Editor's note: This post is adapted from an article to be published in the October issue of Marshall Breeding's Smart Libraries Newsletter.
Two Scandinavian companies—Publit a Swedish company involved with e-books and print on demand, and Axiell, which develops software for libraries and archives—have jointly launched Atingo, a company offering e-book lending products and services to libraries. Though in an early pilot phase and not currently available in the United States, the service provides an interesting example of a business and technology model implemented abroad. Atingo initially will focus on publishers and libraries in Sweden, but opportunities in other countries may develop.
Swedish E-book Lending Model
In Sweden, a model of e-book lending has been established whereby publishers receive a payment for each library loan made by a library to a patron. With this revenue model in place, publishers are more willing to engage with libraries for e-book lending. This fee-based transaction business model contrasts with the prevailing US model, where e-book titles are licensed with fees paid up-front. The Swedish model allows unlimited simultaneous lending of a title, while in the US, the models usually impose borrowing restrictions that limit the number of concurrent loans to the number of copies licensed by the library. These differing e-lending frameworks bring different budget management models to the library. In the US, the budget is based on fixed costs controlled by the library as set by the number of titles offered. In the Swedish model, the costs relate to the number of borrowing transactions.
In Sweden, like the United States, publishers decide when and whether to make their e-books available to libraries for lending. In many cases Swedish publishers release their e-books to libraries only when the commercial sales of the title have wound down.
Formed in August 2013, Atingo aims to advance the Swedish e-book lending model, leveraging the capabilities of Axiell as a provider of technology infrastructure to libraries and Publit’s experience in working with publishers. Atingo’s service is based on a dashboard created by Publit for librarians to manage their e-book collections, the Publit catalog of e-books aggregating titles from multiple participating publishers, and Axiell’s patron interfaces for e-book lending.
The company is jointly owned and managed by Publit and Axiell. Eva Houltzén, who joined Axiell in July 2013, serves as Atingo’s Chief Executive Officer. Other directors include Publit’s CEO Per Helin and CCO Jonas Lennermo and Axiell’s CEO Joel Sommerfeldt. The company is currently working to build its workforce.
Atingo plans to launch its new website for publishers and libraries this week. In the October issue of Smart Libraries Newsletter, I’ll describe in detail its dashboard for libraries and publishers, e-book lending technology, and transaction-based business model.