Should Libraries Invest in eBooks and eReaders? Pros and Cons


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  • A bibliography for this presentation can be found on a LibGuide atI think the question in my mind when I prepared this presentation was “Should libraries change their book collections to become entirely ebooks and ereaders?” At ALA one year, I met a librarian from an academic library with no print materials. Would this be the future for all libraries? Ever since I started regularly using my Palm Pilot over a decade ago, I’ve preferred reading from a screen over print. In researching for this presentation, I found a lot more questions than I did answers.This presentation has very little to do with what the Monroe F. Swilley, Jr., Library is doing at Mercer University in Atlanta.When I presented a shorter version of this presentation last year, the audience thought I was only referring to public libraries.
  • For a year now, thanks to our Circualtion Librarian, the Swilley Library has been loaning a Nook, a Nook Color, a Kindle and a Kindle Fire to patrons.It’s used mostly for circulating popular fiction titles and a growing number of heavily-used academic titles. Patrons cannot transfer a book from one of the ereaders to another device.Raise your hand if you work for a library from which patrons have off-site access to ebooks?Raise your hand if you work for a library from which non-faculty/staff/students or non-residents have off-site access to ebooks?Raise your hand if you work for a library where patrons can check out ereaders?
  • the “Big 6”, publishers with the largest trademarket share.
  • HarperCollins’s assumption is that after 26 checkouts, a print book would experience such wear that a replacement would be purchased.
  • We don’t know if David Lee King intentionally filled his display of books with mostly titles unavailable to libraries. So for a more random sampling, I used the most recent [title]This one lists the top 20 titles sold on for some unknown period of time. Amazon’s list is updated hourly, but I don’t know if their list is of hourly bestsellers.The highlighted titles are ones I noticed currently on New York Times best sellers lists.
  • Crunching the numbers from the chart, we find thatAlmost 4X as much as the average print cost for librariesAlmost 3X as much as the average print cost for consumersAlmost 4X as much as the average ebook cost for consumers
  • The ALA Digital Content & Libraries Working group has been meeting with the “Big 6” publishers that are arguably minimally cooperative in making ebooks available to libraries.It has great recommendations thatthe publishers have not exactly followed.
  • Last fall ALA President Maureen Sulliven sent “an open letter to America’s publishers,” that really sounded more directed to the “Big 6”.Despite the Digital Content & Libraries Working group’s diplomatic approach with publishers through meetings and negotiations, the letter took an activist tone. She accused the publishers of “discriminatory inaction”, asking in the last paragraph “which side will you be on?”
  • In November, state ALA chapters issued a joint statement on eresource pricing. Virtually all of the state chapters have signed on including our own Georgia Library Association.
  • In August, the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library collected 10,000 signatures. They made six copies and mailed them. Still, no budge yet.
  • ALA’s past president Molly Raphael found from meetings with publishers,What libraries see as a convenience, publishers see as a threat.Some publishers had misconceptions about libraries’ online services.They’re also afraid that Digital Rights Management technology that prevents users from copying ebooks or keeping library ebooks indefinitely, could be hacked and patrons could upload the content onto file-sharing sites.They’re selling ebooks but hesitantly. They’re thinking that books may end up like the music industry.Frankly, I think that this is their business model. Reducing or eliminating library access will result in increased sales.
  • As a former electronic resources librarian, I take a licensing perspective on concerns libraries may have about purchasing ebooks or purchasing access to ebooks.Even library-friendlyebook publishers and vendors may have obstacles.Even if there are multiple preloaded books on one device?Even if you do keep it in perpetuity, do you get to keep the software in perpetuity to read the content?At the Mercer Libraries important books faculty recommended to their students have disappeared from ebook databases. We could not ask for a refund because the license allowed for it.
  • Will Google, Amazon or Overdrive respect your patrons’ privacy as much as you do?Three days before public library patrons’ borrowed Kindle ebook expire from their personal devices, they receive advertising from Amazon, asking whether they would be interested in purchasing the titles from Amazon, thereby getting to keep their annotations.Do patrons know if Amazon owns their Kindle’s “margin notes”? In license agreements I’ve read, user’s annotations become the property of the ebook vendor.
  • The cartoon alludes to a common, publisher restriction of library ebooks.
  • An ebook with this restriction can only be checked out by one patron at a time.Patrons don’t understand because it’s counterintuitive. The public’s reference point for digital content is a freely available webpage. Of course, no one is turned away from just because someone else has the page open. I informed a stressed out student the ebook she wanted was checked out and she bursted out laughing.Does the checkout of a title from one library mean that the book is unavailable to all other patrons of all consortial libraries?Ebooks do not accrue overdue fines. Digital rights management technology prohibits access to the ebook after its due date. Will patrons have an incentive to return ebooks, making them available to their fellow patrons, without the threat of overdue fines?At the Swilley Library, it doesn’t matter if the patron is only reading one book from the eReader.  To everyone else, that patron is checking out all of the 14 booksloaded on that ereader.… despite not requiring paper, ink or shipping.
  • The same digital file should be able to be read on any e-reading device or PC! (instead of there being Kindle books that can only be read from a Kindle, etc.) Even if anebook can be read by myriads of ereaders, do library staff want to be providing technical support for each kind? According to personal anecdotes from the Pew Internet and American Life’s report, Libraries, Patrons, and E-books, some librarians spend a significant amount of time providing ebook and ereader technical support.Or will we have the equivalent of a large cassette tape collection and patrons who do not own cassette tape players.Do patrons know some major publishers are not doing business with libraries or charge libraries exorbitantly higher prices than what they charge the public? Or do they think the library is stupid for not carrying an ebook of Hunger Games?
  • Newer Kindles have the same pagination as the printed books.I wonder what Better World Books thinks about library ebooks?How many of you have a print book that is autographed by the author? How many of you wish it was digital instead of analog?
  • Many of these considerations may change in the future due to innovation.(May improve with increased cloud storage)Separate accounts with each ereader?  Amazon allows one account for up to six Kindles, using the family as a model instead of a library.Traditional preservation attempts to salvage books would not apply.
  • May need to invest in hard casing and extended warranties above the cost of the device to protect it.In an elementary school setting, do you want easily distractible, young children reading animated books that make sounds?Do the ereaders have Internet access? Compliance Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requirements (blocking access to pornography, training kids not to bully, etc.)Are the companies like Amazon, Google, AT&T or others that kids might be interfacing with by using the devices, compliant with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)?
  • The National Federation of the Blind sued the Sacramento Public Library and assisted with the lawsuit of the Free Library of Philadelphia because both libraries loaned Nooks without offering any accessible alternative.I am not a lawyer and nothing I say ever can be considered legal advice, but from what I have read, one way to avoid the same fate is to make recent models of the Kindle Fire available for checkout as well. Its features, including reading aloud, are considered accessible. The patron still has to use a touch screen interface though.
  • Book donations will contribute less to libraries’ holdings since ebooks are not easily repurposed.Oftenebook owners are not permitted to share their ebooks with friends without sharing their ereaders too.To use Adobe Digital Editions to download a library ebook to one’s ereader, often one has to have a computer.For people who are on a budget or carry a computer and cell phone with them, an ereader is an added expense, weight or just one more thing to keep track of.It has an on/off switch.
  • Wireless on ereaders allows users to download content - instant gratification/low friction! Ereaders use plastic, mined metals, li-ion batteries, power plants use water. I haven’t seen any study that reading ebooks is better for the environment than reading printed, packaged and shipped paper books.Any ebook can be a large print book.
  • Ereaders will become more attractive becauseDon’t have to carry around a charger and look for open outlets.
  • Libraries save money if the price for multiple locations is the same as the price for one location.
  • If the “Big 6” publishers are not selling or selling ebooks to libraries at higher prices than print books, those five bays could equal to three or four “bays” of ebook equivalent holdings.Will libraries lose relevancy?
  • The patrons of Rockford Public Library in Illinois and their local NAACP chapter, organized a protest against their library administration’s proportion of funds allocated for ebooks. The community is economically challenged. Loaning ebooks off-site presumes that patrons have at least a home computer and Internet access if not an eReader.This Occupier’s concern is about ebook vendors. What if instead of George Orwell, online-only books of a deceased author whose works were only published digitally were removed? Would anyone have retained copies of those books?Reminds me of the grassroots movement against closing the Georgia Archives to the public, but these Rockford patrons also see the shift to ebooks as limiting their access to resources.Investing in ebooks is not all or nothing. How much a library spends on ebooks depends, like everything else a library does, on the needs of its patron population.
  • Another possible threat…Will all of the publishers refusing to work with libraries, eventually rent their ebooks to end-users without libraries as intermediaries?
  • People who watch movies at home without a NetFlix subscription, a Roku box, an Internet connection or a personal collection of movies, use Redbox. Unlike the Blockbusters and other video stores of old, Redboxes are unstaffed and if outside, are available 24/7.Self-service kiosks for laptop or ereader checkout are already available at some libraries. Some kiosks even notify staff when a laptop needs service. I don’t know of any available 24/7 but it’s not hard to imagine.
  • How do libraries stay relevant?In 2005, 69% of people thought books when they thought of libraries.  In 2010, 75%did.  We're moving backwards! They’re not thinking ebooks!
  • According to the Pew Research Center, most patrons do not know that their libraries offerebooks.If 76% of libraries circulate ebooks and most people don’t know it, how do more than a select group know about checking out ereaders from 39% of libraries?Ebooks are stored on servers, computers or expensive devices and not as visible to library patrons as displayed books.
  • Although we’re not a public library, my circulation colleagues have addressed this issue using old technology.
  • According to the Pew Research CenterIn fairness, among ebook readers, 30% said a store or website did not have a book they were looking for.We’ve had many more decades to collect print books compared toebooks.8% of ebook readers said a store or website had the book they were looking for but it was incompatible with their device.If someone could create a waitlist in which the patron could change their position to be further down from where they currently are, it would avoid situations in which patrons gain access to multiple ebooks at one time, can’t read them all, and lose access for another three months.
  • This eight step process is not eight clicks. This took me one day to do.Accessingebooks from one’s ereader is not entirely frictionless as the publishers fear.
  • Do we want the public to know that the library has something they want but can’t get or will find it not worth the trouble to get?
  • Do we want to post attractive photos of some of our patrons’ favorite authors whose ebooks they cannot read from us?
  • A place to be introduced to less known, non-Big 6, small publisher and self-published authors whose pricing can be very favorable to libraries?A place where requested resources are accessible, but you won’t find a repository? (Just in time vs. just in case.)Patron driven access.Community gathering with comfortable seating vs. book storage space.
  • Should Libraries Invest in eBooks and eReaders? Pros and Cons

    1. 1. Florence TangLiaison to the College of Continuing and Professional Studies Mercer University Atlanta Monroe F. Swilley, Jr., Library Wednesday, January 9, 2013
    2. 2. Publisher Percent paperback market share, 2011Random House 29.5%Penguin USA 15.6%Hachette Book Group USA 12.9%Simon & Schuster 9.7%Macmillan 7%HarperCollins 6.6% (Publishers Weekly, 2012)
    3. 3. Publisher Policy regarding library ebook contentRandom House Sells ebooks to libraries at two or three times the cost to individuals.Penguin USA No longer sells ebooks to libraries. Removed Kindle functionality. Experimenting with 1 year leases to New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library of embargoed titles.
    4. 4. Publisher Policy regarding library ebook contentHachette Book Sells ebooks with release dates ofGroup USA April 2010 and earlier to libraries at twice the cost to individuals.Simon&Schuster Does not sell ebooks to libraries.Macmillan Does not sell ebooks to libraries, other than limited Palgrave content. Is working on a pilot program for library lending.HarperCollins Libraries must re-purchase after 26 loans.
    5. 5. = also on as retrieved on January 8
    6. 6.  Average print cost for libraries $14.50 Average print cost for consumers $18.85 Average ebook cost for libraries $55.79 Average ebook cost for consumers $14.77
    7. 7.
    8. 8.
    9. 9.
    10. 10.
    11. 11.  “Borrowing a print book from a library involves… two trips—one to pick up the book and one to return it. The online availability of ebooks alters this friction calculation, and publishers are concerned that the ready download-ability of library ebooks could have an adverse effect on sales.” “[S]ome publishers had the impression that libraries lend to whomever visited their respective websites, thus making collections available virtually worldwide without restriction.“ (Goldberg, 2012, February 8) “already believe that eBooks may kill large publishing houses and view their growth as more of a threat than an opportunity.” (Vinjamuri, 2012, December 11)
    12. 12.  Are libraries paying more money for ebooks than they would for the same number and quality of titles in print? Does the vendor charge by site or FTE? Can the library receive usage figures by title? Can an academic library put ebooks on ereserve? Is interlibrary loaning an ebook acceptable? Does the library keep the books in perpetuity? eBooks disappearing from “big deal” collections On July 17, 2009, purchased George Orwell books (e.g. 1984,) disappeared from Kindles along with user annotations.
    13. 13.  for patron privacy? to not “advance private interests at the expense of library users”?  Amazon advertising to patrons  Who owns patrons’ ebook annotations? http://www.audreywatters .com/2011/12/31/your- public-library-loan- expires-soon-a-note-from- amazon/
    14. 14.  eBooks are easily downloaded/checked out, and unavailable to other patrons. Patrons perceive the library as providing inferior service when an ebook is checked out and unavailable vs. sympathetic when a print copy is checked out and unavailable. If a consortium is sharing ebooks, how many copies of each title are being shared? Can the book be returned early if the patron no longer needs it? Checking out the ereader = Checking out all of the ebooks on the ereader? Less access for a format that usually costs more than print.
    15. 15.  Are the ebooks platform independent? Technical support Will future ereaders be backwards compatible with the ebooks libraries are buying today? Will the library lose revenue since ebooks cannot be overdue? Does purchasing the ebook mean the expenditure for a print copy is not necessary? Do patrons know about publishers’ restrictions to library access? Does the ebook consist of scanned pages without character recognition?
    16. 16.  Is the ebook’s pagination the same as the print pagination? (It may be difficult to cite otherwise.) Can weeded ebooks be sold? Are author-autographed ebooks less valuable? booksigning-of-the-future-autographed-ebooks/
    17. 17.  Will patrons still want to use the ereaders libraries buy today five years from now? Does losing an ereader mean losing all the books stored on it? Is an ereader more susceptible to theft than a paperback? Ereaders and the software to use them were designed for individual users. How do libraries configure ereaders and workstations for shared ereader use? Is the library’s ebook content compatible with the ereader? Less water resistant?
    18. 18.  More wear and tear to the average ereader than the average book. Costs more to replace. Authors can opt-out of Kindle’s text-to-speech feature – win for authors but inconsistency of service for libraries. Young children with gadgets. Minors with Internet access  Childrens Internet Protection Act (CIPA)  Childrens Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Does it require wireless connectivity? Can a patron read from it at home without the Internet? Is your library’s wireless network working consistently?
    19. 19.  How can a patron on waitlists for an ereader and an ebook use both at the same time? According to the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, patrons with blindness or low vision must have equal access to ereaders. ebook-faq-201105_pg2.html
    20. 20.  Can I give the ebooks I have purchased to my public library? No library/ Less convenient to share good books with friends. An addition (not a replacement) to the PC and cell phone. Cannot be used during flight take off or landing. turn-off-all-electronic-devices
    21. 21.  Pew Research Center reports 33% of American adults own a tablet computer or ereader. Pew Research Center reports 46% of those not borrowing ebooks from libraries would like to borrow an ereader loaded with a book they wanted to read. 39% of libraries circulate ereaders. Carry a stack of books without the weight of a stack of books! No need to cover embarrassing book covers.
    22. 22.  Library Journal reports a 102% jump in public library ebook circulation during 2011. Books can be downloaded at any time! No physical travel to the library during hours open! Perception of less harm to the environment Full-text searching May link to dictionary software for easy definition searches. Some books have never been published in print, including multimedia books. Easy to enlarge fonts
    23. 23.  E-ink as comfortable to the eyes as print Non-LCD screens = less battery usage = greater mobility More options for annotating wireless-kitchen/
    24. 24.  Occupy less shelf space Less damage Less likely to have a location status of “missing”. Possible advantages in pricing for multiple locations Patrons want them.
    25. 25. =digitalequivalent of
    26. 26.
    27. 27.  eBooks may be rented at a flat, subscription rate to the end user the way Netflix rents videos
    28. 28.  Redbox kiosks are unstaffed. /redbox-jumps-in-price.html
    29. 29.  Public thinks = =
    30. 30. Know they can 76% check out ebooks 31% Do not know if its possible to borrow ebooks 57% Convinced its not possible to check out ebooks 12% and
    31. 31.  56% of library e-book borrowers tried to borrow an ebook but the library did not carry it. 52% of library e-book borrowers encountered a waiting list when trying to borrow an ebook. 18% of library e-book borrowers wanted to read an ebook the library had but it was incompatible with their device. 22% of ebook readers who do not borrow public library ebooks find it too inconvenient and easier to download it another way – higher than the 19% who didn’t know libraries had ebooks.
    32. 32. 1. Created an Adobe account2. Created an eBrary account3. Downloaded and installed Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) to a PC4. Downloaded and installed Bluefire (or Aldiko) to the Droid Incredible5. Named the phone in Adobe Digital Editions ( ADE)6. Entered Adobe account information into Bluefire7. Dragged and dropped the book to my device using Adobe Digital Editions8. Dragged and dropped the book to my device using the PC
    33. 33. Know they can 76% check out ebooks 31% Do not know if its possible to borrow ebooks 57% Convinced its not possible to check out ebooks 12% and
    34. 34.
    35. 35.  How do we want to re-educate the public to think of libraries with diminishing access to resources? = ?
    36. 36. = ?
    37. 37. END