E-book publishers to gain access to 15,000 libraries

29 Jun 2011

If you think the speed at which e-books have become a viable marketplace is astonishing, a clever Irish publishing company is now about to offer e-book publishers access to public libraries for the first time.

Irish e-book distribution company ePub Direct plans to offer access to libraries for publishers’ e-book titles.

The move will give publishers access to 15,000 library outlets in 13 countries, 70 of which are based in the UK and Ireland.

ePub Direct distributes e-books to 85 online retail websites for publishers including Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Waterstone’s, Barnes and Noble and DirecteBooks.

Increased discoverability and exposure to e-book platforms is the key driver of this move and will be added at no extra charge to ePub Direct’s customers.

Gareth Cuddy, managing director of ePub Direct, explains why library distribution was the next logical step for the company and its more than 40 existing clients.

“To be able to offer library distribution to our customers has always been part of our strategy. Increased discoverability ultimately leads to higher sales for publisher’s titles,” Cuddy explained.

“The substantial growth in e-book library lending shows this is an area publishers need to be involved in. Only by enabling customers to decide when and how they read, borrow, and purchase their e-books will publishers see the greatest return for their e-book catalogues.”

Publishers can avail of this service from Friday, 1 July.

E-commerce giant Amazon recently revealed it is now selling more Kindle books than e-books – with 105 Kindle e-books selling for every 100 print books.

Long-term plans for publishers

The move mirrors the long-term plans for many publishers, including Clodagh Feehan, managing director of Mercier Press.

“We are excited by the opportunities presented by e-readers and e-books to access new markets both on and off the island of Ireland and working with a local partner has facilitated this.

“Our partnership with ePub Direct now means that Mercier books are available in digital formats to libraries and library users and as long-time supporters of libraries.

Libraries have also welcomed ePub Direct’s strategy.

Madeline Barratt, libraries strategy and performance manager, Enfield Libraries, on behalf of the London Libraries Consortium, said: “The London Libraries Consortium introduced e-books in 2010 and these are available to over 3m Londoners from home or library.

“We believe that libraries must be early adopters of technologies, such as e-books, which encourage reading, so that we evolve hand-in-hand with our audience and technology. Providing access to those who can’t pay for digital material is crucial, in the same way that we continue to provide free access to hard-copy materials.

“We chose a mix of e-book titles, from graphic novels, humour, mystery and romance, to non-fiction, these are proving very popular and are helping us to reach library users who don’t necessarily want to visit our physical branches,” Barratt said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years