ER&L 2014 — Diving Into Ebook Usage: Navigating the Swell of Information

“Two boys jumping & diving” by Xosé Castro Roig

Speakers: Michael Levine-Clark (University of Denver) & Kari Paulson (ProQuest eBrary/EBL)

ProQuest is looking at usage data across the eBrary and EBL platforms as they are working to merge them together. To help interpret the data, they asked Levine-Clark to look at it as well. This is more of a proof-of-concept than a final conclusion.

They looked at 750,000 ebooks initially, narrowing it down for some aspects. He asked several questions, from the importance of quality to disciplinary preferences to best practices for measuring use, and various tangential questions related to these.

They looked at eBrary data from 2010-2013Q3 and EBL data from 2011-2013Q3. They used only the titles with an LC call number, and separate analysis of those titles that come from university presses specifically.

Usage was defined in three ways: sessions, views (count of page views), and downloads (entire book). Due to the variations in the data sets (number of years, number of customers, platforms), they could not easily compare the usage information between eBrary and EBL.

Do higher quality ebooks get used more? He used university press books as a measure of quality, though he recognizes this is not the best measure. For titles with at least one session, he found that the rate of use was fairly comparable, but slightly higher for university press books. The session counts and page views in eBrary was significantly higher for UP books, but not as much with EBL. In fact, consistently use was higher for UP books across the categories, but this may be because there are more UP books selected by libraries, thus increasing their availability.

What does usage look like across broad disciplines? Humanities, Social Sciences, and STEM were broken out and grouped by their call number ranges. He excluded A & Z (general) as well as G (too interdisciplinary) out of the equation. The social sciences were the highest in sessions and views on eBrary, but humanities win the downloads. For EBL, the social sciences win all categories. When he looked at actions per session, STEM had higher views, but all downloaded at about the same rate on both platforms.

How do you measure predicted use? He used the percentage of books in an LC class relative to the total books available. If the percentage of a use metric is lower then it is not meeting expected use, and vice versa. H, L, G, N, and D were all better than expected. Q, F, P, K and U were worse than expected.

How about breadth versus depth? This gets complicated. Better to find the slides and look at the graphs. The results map well to the predicted use outcomes.

Can we determine the level of immersion in a book? If more pages are viewed per session in a subject area, does that mean the users spend more time reading or just look at more pages? Medicine (R), History of the Americas (F), and Technology (T) appear to be used at a much higher rate within a session than other areas, despite performing poorly in breadth versus depth assessment. In other words, they may not be used much per title, but each session is longer and involves more actions than others.

How do we use these observations to build better collections and better serve our users?

Books with call numbers tend to be use more than those without. Is it because a call number is indicative of better metadata? Is it because publishers of better quality will provide better metadata? It’s hard to tell at this point, but it’s something he wants to look into.

A white paper is coming soon and will include a combined data set. It will also include the EBL data about how long someone was in a book in a session. Going forward, he will also look into LC subclasses.

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.

CIL 2011: EBook Publishing – Practices & Challenges

Speaker: Ken Breen (EBSCO)

In 1997, ebooks were on CD-ROM and came with large paper books to explain how to use them, along with the same concerns about platforms we have today.

Current sales models involve purchase by individual libraries or consortia, patron-driven acquisition models, and subscriptions. Most of this presentation is a sales pitch for EBSCO and nothing you don’t already know.

Speaker: Leslie Lees (ebrary)

Ebrary was founded a year after NetLibrary and was acquired by ProQuest last year. They have similar models, with one slight difference: short term loans, which will be available later this spring.

With no longer a need to acquire books because they may be hard to get later, do we need to be building collections, or can we move to an on-demand model?

He thinks that platforms will move towards focusing more on access needs than on reselling content.

Speaker: Bob Nardini (Coutts)

They are working with a variety of incoming files and outputting them in any format needed by the distributors they work with, both ebook and print on demand.

A recent study found that academic libraries have significant number of overlap with their ebook and print collections.

They are working on approval plans for print and ebooks. The timing of the releases of each format can complicate things, and he thinks their model mediates that better. They are also working on interlibrary loan of ebooks and local POD.

Because they work primarily with academic libraries, they are interested in models for archiving ebooks. They are also looking into download models.

Speaker: Mike (OverDrive)

He sees the company as an advocate for libraries. Promises that there will be more DRM-free books and options for self-published authors. He recommends their resource for sharing best practices among librarians.

Questions:

What is going on with DRM and ebooks? What mechanism does your products use?

Adobe Digital Editions is the main mechanism for OverDrive. Policies are set by the publishers, so all they can do is advocate for libraries. Ebrary and NetLibrary have proprietary software to manage DRM. Publishers are willing to give DRM-free access, but not consistently, and not for their “best” content.

It is hard to get content onto devices. Can you agree on a single standard content format?

No response, except to ask if they can set prices, too.

Adobe became the de facto solutions, but it doesn’t work with all devices. Should we be looking for a better solution?

That’s why some of them are working on their own platforms and formats. ePub has helped the growth of ebook publishing, and may be the direction.

Public libraries need full support for these platforms – can you do that?

They try the best they can. OverDrive offers secondary support. They are working on front-line tech support and hope to offer it soon.

Do publishers work with all platforms or are there exclusive arrangements?

It varies.

Do you offer more than 10 pages at a time for downloads of purchased titles?

Ebrary tries to do it at the chapter level, and the same is probably true of the rest. EBSCO is asking for the right to print up to 60 pages at a time.

When will we be able to loan ebooks?

Coutts is working on ILL.

ER&L 2010: Patron-driven Selection of eBooks – three perspectives on an emerging model of acquisitions

Speaker: Lee Hisle

They have the standard patron-driven acquisitions (PDA) model through Coutts’ MyiLibrary service. What’s slightly different is that they are also working on a pilot program with a three college consortia with a shared collection of PDA titles. After the second use of a book, they are charged 1.2-1.6% of the list price of the book for a 4-SU, perpetual access license.

Issues with ebooks: fair use is replaced by the license terms and software restrictions; ownership has been replaced by licenses, so if Coutts/MyiLibrary were to go away, they would have to renegotiate with the publishers; there is a need for an archiving solution for ebooks much like Portico for ejournals; ILL is not feasible for permissible; potential for exclusive distribution deals; device limitations (computer screens v. ebook readers).

Speaker: Ellen Safley

Her library has been using EBL on Demand. They are only buying 2008-current content within specific subjects/LC classes (history and technology). They purchase on the second view. Because they only purchase a small subset of what they could, the number of records they load fluxuates, but isn’t overwhelming.

After a book has been browsed for more than 10 minutes, the play-per-view purchase is initiated. After eight months, they found that more people used the book at the pay-per-view level than at the purchase level (i.e. more than once).

They’re also a pilot for an Ebrary program. They had to deposit $25,000 for the 6 month pilot, then select from over 100,000 titles. They found that the sciences used the books heavily, but there were also indications that the humanities were popular as well.

The difficulty with this program is an overlap between selector print order requests and PDA purchases. It’s caused a slight modification of their acquisitions flow.

Speaker: Nancy Gibbs

Her library had a pilot with Ebrary. They were cautious about jumping into this, but because it was coming from their approval plan vendor, it was easier to match it up. They culled the title list of 50,000 titles down to 21,408, loaded the records, and enabled them in SFX. But, they did not advertise it at all. They gave no indication of the purchase of a book on the user end.

Within 14 days of starting the project, they had spent all $25,000 of the pilot money. Of the 347 titles purchased, 179 of the purchased titles were also owned in print, but those print only had 420 circulations. The most popularly printed book is also owned in print and has had only two circulations. The purchases leaned more towards STM, political science, and business/economics, with some humanities.

The library tech services were a bit overwhelmed by the number of records in the load. The MARC records lacked OCLC numbers, which they would need in the future. They did not remove the records after the trial ended because of other more pressing needs, but that caused frustration with the users and they do not recommend it.

They were surprised by how quickly they went through the money. If they had advertised, she thinks they may have spent the money even faster. The biggest challenge they had was culling through the list, so in the future running the list through the approval plan might save some time. They need better match routines for the title loads, because they ended up buying five books they already have in electronic format from other vendors.

Ebrary needs to refine circulation models to narrow down subject areas. YBP needs to refine some BISAC subjects, as well. Publishers need to communicate better about when books will be made available in electronic format as well as print. The library needs to revise their funding models to handle this sort of purchasing process.

They added the records to their holdings on OCLC so that they would appear in Google Scholar search results. So, even though they couldn’t loan the books through ILL, there is value in adding the holdings.

They attempted to make sure that the books in the list were not textbooks, but there could have been some, and professors might have used some of the books as supplementary course readings.

One area of concern is the potential of compromised accounts that may result in ebook pirates blowing through funds very quickly. One of the vendors in the room assured us they have safety valves for that in order to protect the publisher content. This has happened, and the vendor reset the download number to remove the fraudulent downloads from the library’s account.