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.

my love/hate relationship with reading books

ALA Read mini-poster
“ALA Read mini-poster” by me

This year I participated in the “set your own challenge” book reading thinger on Goodreads. Initially, I set mine at 25, as a little stretch goal from my average of 19 books per year over the past four years. But, I was doing so well in the early part of the year that I increased it to 30. The final total was 27, but I’m part-way through several books that I just didn’t have time to finish as the clocked ticked down to the end of the year.

What worked well for me this time: audiobooks. I read more of them than paper books this year, and it forced me to expand to a variety of topics and styles I would not have patience for in print.

What failed me this time: getting hung up on a book I felt obligated to finish, but did not excite me to continue on it, so I kept avoiding it. To be fair, part of what turned me off was on disc two, I accidentally set my car’s CD player to shuffle. This is great for adding some variety to music listening, but it made for confusing and abrupt transitions from one topic/focus to another.

I read a lot of non-fiction, because that works better in audio format for me, and I read more audio than printed (either in paper or electronic) books. For 2013, I’d like to read more fiction, which means reading more in print. Which means making time for my “must read the whole book cover to cover” method of reading fiction.

audiobook: 20
print book: 7
ebook: 0

fiction: 5
non-fiction: 22

books read in 2012



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Charleston 2012: Ebooks – One Size Does Not Fit All

One size fits all. Welcome to the 80's by Stephan van Es
“One size fits all. Welcome to the 80’s” by Stephan van Es

Speaker: Anne McKee, GWLA

SERU was heavily involved in putting this session together. SERU hopes to put away with the madness of licensing and come up with mutually agreeable terms.

Most libraries purchase ebooks in order to make them available 24/7 to their users. While they haven’t grown to proportion sizes larger than print in library collections, they are heading there.

Researchers like ebooks because they don’t have to return them, and are more accessible than print books in the developing world. Students appreciate the ease of accessibility, particularly distance learnings, but given the choice they would take print over e every time. Libraries like them because there are easier/better ways of assessing usage and value to their users, but there are licensing and DRM headaches.

Speaker: Adam Chesler, Business Expert Press / Momentum Press

He has worked for large publishers, but now works for a small, new publisher.

What’s hard for a new publisher to break into the library market? Creating awareness, providing value — acquisition librarians are already overwhelmed with sales pitches via email. Authors may be wary of working with an unknown outlet when there are so many other options. They have to figure out ways to do this creatively.

Gaining budget shares in library materials budgets is challenging, where established publishers have long-standing space. Setting up trials for libraries and following up on them is challenging when one person is responsible for every business/science library in North America. “If you set up a trial, it would be much better to tell me to go to hell than ignore me.”

What’s easy? Nothing.

Well, being an e-only publisher means they don’t have responsibility for a print legacy that needs to be converted to online. That’s easy. They also have more freedom to experiment, particularly with pricing models. And SERU. That’s easy. They also don’t have their own platform, so they make the books available on established providers libraries are already comfortable using.

Speaker: Kimberly Steinle, Duke University Press

When they created the ebook side of the press, they modeled it after the ejournal side, with similar tiered pricing. They also work with the other ebook platforms and their pricing and licensing models.

While the ejournal collection sales are significant, they were surprised to find that ebook collections were not as popular as individual title sales.

They thought selling ebooks would be easy, since they already had existing relationships. MARC records, pricing, technology — not as easy as they thought. Squeezing the ebook model into the ejournal model doesn’t quite fit.

It’s easy to set up multiple sales models, but harder to get information about who the customers are and using that to make business decisions.

They’re a little worried that if they give up DRM it will impact print sales, but it’s obviously pretty unpopular and they do want the books to be used. They’re thinking about future formats — EPUB3, HTML5 — they need to keep up. They’re thinking about new ways to sell the content, and increasing the number of platforms and partners they work with.

Speaker: Bob Boissey, Springer

Serials come first at Springer (because they’re 80% of your materials budget). But, he’ll talk about ebooks today.

The STM publisher’s preference is to sell ebooks in packages directly to libraries, but there are other models based on library or patron selection that have some appeal. Eventually, market forces will probably mean they’ll have to do something with PDA.

In the post-PDA world, maybe we stop selecting and make sure that our systems are solid for allowing our users to find the best, most relevant content in an un-scoped collection. Might also mean giving up some of our concepts about what librarianship is.

The easy stuff: Libraries are the traditional purchasers of scholarly books, and publishers know how many print books we’ve purchased from them in the past. Many eresource issues were resolved with ejournals. SERU. The volume discount approach to selling ebook packages can work if the per unit cost is low, the percentage of portfolio used is high, and the spend is commensurate with print spend, but with more titles. Include textbooks and reference books in the package. Remove DRM, pair with liberal use and ILL permissions.

The not so easy, but not so hard stuff: Editors and authors have not had an easy time coming to terms with ebooks, much like print on demand. Discovery layer for ebooks is still the catalog, and it’s not down to the full text quite yet. Tablets are great for ebooks, and as they get more popular on campuses, ebooks get used more. Might have to give up the concept of book as a full thing and be okay with chapter-level reading. Most scholarly books outside of the humanities and social sciences are not read as a whole.

Charleston 2012: Curating a New World of Publishing

Looking through spy glass by Arild Nybø
“Looking through spy glass” by Arild Nybø

Hypothesis: Rapid publishing output and a wide disparity of publishing sources and formats has made finding the right content at the right time harder for librarians.

Speaker: Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords

Old model of publishing was based on scarcity, with publishers as mediators for everything. Publishers aren’t in the business of publishing books, they are in the business of selling books, so they really focus more on what books they think readers want to read. Ebook self publishing overcomes many of the limitations of traditional publishing.

Users want flexibility. Authors want readers. Libraries want books accessible to anyone, and they deliver readership.

The tools for self publishing are now free and available to anyone around the world. The printing press is now in the cloud. Smashwords will release about 100,000 new books in 2012, and they are hitting best seller lists at major retailers and the New York Times.

How do you curate this flood? Get involved at the beginning. Libraries need to also promote a culture of authorship. Connect local writers with local readers. Give users the option to publish to the library. Emulate the best practices of the major retailers. Readers are the new curators, not publishers.

Smashwords Library Direct is a new service they are offering.

Speaker: Eric Hellman, from Unglue.it

[Missed the first part as I sought a more comfortable seat.]

They look for zero margin distribution solutions by connecting publishers and libraries. They do it by running crowd-funded pledge drive for every book offer, much like Kickstarter. They’ve been around since May 2012.

For example, Oral Literature in Africa was published by Oxford UP in 1970, and it’s now out of print with the rights reverted to the author. The rights holder set a target amount needed to make the ebook available free to anyone. The successful book is published with a Creative Commons license and made available to anyone via archive.org.

Unglue.it verifies that the rights holder really has the rights and that they can create an ebook. The rights holder retains copyright, and the ebook format is neutral. Books are distributed globally, and distribution rights are not restricted to anyone. No DRM is allowed, so the library ebook vendors are having trouble adopting these books.

This is going to take a lot of work to make it happen, if we just sit and watch it won’t. Get involved.

Speaker: Rush Miller, library director at University of Pittsburgh

Why would a library want to become a publisher? It incentivizes the open access model. It provides services that scholars need and value. It builds collaborations with partners around the world. It improves efficiencies and encourages innovation in scholarly communications.

Began by collaborating with the university press, but it focuses more on books and monographs than journals. The library manages several self-archiving repositories, and they got into journal publishing because the OJS platform looked like something they could handle.

They targeted diminishing circulation journals that the university was already invested in (authors, researchers, etc.) and helped them get online to increase their circulation. They did not charge the editors/publishers of the journals to do it, and encouraged them to move to open access.

IL 2012: CULC and eBound

Holbeach e-book marker [old photo]
“Holbeach e-book marker [old photo]” by Paul Stainthorp
Speaker: Ken Roberts

Background: Canadian Urban Libraries Council (CULC) member libraries serve 70% of the Canadian population, and 98% of the circulation of materials. eBound is the Canadian eContent distribution arm for more than 100 Canadian publishers.

Publishers really needed a purchase model, not a licensing model, because their contracts with authors talked about sales. Libraries, on the other hand, preferred a license model. There was also some concern from the publishers that rights would be implemented in the way they were intended. And, they needed a third party partner to find a vendor who could handle the responsibility of housing and mediating the circulation of the ebooks, which is where eBound came in.

The purchase model seems a bit complex, and focuses primarily on the publisher’s back catalog at a very low rate per title ($10) sold in large blocks to the entire system. This addresses the publisher’s concern that the midlist authors aren’t getting exposure in libraries. And, if the circulation is low, the price drops after a period of time. The titles have a “worn out” rate of approximately 40 circulations. Some titles can be purchased at a higher rate for preservation purposes and would be DRM-free.

They expect to roll out the vendor side systems next spring, and once that is settled, then it would be rolled out to CULC members.