ebook lending librariesMacmillan is putting its backlist in ebook lending libraries.

The big publishing house confirmed to Publishers Weekly that more than 11,000 titles will be available through OverDrive, 3M and Baker & Taylor.

Frontlist titles are not currently available.

Alison Lazarus, president of Macmillan’s sales division, told PW, it was done as part of the publisher’s “ongoing evaluation of e-lending.”

Macmillan had made a small group of titles available for e-lending less than a year ago with Minotaur Books imprint, a pilot program for lending e-books.

According to PW, there are no reported changes to Macmillan’s model. E-book titles have two years or are borrowed 52 times before they expire, and cost $25.

“As you know, 3M has been involved in multiple pilots expanding publisher access and reach into library,” Temeplis told PW. “For 3M and our customers, it is more confirmation that the library digital lending business is accretive to publisher sales and margins.”

This is good news for those who enjoy getting their e-books from the library. More and more companies seem to be joining the programs making books available for a wider audience.


  1. Slowly, I’m becoming convinced that every morning before they eat a bite of their breakfast, the executives of the major publishing companies take a ‘stupid pill’ to ensure that they don’t do anything sensible during the day. It’s the only way to explain their otherwise bizarre behavior.

    $25 for a title that can only be checked out for two years or at most 52 times? That’s not selling books. That’s not even renting them. That’s just highway robbery. Keep in mind that these are backlist titles. Even big city libraries aren’t likely to see such books checked out more than a few times. For small-town libraries, this plan makes no sense at all.

    If I were a librarian and someone requested a backlist title, I certainly wouldn’t pay Macmillan’s wild prices. I’d pick the book up used and online for a fraction of that $25. And what I had would be a title that could be loaned out again and again. Backlist titles are almost by definition books that can be picked up used and cheaply. Overpricing them makes no sense.

    In my case, I’ve got three ebooks available to libraries through Smashwords. All are truly sold. They can be checked out unlimited times and forever. Two sell for the same price as they sell to the general public. They’re so filled with helpful information about getting good medical care, I believe that many of those who check them out will buy them. The other is free to libraries and 99 cents in retail. It’s in a crowded field (Tolkien), so I want to do what I can to make it THE book to buy.

    If these publishing company executives would just listen to their kids and watch what they’re doing, they’d realize that good business means putting every backlist title they have into the catalog of every public library in the country and making money only from per-checkout rental fees. They’d have a potential customer base of 300 million, all without bending a knee to Amazon.

    As is, they’re going to discover, as they have with Amazon, that those who come first to a market get to establish how it operates. Being the last to arrive, they’ll find the rules already set by others to their detriment.

    And this is also likely to mean that independent authors will gain an advantage over those bound by contracts with these laggardly publishers. Reading an author’s ebook from a library for free often leads people to buy later books in a series.

    –Michael W. Perry, author of: Hospital Gowns and Other Embarrassments and My Nights with Leukemia (both $2.95 to own forever) and editor of The House of the Wolfings (free for libraries)

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