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.

NASIG 2009: Registration Ruminations

Presenters: Kristina Krusmark and Mary Throumoulos

More than 60% of all content purchased has an electronic component. This is continually increasing, requiring more things that need to be registered.

Last summer, Ebsco commissioned a study to identify challenges in online content purchases. About 455 participants, mostly from North America, and they identified registration and activation as the primary issue. The survey found that the process is too complicated. There isn’t a standard model, and often the instructions/information are incomplete. Another challenge the survey found was with a lack of sufficient staffing to properly manage the process. This results in delays in access or titles not being registered at all.

If users don’t have access to content, then they won’t use the content, even if it had been paid for. When librarians look at usage to make collection development decisions, the lack or delay in activation could have a huge impact on whether or not to retain the subscription. And, as one audience member noted, after having bad or frustrating experiences with registering for access, librarians might be hesitant to subscribe to online journals that are difficult to “turn on.”

Recently, Throumoulos’s library decided to convert as much as possible to online-only. They canceled print journals that were also available through aggregators like Project Muse, and made decisions about whether to retain print-only titles. Then they began the long process of activating those online subscriptions.

For online-only, most of the time the license process results in access without registration. For print+online titles, the registration process can be more complicated, and sometimes involving information from mailing labels, which may or may not be retained in processing.

Agents would like to be able to register on behalf of libraries, and most do so when they are able to. However, many publishers want the customer, not the agent, to register access. When agents can’t register for the customer, they do try to provide as much information about the process (links, instructions, customer numbers, basic license terms, etc.).

Opportunities for improvement: standardization of registration models, greater efficiencies between agents and publishers, and industry initiatives like SERU.

CiL 2008: What Do Users Really Do in Their Native Habitat?

Speakers: Pascal Lupien and Randy Oldham

Unsubstantiated assumptions about Millennials cause libraries to make poor choices in providing services and resources. Lupien and Oldham spent some time studying how students actually use the tools we think they use. They used typical survey and focus group methodologies, which make for rather boring presentation recaps, so I won’t mention them.

Study found that only 9% of students used PDAs, and tended to be among older students. 69% of students had cell phones, but only 17% of them have ever used them to browse the Internet. 93% of student have used a chat client, and most have used them for academic purposes several times per week. 50% of users had never used online social network applications for academic group work.

The focus groups found that students preferred email over online social networks for group work. Students are more willing to share the results of their work with friends than with other classmates.

42% of students has never played online games, and men were three times more likely to do so than women. Only 4.1% were involved with online virtual worlds like World of Warcraft and Second Life.

The survey respondents indicated they were more likely to go to the library’s website first rather than Google. The focus groups also confirmed this, in addition to indicating that the library had the best sources of information despite being the most difficult to manage.

Students are reluctant to mix personal and academic computing. The uptake on online social networks for academic use has been slow, but will likely increase, and we have to ask, “is this the best use of our resources and time?” Our priorities need to be more on improving the services we already offer, such as our websites and search tools. “Rather than looking at technologies & trying to find a use for them in our environment, we should determine what our students need & seek solutions to meet those needs.”


Speaker: John Law

Proquest conducted a survey of seven universities across North America and the United Kingdom, involving 60 students. As with Lupien and Oldham’s study, they conducted it anonymously. Observations were conducted in a variety of locations, from the library to dorm rooms. They used a program like web conferencing software to capture the remote sessions.

Law gave an anecdote of a fourth year student who did all the things librarians want students to do when doing research, and when he was asked why, the student gave all the right answers. Then, when he was asked how long he had been doing his research that way, he indicated something like six weeks, after a librarian had come to his class to teach them about using the library’s resources. Library instruction works.

Course instructors are also influential. “My English instructor told me to use JSTOR.”

Brand recognition is fine, but it doesn’t necessarily effect the likelihood that resources will be used more or less.

Students use abstracts to identify relevant articles, even when the full text is available. They’re comfortable navigating in several different search engines, but not as well with library websites in locating relevant resources. Users don’t always understand what the search box is searching (books, articles, etc.), and can find it to be discouraging. A-Z databases page is too unmanageable for most users, particularly when starting their research.

Students are using Google for their research, but mainly for handy look-ups and not as a primary research tool. Those who use Google as a primary research tool do so because they aren’t as concerned with quality or are insufficiently aware of library eresources or have had bad experiences with library eresources.

Librarians, students use Google and Wikipedia the same way you do. (We know you all use those tools, so don’t even try to deny it.)

Students laughed at surveyors when asked how they use online social networks for academic purposes.

infusion

A valiant first effort at fiction writing by technical author Clint Smith, but it falls short of its promise.

Infusion by Clint Smith

Infusion is a valiant first effort at fiction writing by technical author Clint Smith, but it falls short of its promise. The plot concept is sound, and makes interesting parallels with the conflicts between economics and ecology, but the actual story-telling could use a bit more work, or at least a better editor. The first half of the book left me cringing quite often, but the pace and the writing pick up in the last third of the book.

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