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.

VLACRL Spring 2011: Patron-Driven Acquisitions panel

“Selectors are more fussy about the [ebook] platform than the students.” – Nancy Gibbs

Speakers from James Madison University, Duke University, and the College of William & Mary

James Madison University has done two trials of patron-driven acquisitions. The first one was mainly for print books that had been requested through interlibrary loan. If the book is a university press or new (past two years) imprint, they rush order it through an arrangement with the campus bookstore. The book arrives and is cataloged (actually, the book gets cataloged when it’s ordered, saving additional processing time) in about the same time it would take if it was coming through the ILL system, and most of these books ended up circulating frequently with renewals.

Their second trial was for ebooks through their book jobber, Coutts, and their MyiLibrary platform. They used the same parameters as their approval plan and set it up like most PDA ebook programs: drop the records in the catalog and after X number of “substantial uses” (i.e. not the table of contents, cover, etc.) the book is purchased using a deposit account fund. They excluded some publishers from the PDA process because they prefer to purchase the books on the publisher’s platform or have other arrangements (i.e. Gale or Wiley). If your library needs certain fields in the MARC record added, removed, or modified, they recommend that you have the vendor do that for you rather than touching every record locally, particularly given the volume of records involved.

The ebook PDA trial was initiated last calendar year, and they found that 75% of the ebooks purchased were used 5-19 times with an average of 14.77 per title. Surprisingly enough, they did not spend out their modest deposit account and were able to roll it over to this year. Already for 2011, they are seeing a 30% increase in purchases.

Duke University was one of the ARL libraries in the eBrary PDA pilot program. Out of the 90,000 titles offered, they culled the list down to 21,000 books published after 2006 with a $275 price per title limit. Even with that, they blew through the deposit account quickly. But, they found that the titles purchased were within the scope of what they would have collected anyway, so they added more funds to the deposit account. In the end, they purchased about 348 ebooks for $49,000 – mainly English-language titles from publishers like Wiley, Cambridge, and Oxford, and in areas like business and economics.

Other aspects of the Duke trial: They did not match up the 21,000 books with their approval plan, but used other criteria to select them. They negotiated 10 “clicks” to initiate a purchase (whatever the clicks mean). They were send approval slips for many of the titles that were purchased, but for whatever reason the selector did not choose them.

About 183 (over 50%) of the ebooks purchased were already owned in print by the library. One of their regrets is not capturing data about the time of day or day of week that the ebooks were accessed. It’s possible that the duplicates were accessed because the user was unable to access the print book for whatever reason (location, time of day, etc.). Also, two of the books purchased were already owned in electronic format in collections, but had not been cataloged individually.

Duke has also done a PDA program with interlibrary loan. The parameters are similar to JMU’s, and they are pushing OCLC to include preferred format in the ILLiad forms, as they would like to purchase ebooks if the user prefers that format.

They are also looking to do some topic-specific PDAs for new programs.

The College of William & Mary is a YBP customer for their print books, but they decided to go with Coutts’ MyiLibrary for their ebook PDA trial. This was initially the source of a great deal of frustration with de-duping records and preventing duplicate purchases. After several months and a duplication rate as much as 23%, they eventually determined that it was a time gap between when Coutts identified new titles for the PDA and when W&M sent them updates with what they had purchased in print or electronic from other sources.

In the end, they spent the $30,000 private Dean’s fund on 415 titles fairly evenly across the disciplines. About 45 titles had greater than 100 uses, and one title was used 1647 times (they think that was for a class). Despite that, they have not had to purchase a multi-user license for any title (neither has JMU), so either MyiLibrary is letting in multiple simultaneous users and not charging them, or it has not been an issue for a single user to access the titles at a time.

One thing to consider if you are looking to do patron-driven acquisitions with ebooks is the pricing. Ebooks are priced at the same rate as hardcover books, and multiple user licenses are usually 50% more. Plan to get less for the same money if you have been purchasing paperbacks.

There are pros and cons to publicizing the PDA trial during the process. In most cases, you want it to be seamless for the user, so there really isn’t much reason to tell them that they are initiating library purchases when they access the ebooks or request an interlibrary loan book. However, afterwards, it may be a good marketing tool to show how the library is working to remain relevant and spend funds on the specific needs of students/faculty.

COUNTER book reports are helpful for collection assessment, but they don’t quite match up with print use browse/circulation counts, so be careful when comparing them. Book Report 2 gives the number of successful section requests for each book, which can give you an idea of how much of the book was used, with a section being a chapter or other subdivision of a reference work.

Final thoughts: as we shift towards purchasing ebooks over print, we should be looking at revising and refining our workflow processes from selection to acquisition to assessment.

“Selectors are more fussy about the [ebook] platform than the students.” – Nancy Gibbs

VLACRL Spring 2011: Building an eReaders Collection at Duke University Libraries

They started lending ereaders because they wanted to provide a way for users to interact with new and emerging technologies.

Speaker: Nancy Gibbs

They started lending ereaders because they wanted to provide a way for users to interact with new and emerging technologies. The collection focus is on high circulation popular reading titles, and they do add patron requests. Recently, they added all of the Duke University Press titles, per the request of the university press. (Incidentally, not all of the Duke UP titles are available in Kindle format because Amazon won’t allow them to sell a book in Kindle format until it has sold 50 print copies.)

They marketed their ereader program through word of mouth, the library website, the student paper, and the communications office. The communications press release was picked up by the local newspaper. They also created a YouTube video explaining how to reserve/check-out the ereaders, and gave presentations to the teaching & learning technologists and faculty.

For the sake of consistency and availability of titles, they purchase one copy of a title for every pod of six Kindle ereaders. Amazon allows you to load and view a Kindle book on up to six devices, which is how they arrived at that number. For the Nooks, they can have a book loaded on apparently an unlimited number of devices, so they purchase only one copy of a title from Barnes & Noble. They try to have the same titles on both the Kindles and the Nooks, but not every title available for purchase on the Kindle is also available on the Nook. Each of the books purchased is cataloged individually, with the location as the device it is on, and they will appear to be checked out when the device is checked out.

When they first purchased the devices and were figuring out the local workflow of purchasing and loading the content, the tech services department (acquisitions, cataloging, etc.) were given the devices to experiment with them. In part, this was to sort out any kinks in workflow that they may discover, but also it was because these folks don’t often get the chance to play with new technology in the library as their public service counterparts do. Gibbs recommends that libraries purchase insurance options for the devices, because things can happen.

One of the frustrations with commercial ereader options like the Kindle and Nook is that they are geared towards individual users and not library use. So, unlike other ebook providers and platforms, they do not give the library any usage data regarding the books used, which can make collection development in these areas somewhat challenging. However, given that their scope is popular reading material and that they take patron requests, this is not as much of an issue as it could be.

Side note: Gibbs pointed out that ebook readers are still not yet greener than print books, mostly because of the toxicity of the materials and the amount of resources that go into producing them. EcoLibris has a great resource page with more information about this.

VLACRL Spring 2011: Clay Shirky, Fantasy Football, and the Future of Library Collections

As we shift to a demand-driven collection development approach, we will better be able to provide content at the point of need.

Speaker: Greg Raschke

Raschke started off with several assumptions about the future of library collections. These should not be a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention: The economics of our collections is not sustainable – the cost and spend has gone up over the years, but there is a ceiling to funding, so we need to lower the costs of the entire system. We’re at a tipping point where just in case no longer delivers at the point of need. We must change the way we collect, and it will be hard, but not impossible.

The old system of supply-side collection development assumes that we’re working with limited resources (i.e. print materials), so we have to buy everything just in case someone needs it 10 years down the road when the book/journal/whatever is out of print. As a result, we judge the quality of a collection by its size, rather than by its relevance to the users. All of this contributes to an inelastic demand for journals and speculative buying.

The new system of demand-driven collections views them as drivers of research and teaching. It’s not really a new concept so much as a new workflow. There’s less tolerance in investing in a low-use collection, so there is an increase in the importance of use data and modifying what we collect based on that use data. The risks of not evolving and failing to innovate can be seen in the fate of the newspapers, many of whom held onto the old systems for too long and are dying or becoming irrelevant as a result.

Demand-driven collection development can create a tension between the philosophy of librarians as custodians of scholarship and librarians as enablers of a digital environment for scholars. Some think that this type of collection development may result in lower unit costs, but the reality is that unless the traditions of tenure and promotion change, the costs of publishing scholarly works will not go down. One of the challenging/difficult aspects of demand-driven collection development is that we won’t be getting new funds to do it – we must free funds from other areas in order to invest in these new methods (i.e. local digital production and patron-driven acquisitions).

The rewards of adapting are well worth it. The more our constituencies use the library and its resources, the more vital we become. Look at your data, and then bet on the numbers. Put resources into enabling a digital environment for your scholars.

Demand-driven collection development is not just patron-driven acquisitions! It’s about becoming an advanced analyst and increasing the precision in collection development. For NCSU‘s journal review, they look at downloads, impact factors, publications by NCSU authors, publications that cite NCSU authors, and gather feedback from the community. These bibliometrics are processed through a variety of formulas to standardize them for comparison and to identify outliers.

For print resources, they pulled circulation and bibliographic information out of their ILS and dropped it into SAS to assess the use of these materials over time. It was eye-opening to see what subject areas saw circulation greater than one over 10 years from the year they were added to the collection and those that saw no circulations. As a result, they were able to identify funds that could go towards supporting other areas of the collection, and they modified the scopes of their approval profiles. [A stacked graph showing the use of their collection, such as print circulation, ejournals/books downloads, reserves, and ILL has been one of their most popular promotional tools.]

As we shift to a demand-driven collection development approach, we will better be able to provide content at the point of need. This includes incorporating more than just our local collections (i.e. adding HathiTrust and other free resources to our catalog). Look to fund patron-driven acquisitions that occur both in the ebook purchasing models and through ILL requests. Integrate electronic profiling with your approval plans so that you are not just looking at purchasing print. Consider ebook packages to lower the unit costs, and use short-term loans for ebooks as an alternative to ILL. Get content to users in the mode they want to consume it. Do less speculative buying, and move money into new areas. It is imperative that libraries/librarians collaborate with each other in digital curation, digital collections, and collective bargaining for purchases.

There are challenges, of course. You will encounter the CAVE people. Data-driven and user-driven approaches can punish niche areas, disciplinary variation, and resources without data. The applications and devices we use to interact with digital content are highly personalized, which is a challenge for standardizing access.

I asked Raschke to explain how he evaluates resources that don’t have use data, and he says he’s more likely to stop buying them. For some resources, he can look at proxy logs and whether they are being cited by authors at his institution, but otherwise there isn’t enough data beyond user feedback.

library lending with the Kindle

kindle with newspaper
Amazon Kindle

I’m sure by now that you’ve heard the Amazon announcement that they will be offering a service to allow libraries to lend books to Kindle users. Well, the thing that got this academic librarian excited is this line from the press release: “If a Kindle book is checked out again or that book is purchased from Amazon, all of a customer’s annotations and bookmarks will be preserved.”

One of the common complaints we received in our pilot programs using Kindles in the classroom was that because the students had to return the devices, they couldn’t keep the notes they had made in the texts. Of course, even with this model they won’t be able to access their notes without checking out the book again, but at least it’ll be an option for them.

Of course, there is a down side to this announcement — the lending will be facilitated by OverDrive.  Unless you’ve been a library news hermit for the past few years, you’ve heard the complaints (and very few praises) about the OverDrive platform, and the struggles of librarians and users in getting the materials checked out and downloaded to devices. I hope that because Amazon will be relying on their fantastic Whispersync technology to retain notes and bookmarks,it will just as easy to check out and download the Kindle books through OverDrive.

recommended reading: Tinfoil + Raccoon is back!

Rochelle Hartman, one of my favorite people in libraryland, has written a new blog post on Tinfoil + Raccoon, the blog she declared dead some time ago. If you’re thinking about buying an ereader and are drawn to the idea of being able to check out ebooks from your local public library, you should read this. If you’re a librarian who is getting lots of questions from patrons about checking out ebooks, you also should read this for some excellent tips and talking points.

Personally, although I have a Sony Reader and theoretically could be borrowing books from the library, the only library system in my area that has the appropriate Overdrive license is Chesterfield County, and I haven’t made it down there yet to get a library card. Having occasionally browsed their collection online, I’m not particularly motivated to do it anytime soon, either.