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.
Helen Leech, librarian and blogger at FutureBook, has published an interesting post- 10 things you may not know about ebooks and UK public libraries. The blog post is well worth a read and highlights some of the limitations surrounding ebook lending in public libraries.
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.
Over 5,000 HarperCollins e-book titles are now available on OverDrive for UK customers, including school, public and university libraries. Borrowing terms are the same as for U.S titles: each copy purchased may be borrowed 26 times before its license expires and a new copy must be purchased. The Overdrive blog post is available here.
The Society of Chief Librarians and the Publisher’s Association have released an invitation to tender titled Testing the impact of e-lending both on-site and remotely upon the Public Library and Publishing sectors.
One of the recommendations of the Sieghart review of library e-lending in the UK was that a series of pilots be constructed to test remote e-lending, based on one user-one copy, and that copy would deteriorate after an agreed number of loans. The pilots are intended to provide publishers, authors, agents and libraries with an evidence base to assess what happens to lending and purchasing behaviour in those areas.
The SCL and PA appointed research and strategy consultancy MTM London to design the pilot projects in August 2013.
The current tender calls for Library Authorities to participate in the pilots. Four authorities will participate, one each that:
- represents a largely rural population and will loan e-books for 7 days
- represents a largely rural population and will loan e-books for 21 days
- represents a largely metropolitan population and will loan e-books for 7 days
- represents a largely metropolitan population and will loan e-books for 21 days
Each participating authority will be required to purchase a pre-agreed set of approximately 1,000 titles, made up of front- and back-list titles from major publishers, prominent UK authors and new titles as they are published.
As well as meeting the standard requirements from publishers and platform providers, the participating authorities will be required to include a ‘click to buy’ button for all titles included in the project.
Participating authorities will be required to report on the changes in physical and e-lending habits of clients during the pilot. The pilots are intended to run for 12 months to December 2014.
One of the recommendations of the UK’s Sieghart review into e-lending in public libraries was:
A number of pilots in 2013 using established literary events should be set up to test business models and user behaviours, and provide a transparent evidence base: all major publishers and aggregators should participate in these pilots
In June 2013, the Society of Chief Librarians and the Publishers Association released a Request for Proposal to appoint a research agency to co-design (with SCL and PA) and evaluate a number of research pilots which will test the impact of e-lending.
The key research questions are:
- What is the reader journey? i.e. how do library users find and access e-books?
- What is the impact on sales?
- What is the overall impact on library services?
- How does an e-lending offer change the customers’ perception of library services?
The deadline for proposals was July 17.
UPDATE: The contract to develop the pilots was awarded to MTM London, a research and strategy consultancy.
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.