ReadersFirst Guide to Library E-book Vendors, a new publication from the ReadersFirst Coalition

Take a look at this new publication from the ReadersFirst Coalition.  If you aren’t familiar with ReadersFirst, here is a bit more about them:

Libraries have a responsibility to fight for the public and ensure that users have the same open, easy and free access to e-books that they have come to rely on with physical books. They face two major challenges. The first is that, unlike print books, publishers are not required to sell e-books to libraries — and many do not. This is a complex and evolving issue. The second, addressed here, is that the products currently offered by e-content distributors, the middlemen from whom libraries buy e-books, create a fragmented, disjointed and cumbersome user experience.  more on the website.


January 14, 2014 — NEW YORK– The ReadersFirst coalition, representing more than 292 library systems and nearly 200 million library users, unveiled today a new guide to help library systems

make informed decisions as e-book providers to the public and to advocate for libraries having a greater role in shaping e-lending in our public institutions. The ReadersFirst Guide to Library EBook

ReadersFirst Guide to Library EBook Vendors ranks seven Library e-book vendors and outlines  best practices for the distribution of eBooks.


“We believe that in the long run these guidelines will be good for everyone, but most importantly for our patrons,” said Michael Santangelo, Electronic Resources Coordinator for BookOps and

ReadersFirst current coordinator. “E-books provide another way to reach readerswhether long standing library supporters or new users. Yet the full potential of lending e-books in libraries is

being held back by technological confusion that even library staff members, as well as their library patrons, have trouble navigating. We advocate for giving libraries the proper tools, real choices, and

open systems as concerns the discovery, circulation, and downloading of e-books and in order for these libraries to select or create user-friendly e-lending systems for their respective institutions.”


This inaugural publication focuses on one fundamental issue: the products currently offered by library e-content distributors create a fragmented, disjointed, and cumbersome user experience.


To fully assess e-book vendors and their platforms, ReadersFirst developed an evaluation form to be completed by vendors based on the organization’s four principles:

• Find e-books with an easy search of a single, comprehensive catalog including all of the library’s offerings.

• Access e-book checkouts, holds, availability and communications in the same way they manage other library offerings.

• Seamlessly access all e-books in one place, regardless of publisher or distributor.

• Download e-books that are compatible with all reading devices.


Major vendors responded to the survey, which included questions about whether a platform could store and index metadata, allow patrons to place an item on hold, provide detailed account

information, send delivery notifications to patrons and more. Vendor responses were ranked on a scale of 0 -100 based on compliance of ReadersFirst principles. Participating vendors included

noted e-book distributors Overdrive, Baker & Taylor Axis 360 and 3M Cloud Library.


Last year ReadersFirst issued a joint statement from libraries across North America requiring vastly improved e-book services for library users. Since then, it has held a vendor roundtable, presented at

conferences, and worked diligently to advocate on behalf of public libraries in regards to e-books. This guide is the most significant step forward it has taken in its advocacy efforts so far.




About ReadersFirst: ReadersFirst is an international group representing over 292 library systems and 200

million readers. ReadersFirst was founded to bring together libraries that are interested in improving e-book

access for public library users.