Here are a few coronavirus-related ebook news stories I ran across today.

Library ebook lending service ProQuest has announced that its Ebook Central program has partnered with over 150 publishers to provide unlimited library lending access to their titles for the duration of the virus epidemic.

ProQuest Ebook Central customers impacted by COVID-19 get unlimited access to all owned titles from these publishers through mid-June. This means that all licenses – including single-user and three-user models – have automatically converted to unlimited access for that period, helping librarians bridge the gap for their patrons in this rapidly changing environment. The unlimited access also applies to additional titles purchased through mid-June.

Image-1.jpgUK paper The Sun reports that Apple is providing free ebooks and audiobooks to US and UK residents via the bookstore of Apple’s own Apple Books app. I checked it out myself, and there are indeed a lot of free titles there. I’m sure that many of them were already free as promotions even before the coronavirus epidemic, much the same way that Baen’s Free Library is, but still, any good source of free reading material can only help people who need to find more things to do to fill up their time.

South Korean ebook startup Millie’s Library is offering free access to its 50,000 titles for two months, as a way of giving back to society. The service normally costs $8 per month. It is also working with South Korea’s government to provide access to its service through the government’s smartphone app for residents under quarantine.

Meanwhile, just as crisis situations bring out the best in some, they can bring out the worst in others. Independent reports that Amazon has seen a huge uptick in plagiarized self-published works about the coronavirus epidemic, as unscrupulous operators copy and paste online news stories or make ebooks of short articles on corona-related subjects in order to make a quick buck (or pound) from worried readers.

Not all the new corona-related ebooks are for profiteering. The UK paper Express & Star reports that Cornish mother and children’s book author Ellie Jackson was so worried about the impact of the virus on children that she was moved to write a children’s ebook about it. The book, The Little Corona King, seems to be available on Apple Books and Google Play Books but I don’t see it anywhere else at the moment. (I wonder if any preventative measures Amazon might have imposed to try to stop coronavirus profiteering are keeping it off Amazon.)

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