eBooks, DRM, and ILL, a superior blend or a toxic cocktail?

October 4th, 2008 · by spolanka · 3 Comments

My recent discussion with Cynthia Cleto from Springer got me thinking about some issues.  I’m curious if Springer’s model – no DRM and ILL rights – is unique or if other ebook publishers and aggregators offer similar things.  To me, it’s a superior blend, but I’m thinking that most publishers and aggregators feel it’s a toxic cocktail….

DRM – Digital Rights Management.  Springer uses none.  What about others?  I know the services with one book – one user biz models use DRM to control access and checkout/due dates.  But, there are many other services with unlimited simultaneous user access, full print and cut/paste features.  Are they using DRM?  Ones that come to mind are GVRL, Sage, Oxford, Greenwood, and Credo.

Interlibrary Loan – wow, I’ve never heard of any eBook service offering ILL.  Springer allows full ILL on its content, following normal ILL procedures.  Is anyone else doing this?   Typically, ebooks and ILL don’t mix, which is a major disadvantage of ebooks, probably one that is preventing many from taking the eBook route.   Traditionally, we’ve been able to send most of our purchased items via ILL, but with the advent of licensing agreements and authorized uses, we are losing our ILL rights.  It’s nice to see that Springer is not following that road.

I think I’ll start investigating more about DRM and ILL in the eBook world.  That will give me something else to rant about instead of my usual rant – one single platform!

If you have comments or more information on these issues, I’d love to hear them.

Categories: Business Models/Pricing,DRM,Standards

Tags: , , , , , ,

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Marianne // Oct 9, 2008 at 3:29 am

    Dear Sue,
    Thank you very much for your interview. I liked it very much. And yes the online access and chapterwise pdf’s are very convenient.
    We are currently trying to use the Springer ebooks, but we came up with some barriers.
    It appears you can only buy the e-books in a package. The package are subject packages which do not agree to our subject of research. I tryed to buy a singe book. This is not possible directly via Springer, but via a vendor. I got the e-book with DRM limitations all over it: it is on one computer now and I cannot move it.!
    So yes, it is a good deal Springer e-books if you have a broad subject and a lot of money. For specialist research institutes it still is difficult.
    BTW the same goes for Elsevier (ScienceDirect).

  • 2 spolanka // Oct 9, 2008 at 9:05 am

    Marianne,
    You make some very excellent points here. Yes, Springer only sells content in subject packages or the entire publication year so purchasing one title is not an option. Which vendor did you purchase the individual title from Springer? The DRM they use sounds horrible. In the audio interview with Cynthia Cleto she did mention the ability to purchase chapters but we didn’t get into that discussion. I’ll try to investigate more on the chapters for you.

  • 3 Stephen Francoeur // Oct 15, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Hopeful about what Springer’s move to DRM-free ebooks may signify in the industry, but I wish they’d let PDFs be sent via ILL as well.