By Molly Raphael
Earlier this week, I led a four-person ALA delegation to New York to meet with Hachette Book Group and four national organizations that represent authors. Meeting with Hachette was a priority, as we were unable to meet with them on our last delegation trip to New York. But most of our time focused on author groups, to provide us with the opportunity to improve our understanding of their concerns in the ebook era and articulate our concerns so that we may identify areas of common interest, for which we might engage in collaborative advocacy.
We had a very promising meeting at Hachette. As you may know, Hachette discontinued offering their new ebook titles to libraries as of April 2010, though Hachette continues to sell its backlist (i.e., titles with publication dates prior to April 2010). Going in to this meeting, we were hoping to establish a relationship with Hachette and to persuade them to give serious consideration to providing libraries with access to its newer titles.
It quickly became obvious that Hachette Book Group executives and digital strategists have spent considerable time thinking about the library ebook market. Hachette sees libraries as strong partners because of our benefits as direct customers and marketers of their titles, and they recognize libraries’ place as an integral institution in communities that must be supported.
More specifically, we were pleased to learn that starting this spring, Hachette is conducting a pilot with two ebook distributors for libraries, which will bring a selection of HBG’s recent bestselling ebooks to 7 million library patrons. These pilot programs will help HBG learn more about library patrons’ interests, usage, and expectations, and help the publisher devise the best strategy to reach the widest audience of ebook readers in libraries.