, and special offers. ECM stands for EBSCOhost Collection Manager, which helps libraries order and manage their digital collections.

Public Library Services

EBSCO eBooks’ Public Libraries page notes that its DRM-free options help set it apart, along with its wide selection, collections curated by librarians, flexible acquisition models, and more. New titles are added regularly to each collection at no additional cost to the library. At the bottom of the page, libraries are invited to sign up via professional email for the EBSCO Insights newsletter, which shares product news, public library events and trends, and product training and other tools to help libraries use EBSCO products. Under the Subscription Collections section, EBSCO calls out the specific Public Library Collection, which features general reference titles for both adults and juveniles. Its selling points include unlimited user access, complimentary MARC records, and usage data and reports.

Latest News

On the EBSCOpost blog, EBSCO eBooks does periodic updates on new and recently updated collections—here’s one from January 2022. It states, “For libraries, it is a time to reflect on the past year and evaluate the needs of their readers and how to fulfill those needs in the new year. … For EBSCO, it’s also a time to reflect and ensure that we offer the digital content libraries need to satisfy the research needs of their patrons. Our team has curated and updated dozens of e-book collections on timely topics such as multicultural studies and consumer health. Our commitment to offering DRM-Free collections also remains strong.”


hoopla


hoopladigital.com

hoopla's homepage

Android app | iOS app | Kindle Fire app

hoopla app

hoopla, the digital service of Midwest Tape, has movies, music, comics, and TV shows in addition to its ebook and audiobook offerings. Content can be accessed on the computer, tablet, or phone, as well as streamed on TV via devices such as Fire TV and Roku. Content can also be downloaded to phones or tablets for offline use.

Acquisition Models

Hoopla caters specifically to public libraries of all sizes, with its About page touting its unique model for immediate borrowing without availability constraints.

Public Library Services

hoopla’s Library page lays out the company’s core beliefs: that patron-driven acquisition is the future, that all titles should be available in all formats without upfront costs, that no longer waiting for titles will become patrons’ preference, and that the library of the future will center on engaging and serving everyone in the community with a great digital media experience. hoopla says it can drive circulations by expanding the reach of the library’s catalog.

A Helpful Links page offers links to an editorial calendar for hoopla events and campaigns, a training webinar, the marketing resource center, hoopla’s Vimeo and YouTube channels, and more.

Latest News

The company shares news here, and the most recent announcement is about a new type of hoopla Instant Borrow called BingePass. BingePass gives library patrons 7 days of unlimited access to (at launch, two) streaming collections: hoopla Magazines and the Great Courses Library Collection, counting as a single borrow. In January 2022, hoopla added the Curiosity Stream subscription video collection to BingePass, with more collections promised for later this year.


OverDrive


overdrive.com

OverDrive's homepage

Android app | iOS app | Kindle reading | web browser reading

Libby app

OverDrive’s Company page says it has the industry’s largest catalog of ebooks, audiobooks, and other digital media and that it works with 65,000 libraries and schools in 84 countries. (OverDrive is owned by investment firm KKR.) It offers three featured reading programs: the Digital Bookmobile, which helps public libraries and schools promote their digital catalog; Big Library Read, what OverDrive calls the first-ever global ebook club, allowing readers to read the same ebook at the same time from their library; and Perspectives on Reading, its quarterly online magazine about reading and its impact on communities.

Acquisition Models

OverDrive’s dedicated e-reading app for public libraries, Libby, syncs a patron’s reading across devices and allows for offline access via ebook and audiobook downloading. For U.S. libraries, patrons can send their library ebooks to their Kindle to read. With OverDrive’s Instant Digital Card, U.S. libraries can give people access to their digital collection without going through the process of signing up for a library card. The company encourages school partnerships via Public Library CONNECT, its program for reaching student readers with the Sora K–12 reading app.

Public Library Services

The Public Libraries page showcases how working with OverDrive helps libraries make the most of their digital collections. In addition to Kindle support for ebooks and car sound system integration for audiobooks, Libby works with Sonos speakers. And readers can simply read in the browser with OverDrive Read and Listen. OverDrive provides collection development help from a team of librarians, training resources for OverDrive products and services, and a marketing portal. Libraries can find even more guidance and help in the Resource Center.

Latest News

OverDrive has a page for press releases, including the recent post about the libraries whose loans surpassed 1 million in 2021 and the post about OverDrive’s 2022 priorities. That one states, “The company’s mission-based agenda centers on several high impact initiatives in content access, library and school advocacy, and technology and service innovations. Key components include expanding availability and access to popular content for all readers, with continued focus on addressing the needs of those most challenged to access books and educational materials.”


The Palace Project


thepalaceproject.org

The Palace Project's homepage

Android app | iOS app

The Palace Project app

The Palace Project, a division of LYRASIS, provides ebooks in partnership with the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and serves as a one-stop digital library solution because the app delivers content from any vendor (including its own marketplace). It was funded by the Knight Foundation and uses the open source Library Simplified platform designed by The New York Public Library.

Acquisition Models

The About page says that The Palace Project offers a suite of content, services, and tools for ebook, audiobook, and digital media delivery. The page describes the project’s goals: prop up the direct relationship libraries have with patrons, give libraries more control over the acquisition and delivery of econtent, advocate for libraries to publishers, and protect patrons’ privacy.

Public Library Services

The Palace Project has tools that help libraries manage and curate the patron experience and a content marketplace serving libraries with flexible lending models from publishers of all sizes, including Amazon Publishing. The site calls it the only not-for-profit, library-centered ebook and audiobook marketplace. It was developed in consultation with libraries, and The Palace Project is dedicated to helping libraries get better licensing models from publishers; in the meantime, it offers its own unique licensing models for much of the marketplace content. To join the marketplace, a library needs to sign up as a DPLA Cultural Services member (for free), and then it can purchase content that will be delivered via an Open Publication Distribution System (OPDS) feed. To help libraries start their collections, The Palace Project has a free collection of 11,000-plus open titles. See the collection here.

The Palace Project’s platform is an interoperable, end-to-end system for tasks such as digital collection management, hosting, circulation management, and patron experience management. It consists of various components. There’s the marketplace, and then the app, on which libraries display all of their econtent from multiple sources in a single interface. There’s the Palace Manager, which connects the library’s collection with the app by handling user authentication and serves up catalog data. It also combines purchased titles from vendors with OA materials that libraries want to make available. LYRASIS offers setup and onboarding services for the platform—with online orientation sessions for library administrators—along with low-cost, ongoing support. It configures the software, administers the cloud-based hardware, and helps libraries launch the app to patrons.

Latest News

Since The Palace Project is so new, it doesn’t have many press releases on the News page yet. Some of what it has announced so far is that as of November 2021, DPLA was in talks with Audible to add its content to The Palace Project, and in January 2022, The Palace Project was asking libraries to join a LYRASIS pilot project that builds on what it’s already done with The Palace Project.


Brandi Scardilli is the editor of NewsBreaks and Information Today.

Email Brandi Scardilli

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