2008 is about to close: Another year of intense collaboration with publishers (both sides of the ocean), academic institutions, commercial partners and, last but not least, thousands of individuals who have collectively expressed their interest and trust in what we have been crafting step-by-step since 2000.
The community of subscribers using one of the many Cyberlibris (www.cyberlibris.com) digital libraries span a wide range of countries and continents: France, Belgium, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Algeria, Morrocco, Senegal, Congo, Brazil, Haïti, French West Indies etc... It is always a good feeling when you see that books are digitally travelling reaching people in remote places who more often than not have a limited access to bookstores, print books, libraries.
The feeling is exactly the same when you see French or Belgium students interacting digitally with books and with each other and, for that matter, spending less time in front of photocopiers. It is also a privilege when faculty members revert back to us to tell us that they have discovered books in their respective fields which they did not know about. It is even more rewarding to see faculty members' bookshelves shared with students who are no longer restricted to a single required text. No more text rationing for odd and undefendable reasons: The diversity of opinions, expert knowledge, reading styles is now a common currency traded by professors, students and librarians.
In this (re)discovery process predicated on a no-brainer subscription model, publishers are in an ideal position to observe that the classical (physical) best-seller hierarchy is more often than not turned upside down. Subscribers vote with their mice and in the course of doing so books and authors that had been crushed by the physical system regain a lease of life. A lease of life that has led in many cases to new editions of their books which were not supposed to take place to say the least. Another great feeling indeed!
2008 has been a great year not only for pure academic reasons. Thousands of individual subscribers, individuals, families, kids, public library patrons, have communicated their enthusiasm for this very simple notion of having access to a digital library (too) from home or from wherever they are. A fascinating move indeed from institutions with a clear agenda to individuals charactererized by their diversity of tastes, horizons, opportunities, constraints etc... And a rewarding one which has enabled us to spread the gospel abroad.
In 2009 Cyberlibris will launch (fully localized) in Spain and Sweden. South and North! Spanish and Swedish publishers have joined the hundreds of French and international publishers who endorse Cyberlibris business proposition. Again, this is a great motive of satisfaction to see that something that was conceived and built "locally" is about to fly under different latitudes: After all, attitude beats latitude!
This does not mean of course that homeland has been neglected or forgotten. In 2009, new services and new applications will be launched spanning many publishers, many territories and, of course, many people: litterature, novels, essays, theology, science etc...
2008 has been a very rewarding year. We learnt a lot and still are. We listened a lot too. And, we know all too well that each day is another day. No, we don't know whether or not 2008 has been the year of the e-book, whether or not 2009 will be. And, frankly, we could not care less: We do not believe in universal schemes, one size fits all proposition, consultants predictions and the whole (tech) shabam. Forecasters cannot even explain the past...
To all our (institutional and individual) users we want to express our deepest gratitude. Without them 2008 would not have been what it turned out to be, a year where the dream we had in 2000, namely to let subscription-based digital libraries inside each home, came true.
We are also grateful to the publishers community who has ventured with us to an unchartered territory that the music industry, among other content rightholders, did not want to explore: That of a different and complementary business model whereby, among other things, rich and varied collections of books can be accessible under a simple, flexible, subscription based and reasonably priced formula. This is the same model that will apply in Spain and Sweden.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to All!