In a move that strengthens its offerings to libraries for managing e-books and other resources, ProQuest has acquired the assets of Coutts Information Services, including its MyiLibrary digital content platform and Online Acquisitions and Selection Information System (OASIS) from Ingram Content Group. These tools will complement ProQuest's existing e-book initiatives.
In this transaction, ProQuest gains ownership of Coutts Information Services, originally founded in 1969 and since 2006 a wholly owned subsidiary of Ingram Content Group. Coutts had previously expanded through its own acquisitions. Coutts Library Services acquired Martinus Nijhoff International from Swets Blackwell in March 2002.
Key products involved in the acquisition include the OASIS and MyiLibrary platforms. ProQuest Senior Vice President Kevin Sayer will oversee the operations of this newly added division, which will continue to operate from its main facility in Ringwood in the United Kingdom and Nihoff in The Netherlands. Coutts employees at its various locations will join ProQuest.
These two companies represent only a small portion of the business activities of Ingram Content Group. It retains its other businesses and services oriented to publishers, retail distribution of digital and print content, products for K-12 schools, and to libraries. Ingram will continue to offer, for example, its ipage online search, ordering, and tracking tool. Ingram is a major print-on-demand service provider and strategic partner for ProQuest in the fulfillment of print materials.
ProQuest is majority owned by Cambridge Information Group, with Goldman Sachs Partners holding a minority equity stake. Financial details regarding the purchase of Coutts were not released, with the deal expected to close in May 2015.
ProQuest Forwards E-book Strategy
ProQuest, a company offering a diverse range of content and technology products and services, has engaged in an ongoing effort to strengthen its position in the e-book arena. These activities include providing additional e-book content to populate the company's flagship content products as well as the creation of a specialized and dedicated e-book delivery and management platform. E-book content and technology has been a major focus of ProQuest's recent business acquisitions and subsequent development efforts.
ProQuest acquired ebrary in January 2011 from its cofounders Kevin Sayer and Christopher Warnock, who also served as President and CEO, respectively. Sayer joined Pro- Quest at that time and has since led the company's ever expanding e-book initiatives, currently as Senior Vice President and General Manager, ProQuest Books.
In January 2013 ProQuest acquired the Australian company Ebook Library, a company known for an innovative set of e-book acquisitions and lending models. These services included demand-driven acquisitions, short-term loans, and ability for libraries to purchase individual chapters for coursepacks. The company also developed and patented a service of Non-Linear lending which enables a library to purchase a single copy of a title that can be made available for multiple concurrent lending to patrons. EBL was founded in 2004 as a spin-off of Ebooks Corporation. Kari Paulson, President, joined ProQuest following the acquisition and currently serves as Vice President, Market Development.
In January 2015 ProQuest announced that it would brand its new e-book platform as ProQuest Ebook Central. This platform will incorporate elements of its previously separate EBL – Ebook Library and ebrary products and bring all of its e-book titles into a single management and delivery service. Platform components include LibCentral, a portal for library personnel to build and manage their collections, based largely on the EBL administrative console, and the Ebook Central Reader as the patron interface that carries forward features and technologies of the ebrary e-book reader.
With ProQuest's acquisition of Coutts, it significantly expands its already massive catalog of e-book titles. This move also consolidates the number of general e-book platforms oriented to academic libraries, with three of the four major platforms now under ProQuest. In addition to ebrary and Ebook Library – EBL, the company now owns MyiLibrary launched by Ingram Coutts in 2004, another major competitor in this arena. The fourth pre-consolidation offering in this arena Ebooks on EBSCOhost, descended from NetLibrary. Another set of services, including Over- Drive, 3M Cloud Library, and Baker & Taylor's Axis 360 focuses primarily on the public library sector. Many individual publishers offer their own e-book platforms. Academic library general e-book services have narrowed to mainly Pro- Quest and EBSCO.
ProQuest Resource Management and Workflow Strategy
ProQuest also gains an additional staff-oriented acquisitions tool. In addition to those already in its arsenal oriented to electronic resources, including 360 Resource Manager and Intota, ProQuest now gains OASIS, which many academic libraries use as one of their resources for the acquisitions of monographs.
Libraries use OASIS to search, select, and order books and e-books from a wide range of publishers and suppliers. The service includes downloadable MARC records that correspond to materials ordered with no additional fees. The service includes features such as the ability to monitor standing orders, get notifications for new titles within defined areas of interest, and manage approval plans. OASIS also includes detailed reporting capabilities and the ability to track ongoing orders and activities.
As a platform that enables libraries to select titles from many sources, OASIS has established relationships with many different providers. These include EBSCO, a direct competitor of ProQuest. As OASIS comes under the ownership of Pro- Quest, EBSCO has stated that it will continue offer its catalog of 700,000 e-book titles through OASIS, an example of the many scenarios in the industry where organizations compete in one context and cooperate in others.
ProQuest also continues the development of Intota v.2 as a library services platform to manage a library's digital and print resources. Intota v.1, providing a new set of tools and workflows for electronic resources, has been completed and implemented by around 30 academic libraries. Intota v.2, which expands the scope of the platform to include print materials, is anticipated to be ready for production use in 2016. No specific announcements have been made regarding expected integration or synergies between OASIS and Intota.