Finding a viable e-book licensing model for libraries was the dominant strand of last Thursday’s lively #followreader chat about Libraries and e-Books on Twitter – despite strident talk the day before that e-books would bring about the demise of libraries.
The conversation also turned to DRM, e-book usability issues for librarians, and the role of the ALA in negotiating with library vendors – with more than 50 people weighing in on all sides of the issues.
It was great to see some of our publishing insider regulars – like @BenRubinstein and Ruth Liebmann (@yrstrulyREL), who work in library marketing at Macmillan and Random House respectively – join a slew of librarians drawn into the fray by our guest, blogger and tech activist Bobbi Newman (@librarianbyday).
Here’s a recap of the chat highlights:
Pay-Per-Circulation E-Book Licensing
@BenRubinstein: How could one ebook/multiple loans make pubs $$? Free upfront, then pay per loan?
@librarianbyday:Library budgets cant support pay per circ & WHY should pubs get $ each time book is read?
@buffyjhamilton: Example: we circulated Ellen Hopkins Tricks 45x in past year-would not be cost eff. to pay each time circ
@eBookNoir: One model that many libraries are using is patron driven approach: don’t pay for title until x amount of loans
@eBookNoir: In acad with vendors, consider that pubs charge 120% – 170% of list price for access, depends on platform
@libraryladyjane: The whole “pay per play” idea is totally contrary to the spirit/ purpose of public libraries.
@jlbooth: We don’t give Jane Austen $ when someone checks out Pride & Prejudice!
@BenRubinstein: $10/purchase or $0.50/loan changes nothing of spirit, just a business model.
@wawoodworth: Considering libraries in the US started as subscription only, pay for play is in our past.
Or Based on Average Circulation?
@DJ345: What about an e-book license that is based on lib size/avg. circulation figures?
@BenRubinstein: Don’t know why no one thought of that. Huge city libs pay bigger license fee, then can loan unlimited
@buffyjhamilton: That is a good thought—sort of like how we do our databases/ebooks via databases now
@eBookNoir: Most licenses are just from vendor saying what you can/can’t do. Databases are more concerned w/ size
@eBookNoir: Although some pubs do charge more for a larger fte for their eBooks, keep that in mind
@librarianbyday: But it could cause an issue if you allow reciprocal or paid cards
@charabbott: What about issue of remote e-book downloads undermining libraries by reducing traffic to the building?
@eBookNoir: Well, they still have to utilize the library to do so if they are getting the eBooks from there
@wawoodworth: Usage is still usage, no matter where it is happening.
@charabbott: Yes, but library budget comes out of local taxes!
@eBookNoir: Correct, but if your city say has a citywide ip range, you could authenticate that way.
Or Staged Release for Library E-Books?
@Figmentfiction: How about maintaining a significant delay between ebook release and ebook library circulation?
@librarianbyday: It wouldnt work, any delay in availability will lead to piracy and deceased sales
@BenRubinstein: Don’t think staggering release is the best option. Shouldn’t punish because of favored medium
What about DRM?
@buffyjhamilton: I’d be willing to pay a little more upfront for ebook if I had more latitude in DRM.
@librarianbyday: DRM either needs to go away or get less complicated, if its not easy people wont use it, they’ll download pirated
@BookSwim: DRM significantly curbs casual piracy and reduces the time it takes for a DRM cracked file to be distributed
@TheLiB: The flaw w/ ebooks DRM, as with all DRM, is that it dies not stop pirates, only stymies & frustrates normal honest folks.
@mrgunn: I totally disagree. I think it’s the ebook DRM that’s killing the potential market by devaluing access.
@TheLiB: I think w/o new ebook DRM, licensing, & copyright, library ebooks will exist only in our communities’ margins.
@hmccormack: DRM won’t go away unless publishers banish it; they’re losing $ on print, so they’re not going to leave e profits unguarded
@hmccormack: Focusing on DRM is pointless; libs better off showing what good customers they are so win better sales model
Negotiating E-Book Licenses
@DJ345:Libraries need to support ebook vendors in negotiation of rights
@TheLiB: ALA should help libraries step up in the US market to the ebooks vendors. Its not OCLCs role imho
@wawoodworth: At the rate ALA is advocating for libraries, I don’t think we need their help with the ebook market =P
@wawoodworth: Now, so far as banding together, libraries would need do so at the state/region level, to leverage buying power.
@hmccormack: Publishers would be smart to use libraries as test for ebook tech & libraries would be wise to partner.
E-Book Usability Issues for Librarians
@TheLiB: The issue of different ebooks platforms in libraries USA a -huge- barrier to usability.
@jdscott50: The reader software and transfer process is the biggest weakness for ebooks in libraries
@buffyjhamilton: for HS lib, I need lower pricepoint on hardware/ereaders – agree; Readers must reach $50 range
@jdscott50: Introduce tech and people need help. Librarians are pulling their hair out helping with ebooks
@librarianbyday: Adding all these ebooks is a prob when a % of our patrons can not use them – no pc &/or internet at home, no way to use in lib