Helen Leesh, librarian and co-chair of Shelf Free, has published an advocacy letter ‘Amazon we want to talk to you about Kindle Unlimited’ on the Chartered Institute of Library Professionals Website.
The article raises some interesting points, especially regarding the possibility of Amazon and public libraries working in partnership. This would allow public libraries to provide access to more new release/bestseller ebook titles and provide Amazon with the opportunity to act as a community partner and to reach new customers.
The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (UK) has called for the end of stringent lending limitations on ebooks through public libraries.
Of the six major trade publishers in the UK, only three (HarperCollins, Random House and Hachette) offer ebooks to public libraries. Research conducted by Shelf Free in 2013 found that 85% of ebooks were not available to public libraries. Out of the top 50 most borrowed adult fiction books of 2012, only 7 were made available by publishers for libraries to lend electronically.
The full press release is available here.
Shelf Free is a group of individuals in the UK, who believe that e-books and e-lending should be an important part of services for public library users. Shelf Free is made up of representatives from at least 19 public library systems, consultancies and CILIP (although it is not clear if they represent those organisations in a formal capacity).
At present, the aims of Shelf Free seem to be raising awareness of the issues with e-books and e-lending in public libraries amongst people who work in libraries, the book trade, and library users.
Shelf Free’s own position statement on e-book services in public libraries and the range of titles provided states that they acknowledge the challenges that e-books represent to established publishing business models, but urges all publishers and libraries to cooperate in providing e-book services to library users, particularly in light of the recommendations of the Sieghart review.