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”.

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.

BiblioBoard & bestselling authors partner on library e-books

BiblioBoard has announced a new program to offer bestselling independent and self-published e-books for library lending on a multi-user model. Dubbed the “Indie Rock Stars” module, the program will launch with the participation of some 50 authors, and will include at least 18 New York Times bestselling books and more than 30 award-winning novels.

Biblioboard is one of the few companies that currently allows subscribing libraries to offer patrons unlimited, multi-user access. Most e-book providers currently use the “one copy, one user” digital lending model for libraries.

The full article is available at Publishers Weekly. Thanks to ALIA, who included this in their weekly newsletter.

How Libraries Preserve E-books

Michael Kelley has published an article on Publishers Weekly ‘How Libraries Preserve E-books’, which picks up on many ideas previously discussed by this blog. Robert Wolven, associate university librarian for bibliographic services and collection development at Columbia University is quoted:

‘preservation is the global warming issue for e-books… everyone knows that if we don’t do something now we’ll be in trouble later’.

The article discusses some of the issues faced by libraries with negotiating perpetual accessed to licensed content. The article also considers how digital rights management technology and proprietary e-book formats can make preservation difficult.

Legal deposit for e-books and electronic serials would be a step forward in facilitating ebooks. Currently the US mandates that only electronic only serial publications be deposited at the Library of Congress, with no similar requirement for ebooks. This is problematic with the increasing amount of born digital ebook only titles and with the proliferation of self published e-books entering the market.

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.

Simon & Schuster eBooks available on US Overdrive

The Simon & Schuster ebook catalogue will soon be available to U.S public libraries using Overdrive. Libraries that wish to offer Simon & Schuster ebook titles must have a ‘buy it now’ option on the page alongside borrow or place a hold.

According to the Overdrive blog post:

“With Library BIN, your library will earn a content credit equal to 50 percent of the retail markup for titles purchased from the OverDrive-hosted referral page. The content credit will be applied to your OverDrive Marketplace account for future orders”.

Simon & Schuster publish ebooks by many popular authors. This agreement will offer U.S library patrons a greater choice of titles for ebook loan.

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.

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’.