Library eBook updates from the ALA conference

I attended the American Library Association Conference in late June and was able to speak with a variety of ebook vendors about updates to interfaces, products, and services.  Below is a list of vendors with highlights for each.  I didn’t make it to every vendor, so if I have left someone off the list or you have information to add, please contact me.

ALA OITP Digital Content Working Group Update

Selected highlights from the previous 6 months:

  • Simon and Schuster expansion of pilot program to all US libraries, achieved through dialog with ALA and librarians
  • State of Connecticut ebook platform law passed to authorize state library to create statewide platform to share books
  • Paris book fair panel and ministry meetings
  • PLA panel -PLs in market place, business of digital content
  • American Libraries supplement, Digital Discoveries, online and in print
  • 2014 article in library and book trade almanac – ebook phenomenon from library and industry perspective
  • DCWG written about in publishers weekly, “Widely regarded as a success.”
  • Sari will be the Executive Board liaison to the DCWG in her new role as ALA President elect

Future directions for the DCWG

  • Incoming co-chairs will be Erika Linke, Carnegie Mellon University and Carolyn Anthony, Skokie PL.  New membership roster soon to be announced.
  • Focus for coming year is ebook access, digital preservation and media.
  • Be more proactive in future and determine where they can have the most impact. What is the best way to communicate with members? Is the supplement effective?
  • Access- pricing, role of sales in access, libraries as publishers, library managed platforms, consortia, and more Digital preservation and media beyond ebooks

Baker and Taylor

  • What makes Baker & Taylor different is the ability to order print and digital content together as they have integrated CD across formats.
  • Title source 360 – the alternate formats tab checks for all formats of the same book, easy ordering across formats
  • EPUB3 format coming soon, hopefully before years end
  • Video solutions by next year
  • Big next step for them is to mask the various apps necessary for consuming content and have Axis360 be the only app. They will guide patrons from the borrowing phase to the consuming phase based on content desired and software needed.
  • ILS integration has been a focus as well as user design. They have had several focus group meetings with librarians to make changes and preview development before release.


Knowledge Unlatched


  • This start up company last year had a really nice sized booth at ALA.  They are currently working with Douglas County Libraries and have many new investors. Worth taking a look at.


  • Big news – elimination of Adobe Digital Editions for the download process coming soon!
  • Warner Brothers streaming videos now available
  • Enhanced ebooks with EPUB3, including two-page children’s illustrations, synced audio/text and right-to-left alignment
  • Embedded samples can be found in the Huff Post, BuzzFeed, and Bing along with several other book sites and search engines.  Directs new customers to nearest library, promoting borrowing.
  • New business model – cost per circulation – now being offered to vendors as an option.  Entire catalog is made available but libraries only pay for what is used.



  • New ebook platform should be live by September 15th. Offers offline viewing, responsive design, and a great reader experience.  The interactive titles are also going to be available for offline viewing.
  • 52 Cavendish databases on new platform, still a separate platform from Rosen.
  •  Financial literacy database won best overall reference source.
  • Launching a new book series on gaming in teaching.  Chris Harris is the editorial director.


  • New App Interface with Personalization: As explained to me by Heather McCormack from 3M, “In the new app, they have embedded the main BISAC categories at the top of the screen to improve browsing: Fiction, Nonfiction, Juvenile Fiction, and Juvenile Nonfiction. When a patrons highlights one of these areas, the subcategories populate underneath it. Patrons may click on these, and whatever books that the library has in those areas appear on shelves below. Even better, if a patron is an especially big fan of, say, historical fiction, she may star the category, rendering it a “favorite,” and then set the app so that it saves new releases that the library buys in that category. “
  • Pre-Pub Buying in CAT
  • eAudiobooks in US & CA: E-audiobooks will be searchable the way ebooks are in our apps. This program derives from our partnership with FindAway World
  • Fixed Format EPUB & EPUB3: Supporting these formats will mean that the Cloud will be able to stock many iconic picture books in the app, e.g., Dr. Seuss, Curious George franchises. According to Heather McCormack, “it’s the beginning of a real Cloud children’s ebook collection. It also means supporting epub3, which many of our partners see as the new standard.”
  • Standing Order Purchases soon – able to account for the most popular authors and series via standing order and free up more time for other kinds of collection development.


  • Another start up company left a big impression with ALA – TotalBoox.  TotalBoox has a model based on paying for pages read.  They have a nice title collection to start and continue to add more publishers.  They hosted a session which I attended and will post notes and slides of soon.

  • Back in the spring launched a new service called “Thanks for Ungluing.”  “Thanks for Ungluing” books are Creative Commons licensed and free to download. You don’t need to register or anything. But when you download, the creators can ask for your support. You can pay what you want. You can just scroll down and download the book.

2 thoughts on “Library eBook updates from the ALA conference”

  1. What a great assortment of improvements and advances!

    I was wondering if you knew or can say if there was any discussion of ease or difficulty of searching for self-published authors on OverDrive?

    My understanding is that titles like my own (via Smashwords) are under a different pull down menu, and must be searched separately?

    I’ve had several folk in my town (Austin) that have gone to the library and have had no luck with librarians finding any of my titles.

    It’s possible of course, that, my luck :-) I’m on the tail of the two month (on the 22nd) process of listing all the hundred of thousands of titles from Smashwords on OverDrive, but I’ve found no way to verify, either via my library or Smashwords or OverDrive, is my titles are there or not.

    I believe library access, along with companies like Scribd and Oyster, are going to be more and more a big part of how people find and read ebooks, and I’d very much like to be a part of that :-)

    OverDrive’s new “business model – cost per circulation – now being offered to vendors as an option. Entire catalog is made available but libraries only pay for what is used” – seems like a great idea.

    Thanks so much!

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