Simon & Schuster has recently announced that it will allow libraries to opt into the ‘Buy it Now’ program. The publisher began offering all of its ebook titles for library lending in June 2014, with libraries required to display a ‘Buy it Now’ link, which allows library users to purchase titles directly from the publisher rather than check it out from the library.
The American Library Association President Coutrney Young has welcome the announcement:
“We appreciate that Simon & Schuster is modifying its library ebook program to provide libraries a choice in whether or not to participate in Buy It Now. Providing options like these allow libraries to enable digital access while also respecting local norms or policies.
The full press release on the ALA website is available here.
Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) is a reading app used by many libraries and readers around the world to access and read ebooks.
Adobe has come under recent scrutiny for tracking users in the app and uploading their data to servers. The plain text transmission of data was first reported Oct. 7 presumably stretches back as far as the release of ADE 4.0 in early September.
The American Libraries Association President Courtney Young stated in a press release
People expect and deserve that their reading activities remain private, and libraries closely guard the confidentiality of library users’ records… The unencrypted online transmission of library reader data is not only egregious, it sidesteps state laws around the country that protect the privacy of library reading records. Further, this affects more than library users; it is a gross privacy violation for ALL users of Adobe Digital Editions 4.”
This was followed by a statement from the Canadian Library Association.
GoodEReader has published a story on the difficulties US libraries have had with ebooks. Jeanette Woodward, author of a number of books including The Transformed Library: E-books, Expertise and Evolution, sums up the problem:
“Trade publishers have always had an unrealistic idea of library circulation… They imagine that library books circulate 50 or more times, causing them to lose 49 sales. This attitude, of course, ignores the many books that circulate rarely and assumes that library readers would purchase every book they borrow. Because the industry is in financial difficulty, it may be even more anxious to lay blame on libraries.”
Woodward notes that individual libraries have limited power when dealing with ebook vendors, stressing the importance of professional organisations such as ALA in negotiating with publishers.
The article also applauds the 3M Cloud Library Service, which recently unveiled new tools that actually allow libraries to sell eBooks and make a commission. This puts money in the pocket of the library, the digital distributor and publisher. The article predicts that libraries as retail, is a trend that will continue to grow in 2014.
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.
Today’s twitter search on #ebooks and #libraries brings us the following:
Dimensions in business models for public library e-lending which summarizes in tabular form the the variety of issues and options that libraries and library policy makers need to take into account when negotiating for ebooks and/or developing policies.
You can read a summary of the themes of this supplement in Jazzy Wright’s District Dispatch blog post How libraries are evolving in the new digital realm.
The ALA’s Digital Content and Libraries Working Group released EBook Business Models: a scorecard for public libraries on January 25, 2013.
The report examines specific variables often seen in ebook license contracts, and is designed to help libraries and librarians conceptualize licenses holistically instead of fixating on one aspect of a contract in isolation. It describes model terms that libraries and librarians should look for in their dealings with ebook publishers and distributors, as well as conditions libraries should avoid.
The ALA’s Digital Content and Libraries Working Group was formed in 2011, and have been involved with much of the ALA’s advocacy efforts since then. These include meeting and establishing relationships with publishers, and publishers’ and authors’ peak bodies, and presenting and communicating issues both to ALA members and internationally.
DCWG members regularly contribute to the E-content blog at American Libraries Magazine, providing discussion of the issues and new developments around ebooks in libraries, and updates of the work of the DCWG. The group also has a space on ALA Connect.
The DCWG and ALA (presumably) created the Ebooks & Digital Content website, which is a resource to support libraries in their transition from print to digital.
ALA President Maureen Sullivan released an open letter to America’s publishers in September 2012, after talks with publishers failed to achieve any real results.
It’s arguable whether the letter had any direct impact on publishers’ behaviour or policies, but it at least attracted some media attention to the issue.
The ALA’s E-Book Media and Communications Toolkit is designed to support librarians in advocating for fair e-book lending practices, and in taking action in their communities. It provides templates for various documents, such as op-eds, letters to the editor, press releases, public service announcement scripts etc., to communicate the situation with ebooks as libraries, example editorials and news reports, advice on dealing with the media, and advice on outreach via social media.
A survey of library patrons, sponsored by OverDrive and the ALA’s Office of Information Technology Policy, was undertaken in June and July 2012 via the thousands of OverDrive-powered public library ebook websites in the US.
The survey found that library patrons are also active book purchasers, and the majority would consider purchasing a book they discovered through a library.
View the full survey data (in PDF).