In hopes of serving customers who don't take the time to visit brick and mortar libraries anymore, the Cleveland library system (and though it, many libraries throughout Ohio) is launching a new eBook lending program in March. Ohioans will be able to sign up for a virtual library card and download their choice of about 1,000 titles to their PDAs to view/read during the time the title is checked out in their name. They won't be able to print the title out unless the publisher gives permission.
I has a conference call with one of the companies involved in this new ebook-library industry in December because they were wondering about carrying Sherpa titles in their catalog. The business model was that each library would pay for a copy of one of our Reports which they could then lend out to 100 patrons, after which time the copy would electronically "wear out" (mimicing a hard copy book) and they'd have to buy another.
I figured the only way this would work for us is if either we were sure the library marketplace were people who would never of their own accord buy our reports, so we weren't cannibalizing potential sales. Or if they were people who would buy many reports thus turning our reports in the Library into more of a promotional vehicle for direct upsales.
For now, I'm not going ahead with it because the potential sales for niche products like ours were not big enough to make it worth the time spent signing the deal and managing the project. I could do other stuff with that ultra-precious time resource that would make more ROI for us. It's worth watching for the future, and for less niche publishers.
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