I attended the American Library Association MidWinter Conference in Seattle, Washington January 26 -29th. While there, I was able to speak with several eBook companies about new features and services. Below you will find a list of companies (alpha order) and new features complete with links for more information.
I also want to bring your attention to a few must read reports. First, the ALA Digital Content & Libraries Working Group publication, Ebook Business Models: A Scorecard for Public Libraries. Second, The Pew Internet Library Services in the Digital Age report. Finally, the Scholastic Kids and Family Reading Report (4th Edition). The latter reports provide excellent data to help understand user needs in our digital age.
And now, for the company updates:
The Axis 360 mobile site was launched at the end of October, optimized for browsers on mobile devices. There is an automatic redirect to the mobile version when a mobile device is detected. The “magic wall” is now rendered for mobile with a carousel display. Many new browse functions/categories are available on this new mobile site to help users drill down to the content better. Michael Bills, Director of Sales, Digital Products, says they may adopt this on the full site.
Full testing of ebooks sales from Hachette and Penguin publishers are underway. Hachette testing began in September and the Penguin pilot projects have been in place in two library systems since late 2012. They are expecting to be able to move forward to all libraries following the tests.
APIs were released to ILS companies, discovery services, and mobile apps. These APIs provide real time inventory, checkouts, and holds. A second set of APIs will be released soon. These will send transaction data to the ILS and allow for combined circulation stats on print and electronic books in one place. The APIs will also provide for display of Axis 360 statuses in the patron record of the ILS. Sirsi Dynix beta now, and , III, TLC, and Polaris will all roll out with these in the next couple of months. Bibiocom, Boopsie, and VuFind will follow.
Patron’s can now see the rank of their hold to determine where they are on the list. The patron’s wish list will also be viewable in the catalog (once the APIs are fully functional).
B&T offers about 413,000 ebook titles including 25,000 audiobooks from 297 publishers. The blio and BlueFire reader apps can be used to read the B&T content on devices. Direct downloads in PDF and EPUB formats are also available for PCs and Macs and for syncing to dedicated ereaders. Audiobook content and circulation on Axis 360 launched in January and provides direct-to-device audiobooks downloads via the Acoustik app. The app can be downloaded with sample content from GooglePlay and the Apple App Store.
The biggest news for EBL was ProQuest’s definitive agreement to acquire EBL. This was announced just before the conference. EBL and ebrary platforms will be merged (at some point). Current customers can expect business as usual for the time being. It will take about 6 -8 weeks to complete the legal transactions. After that, the back end platform features will be merged first – publisher contracts, ordering, billing, licensing, etc. In about 18 months, a new combined interface, highlighting the best of EBL and ebrary will be launched. Customers are encouraged to provide feedback to both companies through their local reps, email, or comments on corporate blogs.
EBSCO Publishing (EBSCO) has released the eBook Public Library Collection™ which includes over 25,000 general reference e-book titles in a variety of subjects and topics including social sciences, language and literature and science & technology. The content is non-fiction for the adult audience. They also announced several other services and features, one of which is the ability to switch eBooks purchased on another aggregated platform to the EBSCOhost platform for FREE. They also are offering API’s for ILS integration. Finally, they have release some titles in the ePub format.
Ingram added over 36,000 titles from Random House and publisher-distributor clients. The titles will be added in February, 2013 and will be available in the MyiLibrary platform for libraries.
Also announced was a new content access model. This model provides libraries flexibility in ebook lending. Libraries purchase a number of access credits which can be used for one individual title, either one user at a time, or simultaneously. This cuts down on turnaways while the title is in use by a patron.
OverDrive has a huge array of new services to accompany the one million titles in the collection. The first is the new digital library website redesign. This is in place in several libraries right now. See it live at Cleveland Public Library or Cuyahoga County Public Library. The library website was redesigned for ease of use, and now includes One-Step Checkout, in addition to a number of other improvements to simplify and speed up the user experience. One of these is an assortment of new facets for filtering content.
OverDrive APIs are now available for a variety of ILS companies – Biblionics, Sirsi, TLC. The current APIs available (and that have been integrated into various library OPACs) are Search, Metadata and Availability. The APIs allow real time searching of the OverDrive catalog via one’s library catalog. It shows the number of titles available for checkout. Soon, more APIs will be released to include checkout and hold features within the catalog. More info is available at developer.overdrive.com.
Audiobook and video streaming was announced just before the conference. These will work on any device with a modern web browser and an active internet connection (must be connected to enjoy).
OverDrive Media Stations are now available in a pilot program. These provide a visual display digital content in the physical library. The service is compatible with a touchscreen monitor or existing library workstations and devices. The primary role is discovery and sampling of content, checkout and downloads are not available from the service at this time.
OverDrive Read is browser-based, and also is designed for ease of use. It works in any modern browser for online or offline reading. This new feature enables in-library and in-school reading of OverDrive content. Content is placed in the cache of the browser to allow for offline reading within one’s browser. No DRM activation, software installations, or personal devices needed. This service allows one to read content using their existing desktop or laptop computer.
OverDrive advantage allows libraries the best of both worlds: belong to a shared collection and also have a custom collection just for their community (e.g., additional copies of popular titles, or other titles not in the shared collection). Titles purchased through the advantage program are for use by the local library only, giving the user community a larger selection of content.
OverDrive Test Drive is a program to allow libraries to lend devices, or provide training (or both), that are compatible with the libraries’ OverDrive eBook service. Libraries must enroll in the program (free). They receive device recommendations, promotional materials, best practices ad guidelines to support the device lending program. Libraries must provide their own devices of course, but the program offers assistance in developing an eBook device lending program that doesn’t involve purchasing titles for preloading. The devices recommended in the OTD program allow patrons to borrow a device, browse the library’s digital collection, borrow, read, and return. Devices for low-vision accessibility are also recommended in the program. More information is available at www.overdrive.com/testdrive
Rosen continues to produce high quality interactive resources for children, teens, and families. Their online products support common core standards and provide opportunities to develop transliteracy skills. Rosen is embarking on a mission they have themed – empowering citizens, empowering libraries. They are visiting with local government officials (mayors for example) and discussing with them the benefits of an information literate, financial literate community. They are suggesting ways to gain private funding for online resources (accessible via libraries) to develop these skills in the local community.
My conversation with Roger Rosen was very philosophical. I’d like to share a few of his thoughts on libraries. Rosen believes in the critical mission of working together with the library community to shape the future of libraries and healthy communities through innovation, creativity, leadership, and advocacy. He stated:
“There is a huge economic divide in this country, and that chasm will increase ever more as the technology gap widens. People who have technology at their fingertips, and can buy any book on Amazon in a millisecond, don’t recognize the reality for those who have not been able to keep up technologically, be it through education or economics. You cannot apply for a job in this country any longer unless you do it online. If people don’t have access to the internet or don’t know how to craft an online resume, where are they going to get help? Our magnificent librarians are conducting seminars, providing workstations and internet access for any citizens who needs them. Everyone needs to speak up as advocates for libraries as a great democratic institution. We don’t want to be in a position of appreciating libraries only at the point at which we have lost them.”
StarWalk Kids is a new eBook provider, founded by Seymour Simon and Liz Nealon. They began with about 148 titles in October of 2012, focusing on K-8. 60% of their collection is non-fiction. The streaming collection is designed for multiple simultaneous users for an annual subscription fee. They serve a niche market, supplementing the larger, comprehensive ebook collections for school and public libraries. Books contain professional quality narration (except the chapter books for the older children). The content supports the common core standards and StarWalk provides “Teaching Links” for teachers. These are downloadable PDFs with grade levels, links to the common core standards, ideas to extend learning, assignments.
3M now has 300,000 ebook titles and over 1,000 customers. They are currently the only vendor to offer all customers access to Penguin titles (about 45,000 titles). These titles have a 6 month embargo. They are also providing access to Macmillan content.
3M is live with ILS integration with Polaris, BiblioCommons,and Boopsie. III and Sirsi are targeted for March/April 2013.
The 3M Content Acquisition Tool (CAT) (launching in April) now provides featured book lists created by Heather McCormack (Former LJ Book Review Editor). Imagine “if you liked The Hunger Games, try these.” The CAT now offers a save search feature, multiple shopping carts, improved searching capabilities, and eISBN searching as well.
3M still provides their own eInk eReader for $149 each. Libraries can check them out to patrons with no preloaded content. Patrons can borrow, search for 3M books, read, and return. The device is easily restored to default settings for the next customer. 3M also provides the 3M Discovery Terminals, which allow readers to find and check out digital content at the library using a touch interface.
I also want to mention a few updates about MediaSurfer. This is a product designed for self-checkout of iPads. I featured this new service in the ALAMW wrap-up webinar last year. They were at the conference again this year. The product is still in beta testing in several libraries. During testing they came to the conclusion that there were too many options for first release, making the product too complicated without fully understanding what customers are looking for. So they scaled back on some of the product features. For example, they removed credit card scanning from MediaSurfer. This was originally added to deter from theft. In addition, they decided not to print receipts, but have the ability to send a receipt to a customer if their email address is already in the ILS. This falls in line with the digital product and providing email receipts to customers – like RedBox!
The physical product “look” has changed ever so slightly, with the orientation of the slots. They started with horizontal slots for the ipads and have converted to vertical slots. This decision was made in an effort to protect the ipads should any liquids spill on the system.
Pricing remains the same, 25K not including iPads and shipment charges and the MS extension Tower is priced at 17K, not including iPads and shipment charges. They do plan to launch a new product at ALA Annual. They couldn’t tell me more about it, but did make this statement, “We think this will be another alternative in the MediaSurfer Family of products that will appeal to smaller libraries with budget constraints.”