Recent Events

Ebook Trends and Practices

It was an ebook bonanza—a whole track dedicated to the practices, models, and challenges of ebooks in libraries. I couldn’t get to all the presentations but I’ll mention some of the highlights that I noted. The morning started with a panel of four ebook publishers and providers, moderated by Dick Kaser, ITI’s vp of content. Each company representative had a few minutes to provide an overview of their business model before Dick opened it up for questions. In retrospect, it would have been even more helpful to leave more time for questions—from the moderator and the audience. There are so many interesting issues to explore—including DRM, format standards, limits on downloading and printing, lending restrictions imposed by publishers, and more. (Next time let’s get the publishers too.) Here’s a quick rundown of the points made by each panelist.

Ken Breen of EBSCO discussed the ongoing integration of NetLibrary following its acquisition last year from OCLC. In July the NetLibrary brand will be retired. Actually, just after the session, the official press release came out from EBSCO announcing that a preview site was now available for the new eBooks on EBSCOhost. EBSCOhost libraries will be able to access the preview site through the Try New Features link on EBSCOhost. NetLibrary users will see a banner with the link on the NetLibrary interface. A link to a survey will be included on the preview. EBSCO will offer three user models: one book one user, 3 users, and unlimited use. The company will also introduce a patron-driven lease model option. And, it will replace the NetLibrary Title Select with the new EBSCOhost Collection Manager (ECM).

Leslie Lees of ebrary—now owned by ProQuest—says the company primarily serves the academic market but also has products for corporate, government, and public libraries. It offers unlimited subscription access, perpetual access (purchase and own), and patron driven acquisition (PDA). Short term loans (STL) will be offered starting this spring. ebrary is focusing on adding STM content to its 275,000 titles from some 500 publishers. Its DASH functionality to upload content and make it searchable is now available free to Academic Complete customers and later this year it will be available for individuals.

Bob Nardini of Coutts Information Services, the academic division of Ingram, says its publisher partners put digital files into CoreSource, a digital warehouse that can provide output for retail ebook downloads, print on demand, and MyiLibrary (with single and multiuser models, perpetual ownership, and PDA).  The company has just signed an agreement with OCLC to borrow ebooks. It is also working on allowing downloads to various ereader devices.

Mike Shontz of OverDrive says the company’s role is as library advocate and, according to him, “the state of the union is very good.” He sees overwhelming demand in the public library market—the average library usage is growing 20-30% each month. The company works with thousands of publishers and has more than 500,000 ebooks. He predicts we will see “more and more DRM-free ebooks.”

In the afternoon, Stephen Abram of Gale Cengage Learning provided some fascinating insights into ebook models and his ideas about the correct container for the type of text. The fiction model is wrong for textbooks, he says. Like the new MindTap introduced by Cengage, it needs to accommodate different learning styles, and new ways of interacting with content—a personal learning experience (PLE). (See the recent NewsBreak about MindTap.)

Some of his other comments:

Books will become fundamentally collaborative entities

We’re in a horrible mess of ebook standards

We’re moving to an “article-level” universe (smaller chunks of content)

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