Mad World of eBooks part one – ALA discussion

On Saturday morning at ALA, a group of librarians and publishers gathered together to discuss the world of eBooks, particularly aspects of consortial purchasing.  Each hour of the discussion a panel of publishers and librarians was on hand to lead the discussion.

The event was organized by Michael Zeoli at YBP, Julie Gammon at the University of Akron, and Tony Horava at OCUL.  Michael began the event with general slides about eBook and print book availability and sales.  He also offered a few anonymous comments from librarians.  I’ll try to get copies of his slides to post.

First group – Jonathan Bunkell, Elsevier, Lisa Nachtigall, Wile, Michael Levine-Clarke, Colorado Alliance, Emily McElroy, Orbis-Cascade

  • Jonathan – aim is to release e first, important that we consider the patrons in the library.  Why are books important? Because they are used.  They conducted a survey of about 4000 researchers (white paper available on Elsevier website).  They said they use them for fundamental knowledge and to deepen and apply methodologies while broadening their perspective.  92% said they regularly perform cross-disciplinary research. When books and journals are made equally available on the E platform, the books are definitely being used.   Use is the main criteria used to determine value and quality.  With ebooks they have reliable use stats.  Can we use the use stats to justify the purchase of books?  Work of publishers has been largely unimaginative.  What can we do next in terms of access and availability, discoverability, and tools?  Access anytime, anywhere, limited DRM, mobile devices, discover in google and discovery tools, offer advanced searching, collaborative tools, data mining, and relevance and context in search results and other semantic web technologies.
  • Lisa – Making sure their online books program is getting the same kind of attention as journals by creating flexible business models.  Lisa described the oBook (online book) options of Wiley Interscience and the variety of business models.  She discussed the opportunities and challenges of Wiley including using YBP’s GOBI platform, supporting customers/consortial/vendor relationships, offering standing order programs for frontlist and digital “textbook” sales.
  • Emily – vision of collection development at Orbis Cascade Alliance is a combined collection (cooperative CD). They prefer individual title selections rather than large collections.  Every member of OCA must contribute to the eBook program, so finding the right business model is key.  They recently asked for eBook proposals from a number of aggregators and publishers.  Their biggest concern:  the multiplier.  This is the formula of a list price x a multiplier of X; they were going with 4 based on print purchasing patterns in the OCA but proposals were coming back anywhere from 4 – 36 (number of members).  These larger numbers didn’t match the OCA purchasing data, they wanted to see circulation numbers and ILL stats on the titles b/c publishers felt the use was higher.  She is very interested to hear how publishers are coming up with the multipliers.
  • Michael – Focus on acquisition and price in his discussion. Several fundamental needs (not specific to consortia):  simultaneous print/e release, they prefer to buy e first; predictability in % of front list that will be available and when it will be available; consistency in ebooks offered through various aggregators; flexibility in how we purchase ebooks (package, title select, subscription).  Patron driven acquisition is huge, they are moving entirely to this model.  They see no need to buy an ebook up front, rather purchase at the point of need. ebooks give the opportunity to reconsider ILL.  We may not need ILL rights with ebooks but rather do a short term loan instead.  Several purchasing issues in terms of pricing:  packages need to be based on previous buying patterns and use; need the ability to build a PDA model on a consortial level, preferably with a sliding discount scale; would like to bundle e with print, how can we build the print discount in with the PDA consortial model?

There was a discussion of the presentations after with lots of attention given to packages vs. single title purchases.  Comments have been purposely not included here by request of the attendees.  However, Jason Price from Claremont did ask a general question to STM publishers that he requested be part of this post:

I’d like to ask the major STM publishers whether they are considering ways to allow patron-driven purchasing of publisher (self) hosted content  through the aggregators/book jobbers.  If so what are your plans? If not —get to it!

Second group (see part two)- Lenny Allen, OUP, Erin Igoe, Cambridge UP, Tony Horava, OCUL, Joy Kirchner, COPPUL

Group three (see part three) – Becky Clark, Johns Hopkins, Alex Holzman, Temple UP, Rob Kairis and Kay Downey, OhioLINK