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

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.

October Audio Interview – Cynthia Cleto, Springer

Yesterday I had a wonderful conversation with Cynthia Cleto, Global eProduct Manager for eBooks, Springer.  We discussed the Springer content, business models, and results of some usage surveys they have done.  IMHO, it’s very informative and touches on some interesting eBook issues like DRM and Interlibrary Loan.  Yes, I did just mention eBooks and ILL in the same sentence!

Check it out here, or on the interviews page.

First McGill, now Michigan. Libraries in the Print-on-Demand Biz

I was envious with McGill’s news, and now Michigan!  Talk about rubbing salt on my wounds….

Seriously, this is fantastic news for UM Libraries.  Their new “Espresso Book Machine,” – and it ain’t coffee folks - will print-on-demand titles from the UM digital collection.  Public domain titles from the 2 million item collection will be the first shot for Espresso.  Books will cost around $10.00, but must be picked up in person, as UM doesn’t plan on getting in the shipping business.

LJ News has a nice story. For more information on the Espresso, check out On Demand Books.

ABC-CLIO will now Publish Greenwood Imprints

Big news in reference publishing today.  ABC-CLIO has licensed the content of Greenwood Imprints.  Here’s a clip of the press release:

ABC-CLIO and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt today announced an agreement granting ABC-CLIO a perpetual license to use the imprints and publish the titles of Greenwood Publishing Group, including Greenwood Press, Praeger Publishers, Praeger Security International and Libraries Unlimited. In addition, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will transfer certain assets, including copyrights, contracts and inventory, of Greenwood Publishing Group to ABC-CLIO. This agreement is effective immediately.

According to Ron Boehm, a No Shelf Required Advisory Board Member, oh, and the CEO of ABC-CLIO, they will dramatically be scaling up the eBook program with this combination.  I like to hear that news!

Sounds like the perfect October audio interview to me….Ron, you up for it?

DailyLit – reading your books in small pieces, via email or RSS

Have you heard of DailyLit? – it’s pretty cool.  DailyLit provides small installments of books to users through an email message or RSS feed, daily.  Hey, since it’s not a piece of paper, I consider this an eBook!  It was built on the premise that we don’t have time to read books, but yet we still find time to read email, so they combined the two!

They have over 950 titles either for free or a small access fee.  Many are classics and now, some are provided by none other than Oxford University Press!

It’s easy to set-up a free account and get started.  You can determine how frequently you want the installments delivered, and even choose the time of day.  For my first title, I chose Tom Peter’s 100 Ways to Succeed and Make Money.  My first installment (of 100) was a simple read of 362 words – all about being neat and tidy!

But my next title will definitely be:   Skinny Bitch in the Kitch: Kick-Ass Recipes for Hungry Girls Who Want to Stop Cooking Crap (and Start Looking Hot!)   hmmm.

They have a blog, rating and review area, and plenty of ways for their members (over 125K) to converse.  Check it out.  I’m off to clean my desk ;)

Using eBooks for students with disabilities

Now here is a great use for eBooks - increasing access to traditional print textbooks for students with disabilities.

SOCHE, the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education received a grant to provide an online library of electronic textbooks to qualifying students at 12 institutions in Ohio.  These electronic textbooks offer students with disabilities the chance to listen to the textbooks via screen reading software, increase the font size on computer screens, and probably lots of other things too.  Things that were much more difficult or impossible to do with a print copy.

Prior to this collaboration, each school had to transfer the textbooks to electronic format.  So the same textbook may have been transferred to electronic format 12 times.  Now, only one copy is transferred and the 12 schools can share access to the title.  For those of you thinking these students get free books, nadda.  Each student still has to purchase a copy of the title, then they are given access to it electronically.

It would be great to make this a statewide, or even nationwide effort.  Think of the money that could be saved.  Do other universities or even public libraries participate in similar activities?

eBooks usage revealed, a webinar from Springer

This morning I “attended” the Springer webinar on eBook usage.  It was very informative and obviously focused on Springer content, but it did confirm some of my suspicions about eBook usage.   Here are some highlights:

They use COUNTER, as do most other eBook publishers/aggregators.  COUNTER is incredibly detailed with usage stats….are you using yours to investigate usage and trends?  why not?

2007 – over 25 million eBook chapter downloads, the numbers for 2008 thus far are higher.  I’m seeing this in my eBook usage from various aggregators and publishers.

Handbooks had the highest number of downloads, textbooks were next in line, followed by reference works.  Most of my eBook collection is reference, so that gets the highest use, but I do have a ton of Springer titles, and stats show my users are finding the handbooks and textbooks.

The older eBooks were still used a lot, older defined as 2005 and 2006.

Springer confirmed a couple of things from the ebrary student and faculty eBook surveys:

  • students want more eBooks in their subject areas – yeah, who wouldn’t!
  • faculty prefer electronic material over print

How do you drive usage to your eBooks?  Discoverability is the key.

  • Are you cataloging ALL of your eBook titles with MARC records in the catalog?  The SuperBook Project from the University College of London confirmed that cataloged books get 2 times as much traffic as non-cataloged books.  Makes sense to me.
  • Do you have link resolvers in place to drive users from A & I services to the eBook titles?
  • Are the eBooks you own indexed in google?  According to Springer, 2/3 of their eBook visits came from google – that’s any part of google, not just scholar.  Check with your publishers and aggregators to see if they allow google to index the eBook metadata or fulltext.  And if they do….how are those users getting to the eBook via your library?

eBook usage internationally is big – I’m hearing this from most publishers.  Springer compared eBook usage to eJournal usage.  Internationally, Hong Kong and Munster had approximately 51% journal and 49% eBook usage but U.S. libraries had more of the 80/20 breakdown.

The webinar was hosted by Wouter vander Velde, eProduct Manager, eBooks, Springer

Wouter had a lovely powerpoint with the charts/stats available, but I haven’t heard from him if I can share that on the blog.  If you would like to see it, you could probably email him.

OverDrive now works with Zune

If you are one of the 8,500 libraries using the OverDrive Media Console for digital audiobooks, you now have a new feature – compatibility with Microsoft’s Zune.  Both DRM-free and DRM-protected (Digital Rights Management) audiobooks are compatible.  This now opens up the direct transfer of audiofiles to Zune, iPod, and virtually all other mp3 devices.

For the full story, check out OverDrive’s press release.

or, skip the full story and just download the Media Console.

Infobase to release eBook platform this Fall

Attention public, school, and community college libraries.

Infobase, publisher for Chelsea House, Facts on File, Ferguson, and Bloom’s Literary Criticism will release it’s own eBook platform this Fall.  However, titles will still be available from previously established interfaces.

Current titles and backlist titles will be available at launch (1800+) and forthcoming titles will also come in e version.

Looks like the business model is similar to GVRL – unlimited simultaneous access and an archival PDF copy of each title purchased.  Which, leads me to believe this will NOT be a subscription product.  No word yet on pricing.

I’m hoping to get a sneak peek at the interface in the next couple of weeks, so details on the interface bells and whistles to follow.

Duke University Press releases eBooks, and the price is right!

Super cool!  Duke University Press has just released their scholarly eBook collection.  The collection includes over 100 titles and is run on the ebrary platform.  If you are not familiar with ebrary, they are an eBook aggregator and offer institutions the opportunity to load their own material into the ebrary platform.  Clearly, Duke University Press has taken advantage of this option, which is the first I’ve seen.  The Duke content is not part of other ebrary collections, but can be cross searched with  titles libraries already own in ebrary.

Those who purchase the eBooks can also get access to 900 backlist titles, depending on which years they purchased the print.  And, for an extra $500.00 libraries will receive the cloth editions of all titles from a given year.

Duke was actually bold enough to post their pricing – way to go Duke!  And, it’s incredibly reasonable.  For the 100 title collection, prices range from $500 to $6000 depending on a library’s Carnegie classification.  So, if my math is right (which usually isn’t), that’s 100 titles for $5.00 each up to $60.00 each.  No, that’s not a typo, I didn’t misplace the decimal point!  I’d like to see those kind of prices for all my eBooks ;)

University Presses, jump on the ebrary wagon.  This is awesome.  Hey ebrary, will you work with independent publishers too?  If so, Kevin Sayer, then you’re truly a rock star!

A blog discussing the news and issues surrounding eBooks, for librarians and publishers.