US House floor using print reference

Yesterday I had a rare opportunity to walk on the US House floor, thanks to a private tour from my nephew Matt, who works for one of the Ohio Representatives.  As we were milling about, looking at the electronic voting, printers and fax machines, laptop plugins, and CSPAN cameras, I was shocked to see, sitting in the corner up front, a huge Random House dictionary on a big stand.  Of course I had to grab it, touch it, leaf through it.  I so desperately wanted to take a photo of this proud print resource, sitting atop its pedestal with the grand House floor in the background.  Despite the fact that I smuggled in my iPhone, Matt told me it was illegal to take photos.  So alas, my proof is missing.  ….gee, most people would want to sit in the big chair!

Once and Future e-book

The Once and Future e-book: On Reading in the Digital Age
A veteran of a former turning of the e-book wheel looks at the past, present, and future of reading books on things that are not books. -by John Siracusa, Apple Technology Specialist at Ars Technica.

John writes about the history of ebook devices, corporate mis-steps, outmoded business models, DRM, and the market vibe.   Technologically minded librarians will empathize with his frustrations.  Those who aren’t can get a quick background of the way tech, business, and customer interests interact and conflict.  Publishers will recognize the plea for new business models.  The post suggests that an immediate change in attutude and practice is needed or publisher’s will lose the moment’s opportunities.

ebrary Creating Patron Driven Purchasing Model

At the ALAMW Conference I sat in on a brainstorming session with ebrary folks and about 50 librarians.  The topic was patron driven/initiated purchasing models.  ebrary is in the beginning stages of creating a model and wanted to get feedback from librarians.  Some common themes that came up included:

budgets – librarians weary of budget control, who has the right to buy, how to budget, which budget, and what happens when we run out of money, is the service turned off?

access – when is the book purchased? first click, after 5/10 minutes?  how much “free” time does a user have to browse a title before they decide to access/pay for it? is it just one user or simultaneous, and how does price change that?

usage – what type of usage statistics will be available?  these will be important to analyze the cost effectiveness of this program.  can we get usage stats on printed pages? downloads? pages viewed? and, what consitutes a “usage” in terms of purchasing the ebook?

ILL – purchasing ebooks essentially means we no longer have ILL rights.  So, will ebrary work this model into consortial agreements or could ILL fees be instituted?

pay per view/rent-to-own – paying a smaller fee to use the ebook one time, two times, etc. If the book price is reached, the library would own it, if not, its a cheaper way to provide access to many more titles.  Librarians were concerned about spending money on intangible items and how to educate the auditors and penny pinchers about this new model.

Thanks to ebrary, I was able to get some comments from one of the moderators.

Allen McKiel, Dean of Library and Media Services at Western Oregon University summarized his thoughts on one of the ebrary Patron Driven Models sessions.  He said:

I heard librarians flirting with pay-per-view in a number of their comments as Leslie plied them with leading questions. The responses labored around a mixed subscription/pay-per-some-features model until patrons had encumbered a charge that was equal to the price of the book, in which case the library would then ‘own’ the book. Librarians find it hard to realize that e-books no longer require charging structures that are based in physical objects. The conversation from my hearing leaned toward resolution in a pay-per-view model. Five hands shot up when Leslie asked if anyone was interested in pay-per-view. Then he dropped the subject and never went back to it. I think librarians may finally be ready to talk about pay-per-view as a real option. Pay-per-view compliments research and educational environments. Discovery and learning are facilitated by access to information particularly information that is produced by the academy. Pay-per-view would optimize access and thereby facilitate research, the production of information, and learning. Publishers would provide an editorial selection role based in their being able to identify resources that researchers and students would find useful since they would receive compensation for their service proportional to use of their publications by faculty and students.

I think publishers have a window of opportunity to develop access to everything on a pay-per-view model that can evolve gradually using a mixed subscription/pay-per-view model. A variety of collections available through subscription/pay-per-view would permit reasonable access to a variety of academic institutions at affordable prices that would also permit reasonable profit margins for publishers. It would also permit publishers to experiment with models that would optimize their revenue while simultaneously optimizing access for all students and faculty. Library budgets that are driven more directly by faculty and student use would be more likely to increase than budgets dependent upon librarian requests.

Reference Publishers Debate Single Platform

On the Friday of the ALAMW Conference, the Independent Reference Publishers Group met for a panel presentation/discussion on using one single platform to host all reference content.  It was an interesting discussion.  I’ve summarized the panel in my notes below.

Independent Reference Publishers Group Meeting

Friday, January 23, 2009

Representatives from the following organizations were in attendance: Choice, CQ Press, Omnigraphics, Sharpe, ifactory, Sage, Salem, Neal Schumann, ABC-CLIO, Rosen, Credo Reference, Serials Solutions, NISO, Booklist, CHOICE, Wright State University.

The theme of this meeting and panel discussion was instituting a single platform for electronic reference content. Sue Polanka from WSU started things off with her wish list and each publisher had a chance to respond.

Sue Polanka – Wright State University

One day I’d like to purchase/license all of my reference content, regardless of publisher, and load it on the platform of my choice for the best cross searching available. This platform could be an existing one, like GVRL, Credo, ebrary, EBL, NetLibrary, etc. or some shareware, something developed by libraries. Benefits to patrons and librarians include: Greater access, more content, single search interface for ease of use and discoverabilty, easy to implement in library instruction and on web sites. These systems need to have unlimited simultaneous use, 24/7 access, with no DRM or other restrictions on downloading or printing, the most multimedia available during today’s expensive economic times and an actual ebook price, up front, would be appreciated.

Todd Carpenter – NISO

One platform has barriers to interoperability and they are bigger than technological, as in political and economic. [barriers shouldn’t prevent us from trying to do this. IRPG would be a good venue to discuss this. Seems like publishers would want to do this for reasons of – more exposure, and less cost of producing pricey interfaces – has anyone ever heard of epub or the IDPF? SP]

Peter McCracken – Serials Solutions

Federated products are often a starting point for research and therefore have an opportunity to have a reference role. The current design doesn’t work best for the patron since they get mostly articles. Somehow relevance needs to be a factor to assign tags to reference and get them to the top. We need to use field mapping more effectively. [I prefer a pre-indexed approach since federated products tend to be slow. Publishers/aggregators should take advantage of all metadata and tag reference items appropriately. If federated products are used, the reference content should be faceted as “overview material” or “background information.” SP]

Rolf Janke – Sage Reference

Publishers still have an infrastructure that supports print publishing.  The infrastructure is a difficult component to downsize in favor of doing more digital publishing. Print is a one size fits all model yet e publishing is not so, publishers have a multitude of business models, interfaces, features, etc.  The concept of a one size fits all platform for all publishers content is way ahead of its time, publishers currently could never agree on a standard business model. Pricing standards could help, but are not likely. [Gee, these must be the political and economic barriers that Todd was referring to? Looks like publishers could learn about collaboration from libraries. SP]

Ron Boehm – ABC-CLIO

Publishers need to invest in new things while maintaining our print production, which is expensive for publishers, particularly in these bad economic times. Right now we need to do both [e and p] or we would lose half of our business. The best strategy for ebooks is to have unlimited access. Ron supports the idea of publishers working with multiple aggregators or distributors to have reference content available in a multitude of platforms, but doesn’t recommend the libraries/consortia maintain their own platform. [Ditto on unlimited access and multiple aggregators. OhioLINK has been maintaining its own platforms for years. It’s a great system when you want to make enhancements and don’t have to wait on other companies or the majority of users to agree. SP]

ALA’s Dartmouth Award Finally Goes to an Electronic Source

For the first time in history, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Dartmouth Award, designating outstanding quality and significance to a reference source, was given to an electronic resource.  Greenwood’s Pop Culture Universe, was the 2009 recipient. The Committee selected Pop Culture Universe because it compiles over 300 sources of pop culture information into a fun, user-oriented platform complete with a blog; in essence, Pop Culture Universe signifies the future of reference.  And, as you would expect from a forward thinking reference publisher, they’ve already got a press release on the blog of PCU!

More on the Dartmouth Award from the ALA site:

Established in 1974, this medal honors the creation of a reference work of outstanding quality and significance, including, but not limited to: writing, compiling, editing, or publishing books or electronic information. The award is given to works that have been published or made available for the first time during the calendar year preceding the presentation of the award. Dartmouth Medal Honorable Mention certificates may also be presented.

Dartmouth College established sponsorship of the award in 1974 upon the suggestion of Dean Lathem, Dartmouth College librarian. Dartmouth College commissioned the internationally celebrated graphic artist Rudolph Ruzicka to design the bronze medal. Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, who presided not only over the arts and sciences, but over all intellectual aspects of human life, is featured against a filigree of olive branches.

Cleveland Public Library offers EPUB

CLEVELAND, OH, Jan 15 (MARKET WIRE) —
Cleveland Public Library (http://emedia.clevnet.org) today became the
first public library to offer eBook downloads in the industry standard
EPUB format. Readers at both Cleveland Public Library and CLEVNET member
libraries can check out and download EPUB eBooks from the library’s
download website. The EPUB files are optimized for the Sony(R) Reader and
can also be read on a PC or Mac(R) with free Adobe(R) Digital Editions
software. More than 8,500 libraries powered by OverDrive
(www.overdrive.com) will soon be able to offer eBooks in the EPUB format,
along with more than 150,000 titles in audiobook, eBook, music, and video
formats, many of which are compatible with both Mac and iPod(R).

Patron-defined lending periods will also be available for the first time
today at http://emedia.clevnet.org. The new feature allows libraries to
offer a variety of borrowing options, such as 7, 14, or 21 day lending
periods. Fast readers can now select a shorter checkout time, allowing
them to borrow more titles from their library. Patron-defined lending
periods, EPUB eBooks, and other upcoming enhancements will be
demonstrated at the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting 2009
(http://www.ala.org/ala/conferencesevents/upcoming/midwinter/home.cfm) on
Jan. 23-26 (Booth #2042).

EPUB is a reflowable, XML-based format for eBooks and other digital
publications developed by the International Digital Publishing Forum
(www.idpf.org) and adopted by leading publishers and technology firms as
the industry standard for eBooks. OverDrive, an IDPF member company, is
the only library download service that supports EPUB and integrates the
format into a single platform for delivering digital audiobooks, eBooks,
music, and video to library customers. More information on the EPUB
format is available at

http://overdrive.com/resources/mediaformats/eBooks.asp.

“EPUB eBooks are enhanced for mobile reading with reflowable text to fit
any screen and are compatible with the Sony Reader,” said David Burleigh,
director of marketing for OverDrive. “Major publishers such as Hachette
Book Group USA, Random House, and HarperCollins offer eBooks to libraries
in this emerging standard format, so library customers will be able to
enjoy award-winning and best-selling EPUB eBooks with just their library
card and an Internet-connected computer.”

“Introducing the EPUB format in the library market will enhance the eBook
experience for library patrons, as well as accelerate the wide-spread
adoption of this standard for digital reflowable text,” said Michael
Smith, executive director of the IDPF. “More publishers are utilizing
EPUB as they digitize front and backlist titles to provide a greater
selection for digital library patrons.”

OverDrive distributes thousands of EPUB eBooks from top publishers. EPUB
eBooks by James Patterson, Stephenie Meyer, David Sedaris, Janet
Evanovich, Elmore Leonard, Lisa Kleypas, and Brad Meltzer will soon be
available to libraries powered by OverDrive. Popular and best-selling
EPUB titles will also be available, including “Dewey: The Small Town
Library Cat,” “Things I’ve Learned from Women Who’ve Dumped Me,”
“Twilight: The Complete Illustrated Movie Companion,” and “Gossip Girl.”

All EPUB eBook downloads from the OverDrive-powered library download
website are borrowed just like a print book. A library customer can browse
a library’s digital catalog for titles, check out a title with a library
card, and download the eBook to his or her home computer. The titles can
be transferred from the library customer’s home computer to a Sony Reader
PRS-505 (with proper firmware installed) or PRS-700 using the Adobe
Digital Editions software. At the end of the lending period, the file
automatically expires and Adobe Digital Editions prompts the user to
delete the title from his or her computer.

OverDrive powers download media catalogs at thousands of libraries
worldwide, including institutions in New York, Singapore, Boston, and
Toronto. To see if your library is a member of the OverDrive network,
visit http://search.overdrive.com. OverDrive also operates the Digital
Bookmobile (www.digitalbookmobile.com), a high-tech 18-wheeler that
travels coast-to-coast raising awareness about free library downloads.

About OverDrive

OverDrive is a leading full-service digital distributor of eBooks,
audiobooks, music, and video. We deliver secure management, DRM
protection, and download fulfillment services for hundreds of publishers
and thousands of libraries, schools, and retailers serving millions of
end users. Founded in 1986, OverDrive is based in Cleveland, OH.
www.overdrive.com

Contact:
David Burleigh
OverDrive, Inc.
216-573-6886 x218
Email Contact

NetLibrary titles now available on Sony Reader

Sony teams with NetLibrary to offer digital editions and Readers
By Paul Biba

Sony is continuing to market its reader to more and more outlets. That’s only good for e-books as a whole.

In addition to the deal with Harlequin, Sony just announced a collaboration with NetLibrary:

images.jpgThe program includes a Reader model PRS-505, a collection of titles from leading publishers and all required licenses. Using the library’s PC, librarians can download a mobile collection title or titles from the NetLibrary site to the Reader as necessary.

Libraries that purchase Mobile Collections will be able to offer their patrons the ability to check out Readers for onsite or offsite use, depending on the policy established by each library. Collections, selected by NetLibrary’s collections librarian, include Career Development and Business Self Help (30 titles), Management and Leadership (22 titles), Popular Fiction (29 titles), Romance (19 titles) and Young Adult Fiction (24 titles).

Circulating Reader units through OCLC’s newly established program is just one way libraries are able to offer eBooks to their communities and expose people to electronic reading. Thousands of public libraries in the United States already offer online collections that patrons can borrow, typically for two to three weeks. eBooks are offered in the Adobe PDF format and it is expected that the recently established EPUB format will become common.

November e-book sales up 108%

The rise of e-books: IDPF reports November e-book sales up 108 percent—and here’s some analysis
By Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords

image Mark Coker is founder of Smashwords and Dovetail Public Relations, as well as moderator of a February 10 panel at Tools of Change on “The Rise of E-Book.” See a San Jose Mercury News Q & A on Smashwords (a publisher for independent writers), which recently signed a Stanza-related distribution deal. – D.R.

The IDPF says e-book sales were up 108 percent for the month of November 2008 compared to the same period a year ago. The data is provided in conjunction with surveys conducted by the American Association of Publishers, and represents wholesale sales from only 13 U.S.-based e-book publishers, so total reported sales figures understate actual sales.

imageFor the first eleven months of 2008, e-book sales were up about 64 percent, according to the IDPF.

Dig beneath the surface, and the numbers are striking. E-book sales are surging while the entire trade book industry suffers a decline. Are print sales suffering at the hands of e-book sales? Unlikely. Something else is happening.

For the five years between 2002 and 2007 (click here for data; opens a PDF), overall trade book sales averaged an annual increase of 2.5 percent. That’s lower than inflation, which means unit sales probably decreased.

By contrast, e-books for the same period turned in a 55.7 percent average annualized increase in sales revenue.

Tiny base—but still an accelerating growth rate

Granted, the robust sales growth for e-books was off of a tiny base to begin with. But fast forward to October of 2008, the date for which year-to-date sales are reported on the AAP web site , and you see overall trade book sales for the first 9 months of the year were down 3.4 percent while e-book sales were up about 58 percent. So the rate of e-book sales accelerated during the first 9 months of 2008 compared to the previous five years.

More interesting, for the month of October the AAP reported overall trade book sales suffered a 20 percent drop in the year over year monthly comparison, while e-book sales accelerated to 73 percent growth.

Numbers for November and December aren’t yet published on the AAP site, though today’s numbers from the IDPF, which are supplied by the AAP, indicated that e-book sales have accelerated yet again, up 108 percent for November.

As any numbers guy or gal will tell you, it’s easy to show great sales growth when you’re growing off of a small base. But when sales show sequential acceleration off of sequentially increasing bases (meaning, you grow faster as you grow larger), then something really interesting is taking place.

If we conservatively estimate that overall trade sales for 2008 declined 3 percent, and e-books sales increased 70 percent, then wholesale e-book sales will rise to $114 million and overall trade book sales will decline to $24.21 billion. In other words, e-books will still only represent 1/2 of 1 percent of book industry sales, at least here in the US.

If you extrapolate the 70 percent growth for five more years (and I would argue that 70 percent is a relatively conservative number), then e-books rise to $1.6 billion, and assuming a 2 percent growth rate of the overall trade book sales to $26.7 billion (generous), e-books would then represent a respectable 6 percent of sales.

If you’re attending the Tools of Change conference February 9-11, I invite you to attend a panel I’m moderating entitled, “The Rise of E-Books,” where we’ll explore the past, present and future of e-books and try to understand the implications of these numbers for publishers and authors alike.

In the meantime, if you’re an author, you need to start exposing your books to the digital realm. Clearly, as the numbers above indicate, you should continue to publish in print because e-book sales will account for only a small percentage of your overall sales. In the years ahead, however, e-books will become an increasingly important format for book consumption.

Sony Teams with NetLibrary to offer digital editions and Readers

From www.teleread.org

Sony teams with NetLibrary to offer digital editions and Readers
By Paul Biba

Sony is continuing to market its reader to more and more outlets. That’s only good for e-books as a whole.

In addition to the deal with Harlequin, Sony just announced a collaboration with NetLibrary:

images.jpgThe program includes a Reader model PRS-505, a collection of titles from leading publishers and all required licenses. Using the library’s PC, librarians can download a mobile collection title or titles from the NetLibrary site to the Reader as necessary.

Libraries that purchase Mobile Collections will be able to offer their patrons the ability to check out Readers for onsite or offsite use, depending on the policy established by each library. Collections, selected by NetLibrary’s collections librarian, include Career Development and Business Self Help (30 titles), Management and Leadership (22 titles), Popular Fiction (29 titles), Romance (19 titles) and Young Adult Fiction (24 titles).

Circulating Reader units through OCLC’s newly established program is just one way libraries are able to offer eBooks to their communities and expose people to electronic reading. Thousands of public libraries in the United States already offer online collections that patrons can borrow, typically for two to three weeks. eBooks are offered in the Adobe PDF format and it is expected that the recently established EPUB format will become common.

Read an E-Book Week March 8 – 14

Read An E-Book Week Read an E-Book Week (March 8 – 14) is fast approaching. In preparation for the big event this year we have completely redone our website – http://www.ebookweek.comThis year we welcome several new supporters – Tor.com, Sony, world-renowned author, Warren Adler, and E Ink to name a few.

Mr. Adler has provided an interesting article for our home page and two well-known guest writers are working on articles about the future of e-books for the website.

Help us celebrate Read an E-Book Week. Let us know what your library or organization has planned for the event and we’ll include you on our Partners page. Perhaps it will be a challenge read, or someone will staff a learn-how-to-download-e-books station to help newbie users.

If you would like a banner for your website they are available for downloading at: http://www.ebookweek.com/ebook_banners.html Feel free to resize them to fit your needs.

Rita Toews

Founder – Read an E-Book Week

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