Creating the Future of Ebooks | Peer to Peer Review

An opinion piece from Wayne Bivens-Tatum published by Library Journal last week, considers a future for ebooks that could be good for both libraries and publishers. It considers the problems and unsustainability of patron driven acquisition and short term loans for both publishers and libraries. It also considers some of the difficulties with consortium purchasing, citing the Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA) as an example.

His two previous posts, linked to in the first paragraph are also worth reading.

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The Hidden Costs of E-books at University Libraries

An interesting opinion piece by Peter C. Herman, professor of English Literature at San Diego State University. The article touches on recent debate which suggests print material, is better for students in retaining information when undertaking intenese reading and deep learning.

The article also touches on some other isssues previously discussed by this blog, such as licensing restrictions on eresources which make printing, downloading and saving portions of ebooks and journals difficult.

The comments section is also worth a look, there is some interesting debate about the pros and cons of eresource subscriptions.

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.

Ebooks and the demise of interlibrary loans

Wayne Bivens-Tatum, librarian at Princeton University, has published an article on Library Journal regarding interlibrary loan licensing restrictions for ebooks. He argues that:

“Libraries that progress towards an all-ebook future without solving these problems risk destroying the ILL arrangements that benefit all of our users… I’ve seen it argued that librarians are responsible for purchasing resources for their own users, and they can’t be concerned with the users at other institutions. That’s a shortsighted view that ignores the fact that schemes of cooperation like ILL are necessary for everyone, and that contributing to its demise will harm everyone’s users, including your own”.

The Oberlin Group Statement on Ebooks & Libraries

The Oberlin Group, a consortium of 80 US liberal arts colleges, has published a statement calling for academic libraries to reject licensing restrictions with publishers which prevent libraries sharing e-books via interlibrary loans.

When libraries ‘purchase or rent material we cannot share with citizens beyond our campus borders, we turn our backs on a great strength of the academy—the ability to build complementary collections and share them in good faith with researchers and the community of readers’. The Group also calls for libraries and publishers to work together ‘in making good scholarly literature available to everybody who needs it’.

The full statement is available here