Charleston 2014 – How Does Ebook Adoption Vary By Discipline? What Humanists, Social Scientists and Scientists Say They Want (A LibValue Study)

ebook
“ebook” by Daniel Sancho

Speakers: Tina Chrzastowski, Santa Clara University; Lynn Wiley, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Ebook use in their survey follows the definition of COUNTER BR2. They cannot get all ebook publishers to provide that data, and not all of the ones that provide the data uses COUNTER.

They saw a spike in use in FY14. Two things happened: ebooks get used more over time, and they’ve got 8 years of data now. And, they implemented Primo. Discovery has a huge impact on ebook use.

UIUC science faculty love ebooks. They didn’t do a DDA program for them because they already buy just about everything.

It was easier to buy non-science ebooks in packages, though this caused complications with trying to figure out the funding from many different pots. They would prefer to buy new ebook content title-by-title.

They used eBrary with a mix of STL and DDA. After the third STL at 10-15% of list price, they purchased the ebook. This meant they didn’t buy everything that was used, but they ended up spending much less over-all as a result.

They loaded the records, including those they already owned in print. They were alerted of any STL use. Purchased titles were also checked to see if there was other availability such as the print copy. They do book delivery for faculty, so they were interested in which version would be used when both are fairly easy and fast.

There was a lot of good use across the disciplines, but relatively small numbers of titles were used enough to trigger the purchase (more than 3 STLs). These were all multi-user titles, so for each STL triggered, many people could use it during that 24 hour period. On average, there were around 4-5 user sessions per title for both the Humanities and Social Science pilots.

For the Social Sciences, they found that 67% of the STLs were owned in print, with 73% of them available to be requested if the user wanted that format. For the Humanities, 80% were owned in print and 71% of those titles were available.

Based on the metrics from eBrary, they could make some conclusions about what the users were doing in that content. “Quick dips” were less than 9 pages looked at, printed, copied, and no downloads. “Low” was 10-25 pages viewed, printed, etc. and no downloads. “Moderate” 26-45 pages used with a chaper download. “High” up to 299 pages and chapter downloads. “Deep” significant views or whole-book download. They might want to combine deep and high.

In the social sciences, 80% of the use came from quick and low, with no real deep reading. In the humanities, about 46% of the use came from quick and low, with the remaining coming from moderate and high use, and two books fell into the deep category.

They followed up the DDA program with surveys of the faculty and graduate students for the books triggered in the program. They used SurveyMonkey and gift cards for incentives.

They had questions about the perceptions of ebooks, and used skip logic to direct them to specific books in their discipline to use and then respond to questions about that book. It took about 20 minutes to complete. Around 15% of the Humanities responded and 25% of the Social Sciences responded.

They included a question about ejournals to put them in the frame of mind of other electronic things they use. Given the options for book formats, though, they found that most of the respondents would prefer to use mostly print with sometimes ebook.

Every discipline expects that they would be able to download most or all of an ebook, and that the ebook will always be accessible and available (translating to unlimited simultaneous users, no DRM, etc.).

The humanities haven’t quite reached the tipping point of the shift towards ebook use, but the social sciences think that in 5 years, most of their monographic use will be electronic.

Availability and accessibility is the tipping point for chosing a preferred format. If the print book is unavailable, then they are most likely to use the ebook than ask the library to buy another copy or borrow another copy.

In the end, though, it’s still just a “big ol’ hassle” to work with ebooks compared to how we’re used to using books. For many, the note-taking ability or the technology to better use the ebooks were a hinderance.

What do all disciplines want? More ebooks, more current ebook titles, fewer restrictions on copying and printing.

Image reproduction and copyright are big issues — ebooks need all the content that is in the print book. People want consistency between platforms.

We’re still in the early evolution of ebooks. Many changes are yet to come, including copyright changes, tablet and reader evolution, platform consolidation, and things we have not yet thought of.

Readers and scholars are ready for the ebook revolution. How will the library respond?

ER&L 2014 — More Licenses, More Problems: How To Talk To Your Users About Why Ebooks Are Terrible

“DRM PNG 900 2” by listentomyvoice

Speakers: Meghan Ecclestone (York University) & Jacqueline Whyte Appleby (OCUL)

Ebooks aren’t terrible. Instead, we’d like to think of them as teenagers. They’re always changing, often hard to find, and difficult to interact with. Lots of terrible teenagers turn into excellent human beings. There is hope for ebooks.

Scholar’s Portal is a repository for purchased ebooks. Used to be mostly DRM-free, but in 2013, they purchased books from two sources that came with DRM and other restrictions. One of those sources were from Canadian UPs, and they really needed to be viable for course adoption (read: sell many copies to students instead of one to the library). The organization wanted everything, so they agreed to the terms.

In adding this content, with very different usability, they had to determine how they were going to manage it: loan periods, Adobe Digital Editions, and really, how much did they want to have to explain to the users?

One of the challenges is not having control over the ADE layout and wording for alerts and error messages. You can’t use a public computer easily, since your user ID can be logged in on six devices at most.

Faculty can’t use the books in their class. Communicating this to them is… difficult.

Ecclestone did a small usability test. Tried to test both a user’s ability to access a title and their perception of borrowable ebooks. The failure rate was 100%.

Lessons learned: Adobe = PDFs (they don’t get that ADE is not the same); .exe files are new to students, or potentially viruses; returning ebooks manually is never going to happen; and terms like “borrow” and “loan” are equated with paying.

The paradox is that it’s really challenging the first time around, but once they have the right software and have gone through the download process, it’s easier and they have a better opinion.

Suggestions for getting ready to deal with DRM ebooks: Train the trainer. Test your interface.

They put error messages in LibAnswers and provide solutions that way in case the user is searching for help with the error.

ER&L 2013: Ebooks — Their Use and Acceptance by Undergraduates and Faculty

“Kali, Avatar of the eBook” by Javier Candeira

Speaker: Deborah Lenares, Wellesley College

Libraries have been relatively quietly collecting ebooks for years, but it wasn’t until the Kindle came out that public interest in ebooks was aroused. Users exposure and expectations for ebooks has been raised, with notable impact on academic libraries. From 2010-2011, the number of ebooks in academic libraries doubled.

Wellesley is platform agnostic — they look for the best deal with the best content. Locally, they have seen an overall increase in unique titles viewed, a dramatic increase in pages viewed, a modest decrease in pages printed, and a dramatic increase in downloads.

In February 2012, they sent a survey to all of their users, with incentives (iPad, gift cards, etc.) and a platform (Zoomerang) provided by Springer. They had a 57% response rate (likely iPad-influenced), and 71% have used ebooks (51% used ebooks from the Wellesley College Library). If the survey respondent had not used ebooks, they were skipped to the end of the survey, because they were only interested in data from those who have used ebooks.

A high percent of the non-library ebooks were from free sources like Google Books, Project Gutenberg, Internet Archive, etc. Most of the respondents ranked search within the text and offline reading or download to device among the most important functionality aspects, even higher than printing.

Most of the faculty respondents found ebooks to be an acceptable option, but prefer to use print. Fewer students found ebooks an acceptable option, and preferred print more than faculty. There is a reason that will be aparent later in the talk.

The sciences preferred ebooks more than other areas, and found them generally more acceptable than other areas, but the difference is slight. Nearly all faculty who used ebooks would continue to, ranging from preferring them to reluctant acceptance.

Whether they love or hate ebooks, most users skimmed/search and read a small number of consecutive pages or a full chapter. However, ebooks haters almost never read an entire book, and most of the others infrequently did so. Nearly everyone read ebooks on a computer/laptop. Ebook lovers used devices, and ebook haters were more likely to have printed it out. Most would prefer to not use their computer/laptop, and the ebook lovers would rather use their devices.

Faculty are more likely to own or plan to purchase a device than students, which may be why faculty find ebooks more acceptable than students. Maybe providing devices to them would be helpful?

For further research:

  • How does the robustness of ebook collections effect use and attitudes?
  • Is there a correlation between tablet/device use and attitudes?
  • Are attitudes toward shared ebooks (library) different from attitudes toward personal ebooks?

The full text of the white paper is available from Springer.

ER&L 2013: E or P — A Comparative Analysis of Electronic and Print Book Usage

“Book & Phone Book” by Lynn Gardner

Speakers: Michael Levine-Clark & Christopher C. Brown, University of Denver

If someone checks out a physical book, do you know if they really read it? If someone accesses an ebook, do you know if they really read it? If a faculty member has a print book checked out for a year, is it more valuable to them than an ebook they access several times?

Sometimes, the title format in the catalog record can influence what is found and used. Vendor records can sometimes have series names in the beginning of the title, which the cataloger would not do with print.

ISBNs don’t match/merge easily. His solution was to remove the check digit and the prefix, and match on the “ISBN 9”. This works, mostly, but another solution was needed. Ended up having to do a lot of matching to pull together useful comparison of circulation and download data to compare e versus p use.

They found that when both formats were available, a little over half of the print books were used, and less than half of the ebooks were used. Of the titles used in both formats, there was higher use all around. The lowest level of use came from ebooks where the print was not checked out at all.

Use of electronic books may lead to print, but use of print doesn’t seem to lead to electronic. It may be that if dual format is higher it may be that good books get used no matter what format they are in. It may also be that e-discovery drives p-use.

Future considerations: the role of discovery and the role of ILL in a demand for print when electronic is available.

ebooks, libraries, and the discount rate

Evolution of Readers
Creative Commons License John Blyberg via Compfight

The other day I was listening to a Planet Money podcast episode, and they were talking about a new-to-me financial term: the discount rate. As they described it, this is “the rate you use to size up future costs.”

This morning I read a blog/essay by cartoonist Dave Kellett (who draws the nerdy-fun comic Sheldon) which argued that ebooks in libraries would be the death of the traditional publishing industry. As he put it, “The internet has shown, again and again, that the average consumer always tends toward the cheaper, faster solution. And all things being equal between delivery systems, there’s no debate which one is more advantageous for the individual: The borrowed copy.”

Not long after reading this essay, I attended a training session by one of our ebook vendors, during which at one point they mentioned that the cost for MUPO books (multiple simultaneous user access; essentially a site-license) as being only 150% of list price, which in their words is a good deal. I held my breath for a moment, as I knew the cost of MUPO had been contentious in internal discussions in the recent past. However, the moment passed without comment.

All of these bits and pieces began churning in my mind until finally I reached a rather shocking to me conclusion: 150% of list price for unlimited simultaneous user access is an amazing deal, particularly now that these ebooks are becoming more functional for the users.

Think about it — for the cost of half of a second copy, any number of our users can view, download, print, copy, and even read the same book at the same time. In the print world, at best you might get four people reading the same copy a book at the same time if you could smoosh together close enough and the font size wasn’t too small. Or, you’d buy multiple copies for class reading assignments that would then end up being discarded when the curriculum changed.

How could I go from thinking that ebooks shouldn’t cost more than print to thinking that MUPO pricing is a good deal? Well, my discount rate changed. When I thought about it from the perspective of copies saved rather than prices increased, it made the cost difference seem less heinous.