The Toronto Public Library has just found a new source of revenue.
Now in partnership with Indigo, the bookseller, the TPL has implemented a new system that allows its patrons to buy the same books they’re looking to borrow. Visitors searching for books on the site will see the option to ‘Buy your own copy,’ which will redirect them to Indigo’s webpage.
This Retail Affiliate Program began in March 2013. Through it the TPL will receive a 5 per cent commission from the sale of every book customers buy online. Ana-Maria Critchley speaks for the Toronto Public Library.
“We know that many of our (patrons) do a mix of borrowing books from the library and buying their own copies,” she said. “(They) will now have an opportunity to purchase books and at the same time support their library.”
Merilyn Simonds, author and chair of The Writers’ Union of Canada, likes the idea.
“As a library user,” Simonds said, “it seems to me like a terrific service … Anything that guides readers to greater accessibility to books is a good thing.”
Ben McNally, owner of McNally Books at 366 Bay St., agrees with Simonds that there are many positive aspects to the new partnership.
“On the surface … if it encourages people to buy books, then that’s good,” he said. “And if this means that Indigo is paying the library a referral fee then that’s good because then the library is getting some money.”
What’s more, McNally isn’t worried that the partnership will affect the libraries or his business.
“I think most people go to libraries because they don’t want to buy books in the first place,” he said.
He added that this method of buying books online won’t hurt sales any more than sites such as Amazon have in the past. And he said he appreciates that the TPL is supporting a local company.
“I’m glad the library is hooking up with a strictly Canadian company,” he said.
Indigo’s home office is located in Toronto.
The TPL is currently offering this service only on books with ISBNs, but Critchley said it will introduce a ‘Buy your own copy’ option for eBooks, CDs, DVDs and other materials in the future.
“We’re working on similar retail affiliate programs with Kobo and AbeBooks,” she said.