It seems as though OverDrive and 3M garner all of the attention when it comes to ebooks for the public library market. So, it’s nice to see Baker & Taylor’s Axis 360 in the news this week. Library Journal’s Mike Kelley wrote a fabulously detailed article about the service titled, “With Axis 360, Baker & Taylor Establishes a Foothold in the Ebook Distribution Market.” He provides an overview of the digital media platform, Axis 360 and a glimpse of their reader, blio. It’s definitely worth a look, particularly for small libraries with limited funds for ebooks.
I had the chance to speak with Michael Bills, Director of Sales for Digital Products at Baker & Taylor about Axis 360 and Blio a few months ago. Our audio interview is available as part of the NSR interviews series. Have a listen.
Bobbi Newman, who blogs at Librarian by Day, has an excellent editorial post about current Ebook conditions in public libraries. She questions whether libraries should step back and wait for better options, quoting several other prominent bloggers on the subject. It’s an interesting thought piece from a public library perspective. The comments are just as interesting.
Here is a brief clip from the post – Should Libraries Get Out of the Ebook Business?
Or get out at least until there is a better system? I know what you are going to say, I can hear it already – “We can’t! Our patrons demand ebooks!” Except the truth is our patrons want a lot of things we can’t give them – to always be first on the waiting list for the new James Patterson, to not pay fines when their books are late, for the library to be open earlier or later, or to have a system besides Dewey because despite using it their entire lives they still cannot figure it out. When it comes to ebooks, we cannot give them what they want, not really, we cannot give them books from Simon and Schuster or MacMillian or new books from Penguin or Hatchet, and not more than 26 times from HarperCollins, and probably not many books from Random House. What we can do, what maybe we should do, is spend their tax money wisely, and I am no longer convinced that spending it on the current ebook system is a wise move.
A great article is available on the Library Renewal site - $2 BILLION FOR $1 BILLION OF BOOKS: THE ARITHMETIC OF LIBRARY E-BOOK LENDING written by Jonathan Chambers.
Here is a clip from the introductory material: Library Renewal wants to help libraries build a powerful new way to get econtent to their patrons. We envision a new infrastructure, one that is vastly improved, equitable and fairly priced (with hidden costs eliminated). In order to figure out exactly how to make something like that a reality and create an actionable plan we have been busy doing research and meeting with experts from a variety of areas. We’ve naturally talked with plenty of library folks, but we have also actively included and sought out others that have legal, business and publishing expertise. Jonathan Chambers, the author of this piece, fits that bill perfectly and has worked directly with us a great deal over the past year. Here you’ll see the sort of approach some folks working with Library Renewal are thinking about. We (both Library Renewal and Mr. Chambers) would love to hear your reactions to this post in the comments.
*note* While the pricing changes implemented very recently by Random House are not factored into the dollar amounts discussed here, that in no way changes the conclusions that are drawn in this piece. Drastic changes like what we have been seeing related to libraries and econtent are endemic to the systems currently in place. We believe that these sorts of market shifts serve to strengthen the premise that specific types of action are in order and that Library Renewal is the perfect partner for that work. Enjoy!
It’s been coming for months. Today Penguin announced it has ended its relationship with OverDrive. Starting tomorrow, it will no longer sell e-books and audiobooks to OverDrive for library lending. Interestingly, ALA and Big Six publishers met last week to discuss library e-book lending. In an article in paidcontent.org, Laura Hazard Owen points out ALA’s concern about statements publishers made regarding “friction.” Publishers felt a degree of friction existed with physical book checkout – involving 2 trips to the library. They felt the online availability would alter the friction calculation. My response to that….clearly they have never tried to download an e-book from the public library. According to Library Journal’s patron profiles, 23% of ebook patrons reported being unsuccessful in borrowing ebooks because of technical difficulty, while almost 44% could not do so because of title unavailability.” That’s a lot of friction.
Here are some articles with more of the story:
Penguin ends E-book Library Lending and Relationship with OverDrive, Paidcontent.org
Penguin Group Terminating Its Contract with OverDrive, The Digital Shift
Penguin Unfriends Libraries, Agnostic Maybe
Penguin Cuts Off All Library Ebooks, The Digital Reader
And others added after the original post:
ALA, Author’s Guild, and 3M weigh in on Penguin-OverDrive Dispute, The Digital Shift
E-Book Lending Library Rises, Publishing Industry Grapples with Change – Digital Book World
ONLINE magazine has a new column called Ebook Buzz. The column, written by Sue Polanka, features a discussion of university presses and eBooks. From the text:
“What’s the buzz about? EBook Buzz, ONLINE’s newest column, will discuss and debate the advances of ebooks in libraries and scholarly publishing. EBook Buzz will explore varied topics from a practical perspective, whether celebrating successes, exploring opportunities, or sorting through the challenges of ebook adoption. This inaugural column will explore the transformation to ebooks by university presses.
Academic library monograph budgets tell a bleak story. Discretionary funds and approval plans have slowly decreased, favoring instead subscription products and big deal journal collections. It’s both alarming for librarians to watch and impossible for publishers to ignore. University presses, owners of the academic monograph, are feeling increasingly unsettled in this changing budget landscape. They want to transition to a mixed-model—digital and print—system of content delivery, but they must first overcome a number of challenges.” Continue reading