Adobe patches ereader vulnerability but privacy concerns remain

A follow up article from Inside Higher Ed about Adode Reader’s recent ‘data breach’. Adobe have updated Adobe Digital Editions to version 4.0.1 which now encrypts the information its ebook and PDF reader collects about users.

In the article, Carl Straumsheim argues that the recent patch to address that privacy issue has spawned a new problem for librarians and readers who ‘no longer know how they are being monitored’.

Andromeda Yeltonn foreshadowed this problem in an earlier article, noting that ‘With ebooks, … the technology we have to put in place to enforce [digital rights management] and contractual requirements requires a fair amount of surveillance of infrastructure.”

Nate Holffender believes Adobe should not be applauded for satisfying the ‘bare minimum’ requirements set by privacy laws and basic standards of conduct. It also remains unclear how Amazon is using the encrypted data to track individual library users reading habits.

Amazon, we want to talk to you about Kindle Unlimited

Helen Leesh, librarian and co-chair of Shelf Free, has published an advocacy letter ‘Amazon we want to talk to you about Kindle Unlimited’ on the Chartered Institute of Library Professionals Website.

The article raises some interesting points, especially regarding the possibility of Amazon and public libraries working in partnership. This would allow public libraries to provide access to more new release/bestseller ebook titles and provide Amazon with the opportunity to act as a community partner and to reach new customers.

College Libraries Push Back as Publishers Raise Some E-book Prices

Another interesting article from the Chronicle of Education –College Libraries Push Back as Publishers Raise Some E-Book Prices.

The article explores a number of problems with the current ebook lending model already noted by this blog. This includes the rapidly increasing subscription prices charged by academic ebook vendors – including for short term loans, and limitations placed on interlibrary loans.

It also discusses the efforts of consortium groups such as the Boston Library Consortium, The Oberlin Group and the Orbis Cascade Alliance in negotiating licensing agreements with academic publishers to get a better deal for college libraries.

Ebook Pricing Hikes Amount to Price-Gouging

The Chronicle of Higher Education has published a letter to the editor by Susan Stearns, Executive Director of the Boston Library Consortium, and John Unsworth, President Elect of the Boston Library Consortium. The authors have expressed their frustration over the increased subscription prices for academic ebook titles for the 2015 fiscal year:

“In the BLC program, publishers charge libraries for ebooks based on a model that combines payment for short-term use of a title by a student or researcher with the purchase of the title after a few short-term uses. In this way, libraries pay full price for an ebook that meets the needs of multiple readers, and pay a fractional price for ebooks that are of use to only one or two people. This month the BLC was surprised to learn that a number of the publishers in this program planned immediate, significant, and unexplained increases in price”.

The authors cite the significant price inflation for electronic scientification journals as problematic, as it has far surpassed any increase in library acquisitions funding. BLC fears academic ebook pricing could go the same way, making subscriptions increasingly expensive to retain.

Petition for The Right to E-read

The European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations (EBLIDA) has created an online petition on change.org for the right to e-read. The petition seeks to give users the right to e-read by legalizing the lending of e-books from by libraries.

Specifically, EBLIDA wants:

– To provide our library users with the latest e-books as we do printed books;
– To buy e-books at fair prices and on reasonable terms;
– All citizens – not just those who can afford it – to benefit from free access to e-books in libraries;
– Authors to receive fair remuneration for the lending of e-books to the public.

EBLIDA is calling for the EU Commission to introduce a European copyright framework that is fit for purpose and allows libraries to acquire and lend e-books with an adequate remuneration to authors and other rights holders. The petition can be signed here

New York Library Director calls for libraries to buy ‘fair use’ books

Claire Kelly’s interview with Richard Naylor, Director of the William K. Sanford Town Library in Loundonville New York, is worth a read.

Naylor is encouraging libraries to only purchase ‘fair use’ ebooks, which are bought at retail price and without time limitations. He also expresses concern about overcoming the high cost of building collections of ebooks, where major titles cost 200-300% of retail price and expire after one or two years. His ‘Best of the Small Press’ list contains only well reviewed fair trade books. Like many others, Naylor is hoping the ‘Big 5’ publishers and libraries can eventually agree upon a system ‘that helps meet our mission of education and cultural enrichment without hurting publishers or book stores’.

CILIP: strict limits on library ebook lending must end

The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (UK) has called for the end of stringent lending limitations on ebooks through public libraries.

Of the six major trade publishers in the UK, only three (HarperCollins, Random House and Hachette) offer ebooks to public libraries. Research conducted by Shelf Free in 2013 found that 85% of ebooks were not available to public libraries. Out of the top 50 most borrowed adult fiction books of 2012, only 7 were made available by publishers for libraries to lend electronically.

The full press release is available here.

Urban Libraries Council’s e-Books Briefing Paper

Following up on their webinar of May 2013, the Urban Libraries Council, in collaboration with communications firm The Hatcher Group, has released their briefing paper Libraries, Publishers and Public Access to E-Books, as well as a two-page summary document.

The papers are aimed squarely at policy makers, and “can be used as resources to educate local, national and civic leaders in your community”. The key messages in the paper are:

  • Equal access to materials
  • Publishers’ policies are preventing the public from accessing e-books
  • Borrowing e-books from libraries is increasingly popular
  • Some book publishers are denying libraries access to e-books, while others significantly overprice titles
  • Pilot programs are encouraging, but need to be more widely implemented

The webinar podcast, briefing paper and summary paper are available together from the ULC’s website

Shelf Free

Shelf Free is a group of individuals in the UK, who believe that e-books and e-lending should be an important part of services for public library users. Shelf Free is made up of representatives from at least 19 public library systems, consultancies and CILIP (although it is not clear if they represent those organisations in a formal capacity).

At present, the aims of Shelf Free seem to be raising awareness of the issues with e-books and e-lending in public libraries amongst people who work in libraries, the book trade, and library users.

Shelf Free’s own position statement on e-book services in public libraries and the range of titles provided states that they acknowledge the challenges that e-books represent to established publishing business models, but urges all publishers and libraries to cooperate in providing e-book services to library users, particularly in light of the recommendations of the Sieghart review.

Authors for Library e-books

The ALA has launched Authors for Library Ebooks, a new campaign that asks authors to stand with libraries in their push for equitable access to ebooks.

The campaign argues that libraries support authors in a number of ways:

  • Exposure. Libraries help authors get noticed through author events, book clubs, readers advisory and features on library websites
  • Sales. Research shows that library loans encourage people to buy books. Many libraries now even provide an option for people to click and “buy-it-now” from their websites
  • Respect. Libraries honor authors’ work by protecting copyright and paying for the content they lend
  • Love of reading. Libraries help grow readers – and writers

and encourages authors to sign up to a statement of shared values, to talk to their publishers, and to discuss the issue through their own public communication channels. High-profile authors such as Ursula K. Le Guin, Jodi Picoult and Cory Doctorow are already on board.

With thanks to ALA’s District Dispatch.