Amazon e-books in US libraries

GoodEreader has reported that a technical bug which prevented Amazon Kindle ebooks being made available on OverDrive has been resolved. Overdrive is currently the only ebook provider which has an agreement with Amazon to provide ebooks in Kindle format.

In December a glitch hit the Overdrive system that prevented the delivery of ebooks in Kindle format. Small press and self-published titles were available, but hundreds of bestsellers from major publishers were not. GoodEreader liased with libraries and patrons and contacted OverDrive to alert them of the problem; who have since resolved the issue attributing it to a technical bug. However there has been some speculation that there may have been a contract dispute between the two corporations, while the terms of the agreement were being renegotiated.

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Caution on e-books

An excellent article at Inside Higher Ed suggests librarians need to exercise some caution when moving from print preferred to digital collections. Librarian Daniel Goldstein touches on many issues previously raised by this blog and the need for “e-book ownership to be more closely equivalent to ownership of a physical book than is currently the case”.

He concludes that “we need to renegotiate the way libraries operate in the e-book marketplace so that they can fulfill their unique and irreplaceable functions while also ensuring that publishers and authors receive their due. It will be expensive, if we can ever get there. Books will cost more and libraries will have to develop the infrastructure needed to host, preserve and deliver the books they acquire”.

Ebooks or Paper Books: Your Best Argument

A light hearted article from the Lifehacker website ‘Ebooks or Paper Books: Your Best Arguments’ asked readers:

With the advance of phones, tablets, and ereaders, ebooks have become a popular reading standard. Still, there’s something about the feel of an old-fashioned paper book. We ask you which one is better and why

Contributors raised some interesting arguments about accessiblity, portability and content; suggesting that both ebooks and print books will continue to have a place in many readers collections.

Macmillian makes full ebook list available to libraries

Macmillian has made its full list of ebook titles available to public libraries for loan. The decision follows a pilot program which was introduced in March 2013, and currently includes all Macmillian books published twelve or more months ago.

Macmillian frontlist titles will be offered to libraries under the 2 year/52 lend model currently in place for backlist. Titles are available through multiple distributors and frontlist titles will be available from early August.

A full press release is available here, thanks to Digital Book World.

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.

‘The Library ebook Situation is Appalling’

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.