Andrew AlbaneseWith the New York Public Library setting the standard, more and more public librarians will begin spelling “books” with an “e.”

Public libraries, of course, have offered e-books on loan for a number of years, but few readers – and not very many publishers – were ever pleased with the experience. Last month, the New York Public Library rolled out SimplyE, its much-anticipated e-book lending app that looks to solve many of the problems that have plagued library e-book users since the inception of the market.

“I believe the SimplyE app can be the breakthrough its creators envisioned for library e-book borrowing,” reports Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly senior writer. “It is easy to download and use—simply enter your library card number and PIN, and within minutes you can start borrowing e-books. The interface is well designed and easy to navigate. It looks like any commercial e-book platform.

There are currently important functional limitations, Albanese tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally, though the app comes with a promise of future upgrades.

“Currently, the app is available only for Android and iOS; it doesn’t work for Kindle e-books, PDFs, or with e-ink devices. But in an email to NYPL users last month, Johannes Neuer, NYPL’s director of customer experience, said that additional features are in the works, including a Kindle Fire version, a desktop reader, an mp3 audiobook format, as well as page bookmarking and text annotations.”

Every Friday, CCC’s “Beyond the Book” speaks with the editors and reporters of “Publishers Weekly” for an early look at the news that publishers, editors, authors, agents and librarians will be talking about when they return to work on Monday.

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