IL 2012: We’re in the eBook Business: Douglas County Libraries’ Adventures with eContent and ePublishing

Reading my Kindle in the hammock
“Reading my Kindle in the hammock” by Joanna Penn

Speaker: Hutch Tibbetts

Background: Ebooks and ebook readers (and tablets) are increasing in use in the US. E-only publishers are giving authors a much larger percent of sales than the traditional print publishers, and the percentage is (of course) even higher for self-published authors. How can libraries manage these types of ebooks? DCL is seeing a decline in circulation in all categories except for digital downloads.

Overdrive is a solutions, but it has problems. We lose ownership of the books. We lose discounts on list prices. We lose the integration of systems for discovering and accessing books. We lose used books and ILL rights.

We have no control over what we don’t own. While libraries directly promote the publisher’s bottom line, we are still treated by publishers as a loss in sales, with ebooks priced accordingly.

The DCL model uses their own Adobe Content Server that assigns DRM so that only one user can check out an ebook at a time. They have an HTML5-based online ebook reader that works across most devices, as well as an eReader app for iOS and Android. They use VuFind as a discovery layer for their collection, including their home-grown ebook platform.

They’ve added links to local and online booksellers for patrons who don’t want to wait on a book’s availability. They’re also experimenting with demand-driven acquisition. They also use the Strands Recommender, with those recommendations appearing in various places in the user’s experience (checkout, my account, etc.).

Much like the display of new or featured books, they wanted to have something like that for their ebooks. They created similar power wall kiosks near the physical items using touch screen interfaces.

They’ve learned that talking directly to publishers produces better results, and they can incorporate publisher concerns in their system design. Independent publishers are very interested in participating. They’ve streamlined their eContent acquisition and management processes. They’re still missing an acquisitions system, a Kindle solution, and the big 6 publishers, but they have hope that these problems will solve themselves by the success of their ebook program.