IDATE study of commercial availability of digital books to French public libraries

The French Ministry of Culture and Communication commissioned a report from consulting company IDATE on e-book lending in French public libraries, to promote discussions about e-lending in French libraries, and review possible future directions and trends. The report is the result of a literature review and interviews with nearly forty experts from a number of targeted countries, conducted between June 2012 and February 2013. An English-language summary of the report is available, but the full report is available in French only.

The report surveys the current e-lending situation in Sweden, the UK, Germany, Spain, North America and the Netherlands, and compares these with the current situation in France. If found that:

  • E-book lending is comparatively rare in French public libraries, although the proportion of e-book titles available to French libraries is greater than in some other countries, and e-lending is much more established in Anglo-Saxon countries
  • No single model for e-lending exists, and models are still being developed
  • The relationship between e-books, publishers, and aggregators is critical to how e-lending can be implemented

IDATE also makes a number of recommendations for establishing a balanced e-lending framework, including:

  • Finding a middle ground for the use of DRM
  • The publishing sector should provide a “coherent offer” of e-books, which should include recent titles
  • Economic models should not be standardised while the market is still in development
  • Consortia licensing should be allowed
  • Statistical data should be shared between publishers and libraries
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