I thought we would start out by making sure everyone is on the same page. Reader’s advisory services tend to be very focused around the book. As you can see, Joyce defines reader’s advisory as helping readers with their leisure reading needs. She wrote this in 2005, well before the watershed of ebooks provided by libraries as a leisure reading service. My goal for this presentation is to get you thinking of ways to incorporate ebooks into the reader’s advisory services you already provide as well as considering the impact of ebooks on reader’s advisory services in the future.
I want you to be honest here. No judgments are being made. These are statements I have heard from someone in some form within the last six months or so. How many of you have thought any of these statements? Green check if you have, red x if you haven’t. (WAIT FOR ANSWERS) Voiced them? Green check if you have, red x if you haven’t. (WAIT FOR ANSWERS) If you put up a green check, you are not alone! Ebooks in libraries are very much a nascent and evolving service. Not only are we in libraries trying to sort out the implications of ebooks, but so are publishers, authors, and other content creators. We all have to balance evolving, hopefully, business models with copyright law and rapidly advancing technology. At last year’s conference, ebooks were on our radar, but in a somewhat distant manner. This year, we can’t turn around without someone asking us about this ebook thing. I had a question last night as I was leaving my knitting group from one of my fellow members about the trouble she had finding books to read on her iPad through WILBOR. Next year, we’ll be dealing with questions and issues we may not be able to even begin to foresee until another couple of months from now.
Growth of the ebook market – The ebook market has exponentially grown in the last three years. It’s still a relatively small piece of the billion dollar publishing industry. I am looking forward to seeing the sales for the first quarter of this year to see what impact this past Christmas may have had.
The first “etext” was keyed into a computer in 1971 at the University of Illinois by a freshman who had been gifted with $100 million of computer time. It was the Declaration of Independence and it was also the beginning of Project Gutenberg. Think about that for a moment. Ebooks turn 40 this year. In the last ten years, the advancements of ebook reading technology has been phenomenal. The commercial market for them has exploded with the romance, science fiction and fantasy genres leading the way with regards to fiction. Small and specialty presses have long been the homes for more experimental forms of writing. These days, the monetary investment for starting one of these presses and only publishing in digital format can be very small, at least compared to the investment of publishing print books and maintaining an inventory. There are many choices out there for readers to choose from. Now, this can be a con, but it’s a boon for us as reader’s advisors as there is an even greater need for our services! Ebooks are very portable, providing you are reading them on a portable device. I currently have over 50 books and stories on my Sony reader. The dimensions for it are approximately 6.9 x 4.8 x .4 inches. That is approximately the same amount of books on one of my bookshelves. One shelf of mass market paperbacks, double shelved. The dimensions for that are 27.25” x 6.75” x 8.5”. Think of that when considering space constraints for your collection. Also think of the number heavy readers in your community who also do a fair amount of traveling, and who like to read when they’re traveling. The adjustability of text size is a leading appeal factor of ereaders. You may find a large number of early adopters of the technology are people who are using them to create their own larger print reading experience. Frankly, it’s a selling point I’ve been using when discussing ereaders for over a year now.
So, moving on to the cons of ebooks. While the price of ereaders have been rapidly decreasing over since the original Kindle was introduced, they’re still expensive for people on a strict budget. I’m a bit of a technophile, but I still only own one ereader if you don’t count my laptop or desktop computers. Which brings us to the reality of additional needed technology beyond the ereaders. Currently, the Kindle is the only dedicated ereading device I’m aware of where you do not need to also own a computer in order to access books. As most of us know, Kindles are not compatible with library ebook lending services. Some multi-function devices such as the iPad and iPod Touch do allow you to download reading apps without ever synching to a computer, but they can sometimes cost as much, if not more than, a computer! Batteries will always be an issue, but as the technology that runs on them evolves, so does the technology of batteries. The issues surrounding Digital Rights Management could be a class on its own. Suffice it to say, there are perfectly good and valid reasons for the implementation of DRM. Unfortunately, the current technology schemes available used to implement DRM makes accessing ebooks very often an unwieldy and frustrating experience. Does anyone have any other pros or cons they would like to add?
Public awareness – How many of you have owned an ereader for three months or more? Green check for yes, red x for no. (WAIT FOR ANSWERS) How many of you received an ereader as a gift in the last two months? Green check for yes, red x for no. (WAIT FOR ANSWERS) How many of you gave an ereader as a gift in the last two months? Green check for yes, red x for no. (WAIT FOR ANSWERS) How many of you have a close family member or friend who received an ereader as a gift or purchased one in the last two months? Green check for yes, red x for no. (WAIT FOR ANSWERS) SYNTHESIZE RESPONSES Does anyone have any questions or comments at this point?
How man of you were asked this in the weeks leading up to Christmas? How did you respond? (WAIT FOR ANSWERS) SYNTHESIZE ANSWERS For those who are still working out how to appropriately respond to this question, we’ll give you some tips and items to think about in the next section of slides.
Brand generic A few weeks ago, discussion on the WILBOR listserve revealed that some librarians are encountering what looks to be the beginning of the generic-ization of the Kindle for ereaders. Is generic-ization a word? If not, it should be. This process is similar to what happened to Kleenex and facial tissues and Xerox and copiers in public perception. We need to be aware that the question our patrons vocalize may not really be the question they are asking.
We need to blend consumer information reference skills with reader’s advisory skills. Being able to identify the different types of ereaders is the first step in this process. Librarians are looked to as information sources for researching major purchases (which an ereader most certainly is), as well as the source for questions about reading. If your library’s budget does not allow for you to purchase demonstration devices, take the opportunity to attend gadget zoos when in the area, or even go to stores such as Barnes and Noble, Borders, Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart, any place that sells them, and look at them, play with them, familiarize yourself with them. This will help you answer the questions you get in a more informed manner.
Here are some questions to ask your someone who is asking you about which ereader to buy. GO INTO REASONS WHY YOU ARE ASKING THESE QUESTIONS. In the chat area, please share the questions you’ve put to patrons and how you use the information to advise the patron.
Personally, I don’t believe libraries should libraries provide ereaders for lending to the public. This is primarily due to terms of service issues. However, as with any legal question, consult with an attorney if you have any questions when contemplating this service model. I would also advise against the endorsement of a particular ereader. However, endorsement is different from stating what works with the systems we provide. The reason I caution against endorsing one, or even two, ereaders is that the reading experience is highly individualized. This is why I always include the Kindle in discussions about what is the most appropriate ereader for the person I am working with. Collection development is tied into the financial investment consideration. If you can afford a minimal investment, do you want to tie up your whole collection to only one or two readers, or would you prefer to let your patrons invest in the reading devices and focus your monies on the collection of titles? Again, if you’ve got the money, I would suggest providing demonstration devices. This allows your patrons the opportunity to test drive the devices while having someone on hand to answer questions who isn’t also trying to sell them the device.
Moving on to the impact of digital format on traditional readers. Frankly as our technology grows up, so do the readers using that technology. This is not to say print is dead and everyone born this year is going to prefer digital over print as they get older, but you will see greater numbers of people who find the technology to be invisible to the reading experience in the same way the codex, or print book is the invisible technology of today.
In some ways, the change to ebooks as a format for the reading experience is more similar to that of the change to audiobooks rather than the change from regular print to large print. This is because there is an intermediary technology involved in the delivery of the story. With audiobooks, it’s the narrator. With ebooks, it’s the technology itself. In many ways we don’t need to change how we talk about the stories contained in ebooks with patrons because they are still “reading” the story, as opposed to listening where the narrator’s voice skills have a significant impact on the story experience. Instead, we need to worry more about what kind of device the person will be reading on and factor that into the types of stories they prefer to read in that format. Some people may love ebooks, but prefer to read short stories, novellas, short novels on ereading devices. Others may enjoy epics like the Wheel of Time or Clan of the Cave Bear series. We are going to need to delve deeper into the individual’s reading habits and preferences. Probably the easiest way to suss out whether or not someone would be amenable to ebooks is to find out what their thoughts are in regards to large print books. Some people may not be ready for large print, but appreciate a larger than normal font and more white space for their reading experience. Covers are a sticking point for many readers when it comes to selection of what to read next, especially when they are perusing what they already have on their device. Publishers have not been as diligent in obtaining the digital rights to cover art as they have been with the text itself. The art representing the book is a major factor in deciding what to read, or at least try out, for many people. Again, as the technology matures, this will likely become a non-issue.
We need to be aware of what titles are available in electronic format. Digital-first/-only (Overdrive does carry titles from these types of presses) Delayed release of digital copy/format. Some publishers delay the release of the digital copy of a title in order to maximize the sales of the print versions.
Why market? – Managing expectations of patrons. Market the service as well as titles. How do you market your ebook services?
I think Brian has a good point with this. At what point are you willing to become stewards and stewardess (as in airline) of experience?
eRA for eBooks
eRA for eBooks? Taking Reader’s Advisory into the eBook Age
What is Reader’s Advisory? <ul><li>“ A patron-centered library service for adult leisure readers. A successful readers’ advisory service is one in which knowledgeable, nonjudgmental staff help fiction and nonfiction readers with their leisure-reading needs.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Joyce Saricks, Readers’ Advisory Service in the Public Library , 3 rd edition (2005) </li></ul></ul>
Why should I care? <ul><li>“ No one in my town is interested in ebooks.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ They’re never available on WILBOR/NEIBORS.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I don’t have an ereader.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ They’re too complicated.” </li></ul>
Ebook Sales <ul><li>Source: International Digital Publishing Forum - http://www.idpf.org/doc_library/industrystats.htm </li></ul>
Ebook Pros <ul><li>Experimental writing and stories </li></ul><ul><li>Portability (depending on reading device) </li></ul><ul><li>Text size adjustability (depending on device) </li></ul><ul><li>Others? </li></ul>
Cons of Ebooks <ul><li>Technical investment </li></ul><ul><li>Can only read for as long as the battery lasts </li></ul><ul><li>Digital Rights Management (DRM) – but depends on the publisher </li></ul><ul><li>Others? </li></ul>
Questions to ask <ul><li>Do you want to be able to borrow books from the library? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you want to be able to do more than read books on it? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you want full color illustrations (if available)? </li></ul>
Lending of ereaders <ul><li>Terms of service </li></ul><ul><li>Collection development </li></ul><ul><li>Financial investment </li></ul>
RA Appeal Factors <ul><li>Pacing, Characterization, Emotional Impact, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Format” – Large print substitute? </li></ul><ul><li>Covers </li></ul>
Marketing <ul><li>Why market? </li></ul><ul><li>How to market </li></ul>
Why should I care? <ul><li>Know your collection </li></ul><ul><li>Be aware of current trends </li></ul><ul><li>eBooks are still books, and to many, the library is books </li></ul>
One last thought <ul><li>“ I feel like a big part of my role over the next 30 years of library leadership is going to be directed toward helping this transition occur—providing patrons with experiences and opportunities to make the leap from the page to the device.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Brian Matthews, The Ubiquitous Librarian (blog), January 18, 2011 </li></ul></ul>
Photo credits <ul><li>eBook Reader by goXunuReviews - http://www.flickr.com/photos/43602175@N06/4070018828/ </li></ul><ul><li>Reader's Advisory Shelf, 2005 by hcplebranch - http://www.flickr.com/photos/hcplebranch/978619164/ </li></ul><ul><li>Girl Reading A Book by This Is A Wake Up Call - http://www.flickr.com/photos/thisisawakeupcall/274938224/ </li></ul>