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.

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



More of Anna’s books »

Book recommendations, book reviews, quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists

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.

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.

ER&L 2012: Does the Use of P-books Impact the Use of E-Books?

sweets & swag
ER&L sweets & swag

Speakers: Michael Levine-Clark & Christopher C. Brown

In Dec 2008, they added all the print and ebooks for university press publisher A, and the duplication is primarily in the frontlist. They did the same for an STM publisher B in Jan 2009.

The have gathered circ data that is compiled annually. Comparing ebooks and print books is like comparing apples and oranges. pBook checkouts are for an extended period of time, and we have no way of knowing how many times they view a chapter or copy a page, the measures of ebook uses.

What a cataloger thinks a title is and what a vendor thinks a title is are two different things. How do you merge use and circ data if the comparison points may vary? Solution was to create an ISBN9, by stripping away the first three numbers of ISBN13 and the last number of the ISBN10, which worked pretty well.

Publisher A had about a third of the ebook titles used, but publisher B had only about 2% used. For print, two thirds of Publisher A titles were used and a little over a third of Publisher B were used.

The two most heavily used ebooks from the UP were probably used for a course. The print books were only checked out a few times, but there were thousands of uses for the e. For publisher B, they were used less but with no print circ. For the top two print, the UP ebook was used some, but not even as many as the checkouts, and for the STM print books, the e wasn’t touched. Overall, there was a high rate of use for both formats of a single title, I think (need to study the slides a little more).

They saw increased checkouts of print books over the time period, but it is inconclusive and could be related to the volume of titles purchased. There isn’t a clear impact of e on p or p on e use, but there does seem to be a connection, since when both formats are used, the rate is higher.

Might there be differences by subject or date? What sort of measure of time in a book can we look at? How does discovery play in?

Questions/Comments:
Date & time of usage rather than one year might tell more of a story.

Agree about the discoverability challenge, and have encouraged them to put in chapter level data in their catalog records to create their own discovery with the MARC record. Full text searching in eBrary is great, but get it in the catalog along with the pbooks.

Did you consider the format of the ebook? Some publishers give PDF chapter downloads, which may account for lower use of Publisher B.

What about ILLs? They get included in the circ stats and aren’t separated.

How much of Chris’s time was spent on this? Hard to tell. Was ongoing over time as other things took priority.

How will this affect your collection development practices moving forward? Trying to give users a choice of format.

ER&L 2012: Taking the Guesswork Out of Demand-Driven Acquisition — Two Approaches

Tome Reader
photo by QQ Li

Speakers: Carol J. Cramer & Derrik Hiatt

They did an analysis of their circulating print collection to see what areas or books would have the equivalent uses to trigger a purchase if it were electronic. Only 2% of their entire circulating collection met the trigger point to where it would be more cost effective to purchase than to go with a short term loan option.

They announced the DDA trial, but deliberately did not tell the users that it would incur cost, just that it was there. They would pay short term loans up to the sixth use, and then they would purchase the title. The year of usage gave them an idea of what adjustments needed to be made to the trigger point. Eventually, the cost flattens out at the sixth use, and the difference between continuing to pay STLs and buying the book is small.

They were able to identify if the triggered purchase book was used by a single person (repeatedly), by a class (several people), or a mix of both, and it was split in almost even thirds.

They determined that 6 was a good trigger. The STL cost ended up being an average of 10.5% of the list cost. DDA doesn’t have to break the bank, and was lower than expected. The number of titles in the catalog didn’t have as much to do with the amount spent as the FTE. It also lead to questioning the value of firm ordering ebooks rather than letting DDA cover it

However, this is only 11 months of data, and more longitudinal studies are needed.

Speaker: Lea Currie

They loaded records for slip books, and then the users have the option to request them at various levels of speed. The users are notified when the print book arrives, and the full MARC record is not loaded until the book is returned.

They saved quit a bit of money per month using this method, and 88% of the titles purchased circulated. Only about 75% of their ILL titles will circulate, to put that into perspective.

Of course, librarians still had some concerns. First, the library catalog is not an adequate tool for discovering titles. Faculty were concerned about individuals doing massive requests for personal research topics. Also, faculty do not want to be selectors for the libraries. [ORLY? They want the books they want when they want them — how is that different?]

The next DDA project was for ebooks, using the typical trigger points. They convinced the Social Science and Sci/Tech librarians to put a price cap for DDA titles. Up to a certain price, the book would be included in the approval plan, between a range it would go in DDA, and then above that range it would require the librarian’s approval. These were written into their YBP profile.

For the pDDA, they discovered that as the books aged, it was harder to do rush orders since they were going out of print. They also modified their language to indicate that the books may not be available if they are out of print.

They have not done DDA for humanities or area studies. They based their decisions on the YBP profile on retrospective reports, which allowed them to get an idea of the average cost.

For FY12, they expect that the breakdown will be 23% eDDA, 50% pDDA, 20% approval, and 7% selected by subject bibliographers. They’ve also given the subject librarians the options to review the automatic approval ebooks — they have a week to reject or shift to DDA each title if they want. They can also shift the expensive titles to DDA if they want to see if anyone would use it before choosing to purchase it.

Questions:
Are you putting the records in your discovery service if you have one, and can you tell if the uses are coming from that or your catalog? Not yet. Implementing a discovery service. Some find resources through Google Scholar.

NASIG 2011: Managing Ebook Acquisition — the Coordination of “P” and “E” Publication Dates

Speaker: Sarah Forzetting & Gabrielle Wiersma

They are sending bib records to their book supplier weekly in order to eliminate duplication of format and other ebook packages. This might be helpful for libraries that purchase ebooks through publisher platforms in addition to through their vendor.

One of the challenges of ebook acquisition is that publishers are delaying publication or embargoing access on aggregators in order to support the print book sales. Fortunately the delay between print and ebook publication is diminishing — the average delay has gone down from 185 days to 21 since 2008.

For certain profiles in the approval plan, Coutts will set aside books that match for a certain period of time until the ebook is available. If the ebook is not available in that time, they will ship the print. If the librarian does not want to wait for the ebook, they can stop the wait process and move forward with the print purchase right away.

Part of the profile setup for e-preferred or print-preferred not only includes the subject areas, but also content type. For example, some reference works are more useful in electronic format.

Oh, my! They have their PDA set up so that two uses trigger a purchase. I should find out what constitutes a use.

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

HarperCollins & the future of ebooks in libraries

I’ve been thinking about the whole debacle over the past few days, and imagining what living models would work best for libraries, publishers, and authors. I am thinking specifically of popular works, as they are a different breed and have different uses than academic works.

The problem is that we keep trying to treat ebooks like they are the same kind of scarce as paper books. They aren’t the same thing at all. The scarcity is manufactured, and unnecessarily so.

I think the best solution for popular ebooks and libraries is a subscription or lease model. Give libraries unlimited simultaneous access to ebooks. Let the libraries regulate who can access them. Charge a flat rate or per use rate or whatever will make a profit on the whole without breaking library budgets.

I realize that authors are paid based on how many volumes sold, and I will leave it up to the lawyers to determine how many subscription uses are equivalent to a sale.

The benefit to libraries is that as the popularity of titles wane, they aren’t stuck with a bunch of unwanted ebooks. The benefit for publishers is that their entire catalog, front and back, is readily available to readers, lengthening the long tail of sales.

And that’s the aspect of library books that isn’t given as much weight as it should. Granted, I am a book person, so perhaps my experience is skewed. However, there a several series and authors that I collect in hardcover now that I was introduced to through my library. I am a cheap reader, so buying in hardcover is something I reserve only for things I really enjoy and plan to hold onto for a long time. I’m not going to buy a hardcover of something unknown, particularly not at list price. I think too often publishers don’t take advantage of the marketing opportunities that libraries provide.

Edited: Wrong publisher. D’oh.