Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bloomsbury Launch Library Online

Adam Hodgkin has a post about a new and interesting initiative by Bloomsbury (UK) to tackle the library market.
Bloomsbury have held steady to their target of developing a service for libraries, initially primarily in the UK. It has turned out to be pretty much the project that they explained to us before Christmas. A shelf for libraries of some of the best books, from contemporary authors, which will grow and which will also serve to promote sales of the print books and public awareness of the authors selected. I suppose that there is, in this chosen vehicle, an element of quasi-political support for public libraries - a resource which publishers rightly hold to be key to the flourishing of a literary culture. Nevertheless it is interesting that one of London's leading Trade publishers should set such a priority on the support of public libraries, and that they should fashion such a service for a market which must be a tiny fraction of the market for their print publications.
Here is the Bloomsbury release:

Bloomsbury is set to transform the relationship between publishers and libraries, and between libraries and readers, with an innovative development in public lending: The Bloomsbury Library Online.

At a time when the British library system is under pressure to reach larger audiences with tighter budgets, and when the reading public is feeling the pinch, Bloomsbury is launching a unique, affordable and user-friendly online initiative.

In association with and using existing technology in libraries across the country, Bloomsbury is rolling out a groundbreaking e-lending strategy which will allow readers toread collections of bestselling books at local library terminals or with the use of a library card on home computers and internet enabled devices.

The Bloomsbury Library Online will consist of a number of themed shelves: children’s books, sports titles, international fiction, Shakespeare plays, reference books and more. They will launch with a shelf of Book Group titles including Galaxy Book of the Year, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, by Kate Summerscale, Orange Prize longlisted Burnt Shadows, by Kamila Shamsie, word-of-mouth phenomenon The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer, and international bestseller The Death of Vishnu by Manil Suri. Embracing the advantages of the online format, users will be able to read the book, search the text, access author interviews, reviews, press features, and links to specially commissioned reading group guides.

How will it work?
• The Bloomsbury Library Online will be sold on subscription – libraries will subscribe to a bookshelf for a year at a time and will pay according to the size of population served.
• New titles will be added on a continuous basis – free of charge within the subscription year.
• Users will click through from the Library terminals or through an online portal accessible via any web browser (including those found on iPhone and Blackberry) anytime, anywhere in the UK.
• Text accessible through screen readers and therefore available to blind and partially-sighted users.

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