From NYPL President Tony Marx: Great News For E-Book Readers (and All Library Patrons)

A mere two years ago library patrons faced a frightening future: the market and use of e-books had been growing exponentially, yet most of the largest publishers were not willing to sell e-books to libraries. We faced a world where our libraries—which have long provided the public with free and open access to information—would not be able to provide books to their patrons.

NYPL President Tony Marx

NYPL President Tony Marx

The logjam is now officially broken. Today, Simon & Schuster announced that it will provide e-books to The New York Public Library, as well as the Queens Library and Brooklyn Public Library systems. With this news, five of the six major publishers have introduced programs to provide e-books to libraries.

I'm proud to report that we at The New York Public Library have played a key role in moving the industry along. We've worked with individual publishers, including Penguin and Macmillan. We formed the ReadersFirst coalition, which now includes 255 library systems representing 189 million readers, all demanding the same open, easy and free access to e-books that they have come to rely on with physical books. And, we've shared the gains we've made with other libraries, as is the case with today's Simon & Schuster news, which provides e-books to readers in Brooklyn and Queens.

What’s most important is what it means for patrons. Because of Simon & Schuster’s news, starting next month library patrons will be able to access many treasured Simon & Schuster titles for free, including "The Great Gatsby," the "Steve Jobs" biography and "The Road Less Traveled,” among countless others.

Last year, NYPL e-book readership increased 168 percent—and we look forward to continuing to meet patrons growing, and changing needs.