Our January 2013 study Branches of Opportunity found that New York City’s public libraries are serving more people in more ways than ever before, but have been undervalued by policymakers and face growing threats in today’s digital age. The report recommended that libraries turn their online presences into intellectual homes for readers, places where patrons can discover new titles and even purchase them if they aren't immediately available to be checked out. Facilitating book purchases, we argued, could open doors with publishers that have been reluctant to make their ebooks available to libraries and perhaps even lead to new revenue opportunities.
We’re pleased to report that this recommendation is being implemented. Publisher Simon & Schuster recently announced that, over the next year, it will test a pilot eBook program with the New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Library. The participating libraries can acquire any Simon & Schuster ebook title at any time during the pilot’s one-year term. All of Simon & Schuster’s frontlist and backlist titles that are available as ebooks are eligible for the program, with new titles being made available simultaneous with their publication. And, most importantly, patrons can buy books through the library online and the library will receive a portion of the sale.