Putting a library in Starbucks

It is not uncommon to find a coffee shop in a library these days. Turn that concept around, though – would you expect a library inside a Starbucks? Or maybe that’s the wrong question – how would you react to having a library inside a Starbucks? Well, that concept shuffling its way towards reality, as Starbucks is now experimenting with offering premium (i.e. non-free) content to users while they are on the free wireless that Starbucks provides. In fact, Starbucks actually has a collection development policy for their content – they are providing content in the following areas, which they call channels: News, Entertainment, Wellness, Business & Careers and My Neighborhood. They even call their offerings “curated content”.

Obviously, this isn’t the equivalent of putting the full contents of a library into a coffee shop, but it is worth our time to pay attention to how this new service approach from Starbucks evolves. Starbucks isn’t giving away content for free just to get customers in the door; they are looking at how they might monetize this service through upsell techniques. The business models and agreements are going to have impact on how libraries do business, and we need to pay attention to how Starbucks brokers agreements with content providers. Eric Hellman’s current favorite term, monopsony, comes to mind here – though in reality Starbucks isn’t buying anything, as no money is actually changing hands, at least to start. Content providers are happy to allow Starbucks to provide limited access (i.e. limited by geographic location / network access) to content for free in order to promote their content and provide a discovery to delivery path that will allow users to extend their use of the content for a price.

This begs the question – should libraries look at upsell opportunities, especially if it means we can reduce our licensing costs? At the very least, the idea is worth exploring.

Source: Yahoo News

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