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

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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 2012: Consortia On Trial — In Defense of the Shared Ebook

Hi, how are you?
an Austin classic

Speaker: Nancy Gibbs, Duke & TRLN

The consortia TRLN began in the 1930’s as a shared collection development strategy for print materials. They share a catalog, print repository, approval vendor database, and they collaborate on large and individual purchases. This was really easy in the print world. As of 2006, only 8% of print books were duplicated across all three schools (Duke, NCSU, & UNC-CH).

Then ebooks arrived. And duplication began to grow exponentially. Many of the collections can’t be lent to the consortia libraries, and as a result, everyone is having to buy copies rather than relying on the shared collections of the past.

Speaker: Michael Zeoli, YBP

YBP has seen a small increase in ebooks purchased by academic libraries, and a much larger decrease in the purchase of print books, despite acquiring Blackwell last year. This is true of the TRLN consoritum as well.

About 20% of the top 24 publishers are not working with PDA or consortia, and about half that do are not doing both. Zeoli tries to meet with publishers and show them the data that it’s in their best interest to make ebooks available at the same time as print, and that they need to also be include in PDA and consortia arrangements.

Consortias want PDA, but not all the content is available. Ebook aggregators have some solutions, but missing the workflow components. Publisher role is focused on content, not workflow. PDA alone for consortia is a disincentive for publishers, it ignores practical integration of appropriate strategies and tools, and it’s a headache for technical staff.

A hybrid model might look like Oxford University Press. There are digital collections, but not everything is available that way, so you need options for single-title purchases through several models. This requires the consortium, the book seller, and the publisher to work together.

Speaker: Rebecca Seger, OUP

The publishers see many challenges, not the least of which is the continued reliance on print books in the humanities and social sciences, although there is a demand for both formats. Platforms are not set up to enable sharing of ebooks, and would require a significant investment in time and resources to implement.

They have done a pilot program with MARLI to provide access to both the OUP platform and the books they do not host but make available through eBrary. [Sorry — not sure how this turned out — got distracted by a work email query. They’ll be presenting results at Charleston.]

Questions:
How do MARLI institutions represent access for the one copy housed at NYU? Can download through Oxford site. YBP can provide them. The challenge is for the books that appear on eBrary a month later, so they are using a match number to connect the new URL with the old record.

And more questions. I keep zoning out during this part of the presentations. Sorry.

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.

IL2009: Mobile Content Delivery in the Enterprise

Speakers: Britt Mueller

Often, there are more librarians who’s organizations loan ebook readers to their users than who own or use ebook readers themselves. Devices are driving all of the changes in the content, and we need to pay attention to that.

General Mills launched their ebook reader lending program in the fall of 2008 with six Kindles pre-loaded with content and attached to a purchasing card registered with each device. They’ve had over 120 loans over the past year with a wait list (two week loan periods).

Qualcomm launched a similar program at around the same time, but they went with four types of ereaders: Kindle, Sony 505, Bookeen Cybook, and Irex Iliad). They’ve had over 500 loans over the past year with a wait list, and they’ve updated the devices with the newer models as they were released.

One of the down sides to the devices is that there is no enterprise model. Users have to go through the vendor to get content, rather than getting the content directly from the library. Users liked the devices but wanted them to be as customized to their individual preferences and yet still shareable, much like borrowing other devices like laptops and netbooks from the library.

There is a uniform concern among publishers and vendors for how to track/control usage in order to pay royalties, which makes untethering the content problematic. There is a lack of standardization in format, which makes converting content to display on a wide range of devices problematic as well. And finally, the biggest stumbling block for libraries is a lack of an enterprise model for acquiring and sharing content on these devices.

Implications for the future: integration into the ILS, staff time to manage the program, cost, and eventually, moving away from lending devices and moving towards lending the content.