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The Lay of the Land: Libraries, eBooks,

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  • Today, we’re going to take a look at a number of things: - mechanics of ebooks - hardware and software issues - DRM - the publishing industry and - the potential implications for libraries down the road. Before we start to examine the environment, let’s get a sense of the lay of the land right here. - Who has an ebook reader? - Who has used their library’s ebook software, such as NetLibrary or Overdrive? - Who has read a book on their phone, tablet, or other portable device? - Who has never used an ebook?Library’s reading interest survey – Last year: - ~87 % of respondents said they never read ebooksThis year: - ~76 % - a pretty dramatic change in less than a year. This is just the number of people who have taken the plunge. Based on the amount of interest and the number of questions we get from patrons, I’m pretty confident that the number of “nevers” is going to shrink further. This rate may seem slow to some, but I can’t blame people for feeling cautious about all this. Because the landscape?
  • It’s crazy. Amazon now sells 143 Kindle books for every 100 hardcover titles they sell. Forrester Research – one of the many, many market research firms taking an interest in this industry – indicate that the eBook market is inches away from 1 billion dollars in consumer sales. They estimate that number to triple by 2015. These numbers, which are fairly conservative, has many media providers – not just publishers – eager to get involved in the digital distribution of print materials. A big part of it lies in the fact that there are so many options. If you’re not a publisher, you can get in on the hardware game. Don’t want to invest in creating a stand-alone device? There are plenty of ways to create software and apps capable of reading eBooks. There are even options for authors to create and sell their own works without the roadblocks that come with traditional print media. Where do libraries fit into all this? Can we get a place at this table? Should we even want one? At this point in time, there are more questions than answers out there regarding. To get a better sense of how we can serve our patrons in this mixed-up crazy ebook world, let’s take a look at what makes them tick. I’m hoping that this will prepare you for patron questions, and maybe get all of us thinking about possible ways for us to provide new services at patron’s point of need.
  • 20-year development cycle for major implementations of technology. Usually the first product explosion begins around year 17.Electronic paper has been in development since the 70s, but this form of e-ink first started coming together in the early 90s. Guess where we are about now? How e-ink works - Microcapsules – Keith Peters and his microscope - mimics print ebooks - preserves battery lifeContrast between a computer monitor – which needs to refresh to show dynamic content, and ebooks, which - minimizes eyestrain Some people still like screens. There’s a lot of us out there that already spend 10+ hours a day staring at a screen, so what’s a few more? The acceptance of a screen technology for the screen-phobic is creating a market for long-form written content on a screen. This, in turn, is separating the content from the form in which it’s packaged.
  • 20-year development cycle for major implementations of technology. Usually the first product explosion begins around year 17.Electronic paper has been in development since the 70s, but this form of e-ink first started coming together in the early 90s. Guess where we are about now? How e-ink works - Microcapsules – Keith Peters and his microscope - mimics print ebooks - preserves battery lifeContrast between a computer monitor – which needs to refresh to show dynamic content, and ebooks, which - minimizes eyestrain Some people still like screens. There’s a lot of us out there that already spend 10+ hours a day staring at a screen, so what’s a few more? The acceptance of a screen technology for the screen-phobic is creating a market for long-form written content on a screen. This, in turn, is separating the content from the form in which it’s packaged.
  • 20-year development cycle for major implementations of technology. Usually the first product explosion begins around year 17.Electronic paper has been in development since the 70s, but this form of e-ink first started coming together in the early 90s. Guess where we are about now? How e-ink works - Microcapsules – Keith Peters and his microscope - mimics print ebooks - preserves battery lifeContrast between a computer monitor – which needs to refresh to show dynamic content, and ebooks, which - minimizes eyestrain Some people still like screens. There’s a lot of us out there that already spend 10+ hours a day staring at a screen, so what’s a few more? The acceptance of a screen technology for the screen-phobic is creating a market for long-form written content on a screen. This, in turn, is separating the content from the form in which it’s packaged.
  • A big part of what e-readers do is separate the content – the text of the book – from the physical object holding it. This has been happening with documents and media on the Web for quite a long time. The music industry was the first to meet this change, and we’re now seeing the same thing with video and of course, ebooks.That means we’re turning our content into software. Which means you need to recognize filetypes. Luckily you don’t have to know too much about them. From a service perspective, it’s best to simply knowEarly stages of the online music industry - .ra, .wmv, .ogg, .aac, Then mp3 came along, with Apple the only holdout .prc and .mobi – early mobipocket forms.doc, .txt, and .rtf – plaintext modes w/o DRM – only for free ebooks and imported personal files. Luckily, we only really have to worry about .pdf and .epub, as far as commercial ebooks are concerned. .amz – Amazon’s counterpart to Apple’s AAC. It remains to be seen whether they will open up their device to competing formats.
  • Separating the form from the content means that we have a ton of freedom to select the container of our choosing. Access – direct download or sync with other device? Adjustability – brightness, print size, fontFeatures – web browser? Email? Apps?Cost – It’s only a matter of time before a major device breaks the $99 barrier. Touch-screen (Sony) – trade-off in visibilityHybrid (nook) – Janky user interfaceDedicated eBook readers: Nook, Kindle, Kobo, Sony ReaderMulti-function devices: iPad, nook colorApps for: Devices where the content is an added feature to the device, and not its primary function.What’s the most popular? – Forrester study found that 35% prefer their laptop, beating the Kindle by 3 points. Ranging from 9-15% of users were the iPhone, the Sony Reader, the netbook, the Nook, and the iPad. The question I get all the time:Which one is best? Your mileage may vary. Personally – phone app. Convenience, portabilityWife – ebook reader. Special waterproof cover, which you can get at any grocery store for about 3.50-for-20. You know it’s sealed when the yellow-and-blue parts make green.Really, the best way to help your public with these is to spend some time with as many devices as possible, and get familiar with their quirks. It helps to have a comparison chart for your patrons. I’ll post mine on the RLACE website.
  • Interoperability is another huge advantage that comes from separating form and content, and a spot where the Kindle has another huge advantage.D/L once – sync across multiple devicesSave progress – pick up on another deviceNotes and annotations carry over as well. Lending materials to fellow device owners.All of this his becomes more important as more devices become available to us. One of Pew’s most recent studies focuses on those who readily access four or more connected devices in their daily activities. What age group makes up the largest part of “four or more”? 30-49ers. Dropbox, ebooks, etc – making it easier to do more work in multiple locations.
  • Same persistent connectedness affecting how we use these materials to interact. We’re just now learning to implement this feature, but the potential is staggering.Imaging a layer over your reading, allowing those in your network to post notes, highlighted passages, or other comments. You can turn these on and off at any time. Or another layer that shows reviews, criticism, or other annotations. Great opportunity for libraries to provide notes, annotations, and a lot of that stuff we like to use to promote our collection and facilitate conversation.
  • Basic bonuses – dictionary lookup, web links to Wikipedia and other referencesDeluxe opportunities – Criterion ebooksJ.A. Konrath’s visionAvailable in basic format for people who just want to read the book, or deluxe for those who want moreAlso options for smaller stuff to come out – Konrath’s stories selling at .99 each. Read his blog for some great perspective on how an author has leveraged the ebook market to his own advantage - smashwords.com - now Amazon-exclusiveChildren’s books – huge opportunity - dictionary - animation - Look at TumbleBooks as an example
  • All of this isn’t to say there isn’t still room for dead-tree books. (Though don’t let Stephen Abram hear I said that.) Espresso printer – print-on-demandOne craft blog offered a method for printing and binding your favorite ebooks.Similarly, even if the numbers of digitally distributed books overtake print, there will always be a market for books as collector’s items. It may not be as big as it currently is, but there’s still plenty of value – especially if they take the deluxe route. My rules for buying music.
  • Now, separating form from content, and documents into software isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. The digital version now comes with a host of caveats, all of which serve to lock the item down. (advance to lock)You’re no longer purchasing a book – you’re purchasing a license to read the book.Amazon’s 1984 debacle – shows what happens if anyone’s stupid enough to revoke that license, but it’s still there. The other thing these licenses do is take away our right of first sale. Considering that comprises the very backbone of how we’re able to loan out materials, we definitely need to start paying attention. Because publishers certainly are starting to take notice. John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan @ meetup of various publishersLibraries are a “thorny problem” …"If there's a model where the publisher gets a piece of the action every time the book is borrowed, that's an interesting model."Let’s take a look at this side of the environment.
  • First off, we can consider the vendors that are working with libraries. Who has OverDrive? Who has NetLibrary? What has your experience been? Do they have all those super-convenient features I’ve just discussed? Role as middlemen: repackaging content offered by another source further up the line. All in all, it’s far less flexible than our traditional method: we buy a book, we put it on the shelf, patron checks it out, lather-rinse-repeat.Issues: Limited selection – can add “local” titles, but can’t add eBooks off-the-shelfTurnaround timeOther issues: MARC recordsAnd OD and NL aren’t completely to blame here – in a lot of ways, they’re just as stuck as we are.
  • It’s not only here. As publishers attempt to stake their claim on digital distribution, it affects prices. John Sargent led the charge last year against Amazon to move the price point past 9.99 for consumers, and now many bestsellers are starting at 12.99. Sharp contrast to the authors – like Konrath – who are finding success packaging their books at a much lower price point. Backlash that’s starting to emerge – a “Too Expensive for Kindle” group online.Imagine how this is going to effect library pricing, or any attempt to acquire electronic materials with the same degree of loan flexibility that we’re currently accustomed to. Licensing – European model – cost per circ.
  • Then there’s the usability factor. Adobe Digital EditionsFixed loan timesover183,000 book circs in October229 ebook circsThe commercial sites have tons of free and lower-cost materials, and customers are downloading them regularly. It’s much easier to click “download now,” than it is to go through all the steps Brad lists here. Every day this goes on places our market further and further at risk. That’s bad.
  • It’s not completely bleak. We’re finally starting to get some more flexibilityiPhone app – coming in dec(where’s Android?)2 days later – release of Bluefire iPhone app – allows ebooks to be transferred or emailed to phone. We’re getting lapped in a lot of ways. This stuff is changing every day, and our institutions aren’t necessarily known for being nimble.
  • It’s not completely bleak. We’re finally starting to get some more flexibilityiPhone app – coming in dec(where’s Android?)2 days later – release of Bluefire iPhone app – allows ebooks to be transferred or emailed to phone. We’re getting lapped in a lot of ways. This stuff is changing every day, and our institutions aren’t necessarily known for being nimble.
  • So how do we move forward?A big part of the issue involves determine exactly what it is we want in the first place. Some of the big things on my list: - platform agnosticism - direct download for mobile devices - ability to add more items to my collection - ability to return books early/free up slots in quota - option to purchase bookThink about this while you’re here, and let’s hear more of your suggestions later on.
  • As you start thinking about what will allow us to have a seat at the big kids table, it’s important to remember that there are a few bright spots. SpringerLink – academic publisher – no DRM, and also offers ILL rightsO’Reilly publishing – books published w/o DRM, and readily available via Safari Books. Still no way to get these titles into our existing digital content infrastructure.These are both fairly limited solutions, but it demonstrates that there are a few publishers that aren’t completely threatened by us.
  • PIA – users have access to a full catalog of resources. Checked out certain number of times, then the item is “purchased” and library is charged - from here, the library owns the itemOverdrive has PIA as one of their coming-soon features.
  • And then there’s the question of what we can do for ourselves. David Rothman, founder of ebook news site TeleRead writes in the Atlantic about whether we can create a National Digital Library, and provides a huge list of reasons why we should pursue it. A big part of this is going to require some major growing pains. This may require a pay-per-use system like what I mentioned earlier, or a different model altogether. But it’s still largely a pipe dream. We’re such a fragmented set of organizations, that any decision in this direction may take too much time to assemble. At this point, a National Digital Library is something of a mythical creature. All the while, a certain shadow looms over us. And it’s such a nagging question that I have to resort to an animated transition:
  • And then there’s the question of what we can do for ourselves. David Rothman, founder of ebook news site TeleRead writes in the Atlantic about whether we can create a National Digital Library, and provides a huge list of reasons why we should pursue it. A big part of this is going to require some major growing pains. This may require a pay-per-use system like what I mentioned earlier, or a different model altogether. But it’s still largely a pipe dream. We’re such a fragmented set of organizations, that any decision in this direction may take too much time to assemble. At this point, a National Digital Library is something of a mythical creature. All the while, a certain shadow looms over us. And it’s such a nagging question that I have to resort to an animated transition:
  • Did anyone see Eli Neiburger’s presentation at the eBook summit back in September?He does a great job of laying all these issues on the line.The digital market for all of our collections – books, music, and videos – is beginning to outpace demand for the phyiscal counterparts. It’s only a matter of time before it becomes less cost-effective for many items to be produced in a hard copy at all. What’s going to happen to our collections then? Furthermore, when it takes fractions of a second to acquire any type of digital document, how useful is it to tell our users “we can get that for you in 2-3 weeks”? There’s a good chance we’re already at the tipping point with all of this. It’s impossible to know for sure. But let’s take a look at a few possible scenarios.
  • Market –iTunes driving market – closed, AAC formatAmazon mp3 – DRM-free, driving all vendors to follow suit. You’d think they had learned their lesson. Or maybe they’ve learned it a bit too well. As long as Amazon can get their content on a wide variety of devices, fewer people will complain about compatibility issues. So they hope. How the library implements a digital model.Freegal – kind of like buying iTunes cards for our patrons, only with a worse selection and a greater cost. How’s this going to work for digital video?
  • Library Renewal – Michael Porter’s new nonprofit.Working to get off the ground, and start a whole new dialogue. But they need to hear from us. Remember how I asked what we want out of our digital collection? This is a good place to turn the discussion when today’s program is over.
  • But we also need to be open to the fact that the idea of the traditional circulating concept may not be our destiny. We have a tendency to run off a laundry list of benefits to libraries – community space, research institution, cultural venue, business center – and when attempting to preach to the unconverted, all that stuff on the list turns in to noise. What we really are – in more concise terms – is a platform for personal growth and community development. We provide the means, and help the user to ascribe their own meaning. As digital access becomes more ubiquitous, it also becomes easier for an individual to create their own documents. We see established authors taking advantage of this with self-publishing platforms like Smashwords and Amazon’s ebook creation tools. But there are plenty of other tools for all of us to become publishers: YouTube. WordPressLibraries focusing on content creation – allowing the community to become the collection. We provide the tools, and curate the collection as a running document of community space. Seeing successes here – YouMedia, Barrington, SkokieAs these tools become more flexible, we’ll have a greater responsibility to teach people how to use them. In doing so, we’ll have a much stronger overlap between our physical and digital communities. As Joan Frye Williams puts it, we need to be the kitchen, not the grocery store.
  • What’s the most likely scenario? It’ll probably be some combination of all these things. And throughout it all, the same level of demand patrons show for commercial ebooks is carrying over to any digital materials we’re able to offer. Catalog record for our Sony Readers. We’ve had them since July, and there’s been around 30 holds on them since then. Each of these represents a chance to tell our public more about what’s at stake. Optima presentation – people want to know how this stuff works. We’ve got to tell them how it’s going to affect them. The way things are going, eBooks in libraries isn’t necessarily guaranteed. Publishers are wary of us eating into their markets. But not only do we buy a lot of books, we end up doing a lot of their marketing for them. I remain optimistic that we’ll be able to demonstrate that their current attitude is penny-wise and pound-foolish. It’s only by having these conversations – with one another, with our patrons, and with our content providers – that will make sure our collections have a future.

The Lay of the Land: Libraries, eBooks, The Lay of the Land: Libraries, eBooks, Presentation Transcript

  • The Lay of the Land:
    Libraries, eBooks, and the Future
    Toby Greenwalt | 18 November 2010 | An RLACE Program
  • May you live in interesting times
  • eBooks under the microscope
  • eBooks under the microscope
  • eBooks under the microscope
  • Turning content into software
    obi.pdf.doc.azw.txt.epub.prc.mobi.doc.pdf.epub.prc.mobi.doc.pdf.epub.txt.azw.rtf.doc.prc.azw.pdf.epub.prc.mobi.doc.pdf.azw.mobi.rtf.epub.pdf.azw.prc.txt.doc.epub.pdf.mobi.txt.epub.pdf.rtf.prc.azw.doc.txt.azw.pdf.prc.rtf.mobi.epub.doc.pdf.prc.mobi.azw.doc.txt.epub.az
  • Pick your poison
  • Interoperability
  • Social features
  • Value-added content
  • Still room for printed media
  • Enter the publishing industry
  • What are our options?
  • A matter of cost
  • The usability factor
  • Coming soon?
  • Coming soon?
  • What do we want?
  • Current options: friendly publishers
  • Current options: patron-driven acquisitions
  • Current options: the National Digital Library?
  • Current options: the National Digital Library?
  • The market has a way
  • If you want something done right…
    libraryrenewal.org
  • The collection is us
  • Demand creates opportunity
  • Thank You
    Continue the Conversation:
    theanalogdivide.com
    theanalogdivide@gmail.com | @theanalogdivide
  • Sources + Credits:
    Slide 2: http://www.topatoco.com/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=TO& Product_Code=BEAT-READING&Category_Code=BEAT (Used with permission.)
    - http://blogs.forrester.com/james_mcquivey/10-11-08-ebooks_ready_to_climb_past_1_billion
    Slide 3/4/5: http://www.bit-101.com/blog/?p=2722 (Used with permission.)
    Slide 7: http://www.flickr.com/photos/clonedmilkmen/5111779335/ (cc Cloned Milkmen)
    Slide 8: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikeoliveri/4608158126/ (cc Mike Oliveri)
    - http://www.pewinternet.org/Presentations/2010/Jun/Four-or-More--The-New-Demographic.aspx
    Slide 10: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2009/11/e-volution.html
    Slide 11: http://curbly.com/diy-maven/posts/8297-how-to-bind-your-favorite-ebooks
    Slide 12: http://go-to-hellman.blogspot.com/2010/03/ebooks-in-libraries-thorny-problem-says.html
    Slide 15: http://bradcolbow.com/archive/view/the_brads_why_drm_doesnt_work/?p=205
    (Used with permission)
    Slide 16: http://overdriveblogs.com/library/2010/11/09/sneak-preview-overdrive-ebook-app-for-iphone/
    Slide 17: http://mobiputing.com/tag/bluefire-reader/
    Slide 19: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/digital/content-and-e-books/article/45000-libraries-say-no-drm--springer-agrees-.html
    Slide 21: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kt/447777117/ (cc Kevin Trotman)
    - http://www.theatlantic.com/personal/archive/2010/11/why-we-cant-afford-not-to-create-a-well-stocked-national-digital-library-system/66111/1/
    Slide 23: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqAwj5ssU2c
    Slide 24: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWWdBA-Cres
    Slide 25: http://www.libraryrenewal.com
    Slide 26: http://www.walkingpaper.org/2790 (cc Aaron Schmidt)
    Slide 27: http://aquabrowser.skokielibrary.info/?hreciid=%7clibrary%2fmarc%2fskokie-iii%7cb1632564
    For more, please see http://www.delicious.com/tgreenwalt/rlace