Bloomsbury unveils digital shelf for libraries

<p>Bloomsbury is to make selected titles available to library users via the digital platform Exact Editions. Bloomsbury said the &quot;unique, affordable and user-friendly online initiative&quot; would appeal to libraries &quot;under pressure to reach larger audiences with tighter budgets&quot;.<br /><br />The Bloomsbury Libary Online will launch on 4th May with 10 to 12 titles making up a &quot;Book Group&quot; category, including Galaxy Book of the Year, <em>The Suspicions of Mr Whicher</em>, by Kate Summerscale, Orange Prize longlisted <em>Burnt Shadows</em>, by Kamila Shamsie, word-of-mouth hit <em>The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society</em>, by Mary Ann Shaffer, and international bestseller <em>The Death of Vishnu</em> by Manil Suri.<br /><br />Libraries will be able to subscribe to individual bookshelves, including the Book Group, a children&#39;s shelf, a sports shelf, one devoted to Shakespeare and a reference books shelf. Libraries will be charged &pound;100 per 100,000 library users for accessing each shelf, with a minimum fee of &pound;250. The books are readable from the Exact Editions website.</p><p>Bloomsbury executive director Richard Charkin said: &quot;Libraries are hugely important to readers, communities and authors and are under severe financial constraints. While never forgetting the importance of books themselves, they&rsquo;re also being pressured to adapt to the demands of the 21st century: bridging the digital divide, serving multicultural communities, attracting new users and reaching into homes. The Bloomsbury Library Online serves to fill that hole and will hopefully blaze a trail for similar developments in the library system.&quot; It plans to compile its other shelves &quot;as quickly as possible&quot; with a minimum of 10 titles per shelf. Additional titles will be added to the shelves on a continuous basis.<br /><br />Library users will also be able to read the books using their iPhones or Blackberry devices, via a library portal link. Subscription payments will be made via the Exact Editions system, which has an e-commerce facility that already works with libraries. Daryl Rayner, managing director, said it was already working with a number of publishers, before Bloomsbury approached it with this idea. She said the system was not a direct competitor to companies such as OverDrive which is currently marketing its e-book solution to UK libraries. &quot;We take a pure-web approach, because that is where we think the future lies,&quot; Rayner said.</p>