Collaboration between libraries and publishers in the only way forwards, panellists argued at The Bookseller’s FutureBook conference today (21st November).
In a session titled “Library futures: discovery, digitisation and e-lending”, industry figures discussed how publishers and libraries could work together for mutual benefits.
Jonas Lennermo, chief content officer at Swedish print and e-book publisher and distributor Publit, described how the company had created the Atingo scheme as a way of bringing libraries and publishers in Sweden closer together.
The project, launched in August this year, allows publishers to make e-books available for libraries, who choose which books to add to their catalogue and loan out, with a payment made for each loan.
Lennermo said: “What is true in print is not true in digital. We need to reimagine what a digital ecosystem will look like. With digital, publishers and libraries didn’t know how to work together. Like any argument, they didn’t listen to other side. Then when money was mentioned, it got even worse. In the end, it was writers and readers who ended up unhappy. We wanted to bridge that gap by creating an independent marketplace.”
He added: “Our key ideas are to treat e-books not as a product, but as a service. They are not objects, they are not physical, they are just digital files. We see it almost as a rental service . . . then publishers can see libraries as a retail channel.”
Emma House, director for publisher relations at the Publishers Association, described how libraries and publishers in the UK have worked together in a changing digital landscape. She said: “We are in a new terrain, and libraries are still adapting. Some people demand immediate change, and despite our complex world, they want simple solutions, even though those solutions may not provide long-term stability. We prefer to move forward in a spirit of cautious experimentation.”
Speaking about e-book lending in the UK she said: “The perfect model to satisfy all stakeholders has yet to be found—and some wonder if it ever will be found.”
She added: “With the Sieghart Review, the pilots are looking at a range of things, using a broad range of books, and using different frictions such as length of loan. We want to see what impact e-lending will have on library membership, but also on book sales.”
Sandeep Mahal, partnerships manager at The Reading Agency, told delegates about how the charity had worked to bring publishers and agencies together over the past nine years, and would continue to use its data from the Summer Reading Challenge and its reading groups to help publishers with discoverability.
Nick Stopforth, head of libraries at Doncaster, and chair of the Society of Chief Librarians digital group, said: “I can see a new model of understanding between libraries and publishers. They bring their authors and experience and content, and we bring our userbase.”
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