The Big Six – where we stand at the moment

I’m headed to BEA next week (I’m on the conference advisory board for the BEA Bloggers part of the conference), and will have a good three days of listening to publishers talk about ebooks (and hopefully libraries).

So I thought it would be a good idea to see where we stand right now with ebooks, the Big Six, and some of our current ebook vendors.

Here’s a list of the major ebook vendors, and what they offer in relation to the Big Six publishers:

3M, Baker & Taylor Axis 360:

  • Hachette
  • Simon & Schuster (but only if you’re a large NYC-area library – they’re still in pilot project mode)
  • Macmillan
  • Penguin
  • HarperCollins
  • Random House
  • … and No Kindle formats.

OverDrive:

  • Hachette
  • Macmillan
  • HarperCollins
  • Random House
  • doesn’t have Penguin or Simon & Schuster
  • … OverDrive has Kindle versions of some titles (and that’s probably why they don’t have Penguin).

What does each publisher offer?

  • Hachette: Full catalog, released simultaneously with print, ebooks will cost 300% more than the print book. Unlimited number of checkouts, one copy per user model.
  • Simon & Schuster: started a 1-year pilot project on April 30 with New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, and the Queens Library. Full catalog, a one year purchase/lease, unlimited checkouts, one copy per user model.
  • Macmillan: 1,200 backlist ebooks from its Minotaur Books imprint. Two year, 52-lends lease model. Ebooks cost $25. I’d say they’re still in pilot project mode too.
  • Random House: Our ebook friends, for a price – entire catalogue available for “perpetual access” at a higher price to libraries (upwards of 300% over the print book cost).
  • Penguin: all titles available, one-year licenses. Except if you’re OverDrive.
  • HarperCollins: 26 checkouts per title lease model.

So – at this point, we have all Big Six publishers willing and able to sell [at least some] ebooks to [at least some] libraries. With wildly varying models and price points:

  • Checkout models include: unlimited use, 26 checkouts per book, or 52 checkouts per book.
  • Time limits include: No year limits, one year limits, and two year limits per book
  • Title availability includes: All titles available, some titles available, hardly any title available.
  • Pricing: an even $25, a variety of more normal pricing. And two publishers who markup ebooks by 300%. If this was gasoline, we’d call it price gouging.

Pic by pazca

Greatest Hits from Pew Internet’s Library Research – from ALAMW13

One more set of sketchy notes from ALAMW13 – this time from Lee Rainie, director, Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project @lrainielibraries.pewinternet.org

Pew has done three phases of research on libraries:

  • econtent
  • library services
  • library user segmentation typology – essentially market research for libraries. Nice.

Phase 1: econtent

  • Ebooks are being read more. 16% in 2011, 23% in 2012. At the same time, reading of printed books is declining a bit – 72% in 2011, 67% in 2012.
  • 40% of Americans have either a tablet or an ebook reader. 31% have a tablet, 26% have an ebook reader
  • Readers of ebooks: currently under age 50, college educated, making 50k+, and love reading. They buy their ebooks.
  • Approximately 50% of American adults own smartphones.
  • Ebook borrowing – late 2012, a whopping 5% of Americans 16+ have borrowed ebooks from libraries in the last year.
  • Growing awareness of this service – 31% of the public
  • Yet, 57% don’t know whether this is a service they can use, including many library users.
  • Problems with borrowing process include:
    • not compatible with an ereader
    • there was a waiting list
  • Over 50% are open to library coaching/tech support with ebooks.

Phase 2: library services

  • Mega takeaway #1: people love their libraries even more for what they say about their communities than for how libraries meet personal needs
    • 91% say libraries are important to their communities
    • 6% say libraries are important to them and their families
    • People appreciate their librarians
  • Mega takeaway #2: libraries have rebranded themselves as tech hubs
    • 77% say free access to computers and the Internet is a very important service
  • Mega takeaway #3: the public wants everything equally, so library leadership will matter in setting priorities
    • African-Americans and Latinos are especially enthusiastic about library services.
  • Mega takeaway #4: the public invites you to be more Engard in knotty problems.
    • Things like involvement in iocal schools, literacy in the community, comfortable spaces, move most library services online, etc. cool.
    • Lib services online – 42% should definitely do, 34% should maybe do. Wow. That’s 76% of people wanting the library to do a whole lot more online. As in most library services. Think about that for a minute… Definitely a blog post here!
  • Mega takeaway #5: libraries have a PR problem / opportunity.
  • Mega takeaway #6 – target audiences for engagement outreach are not hard to ID
    • And there’s a large chunk of the population that simply doesn’t use the library or read books.

image by Elon University

ALA, Ebooks & Libraries: Where do we Stand & Where are we Going?

This was a presentation/panel discussion I attended at ALA Midwinter 2013 (#alamw13). Interesting stuff! Here are some notes (not comprehensive):

Panelists included:

  • Jamie LaRue, Douglas County Libraries
  • Alan Inouye, ALA OITP
  • Matt Tempelis, 3M
  • Robert Wolven
  • George Coe, Baker & Taylor
  • Sari Feldman

First, there was a short presentation on the status of ALA’s initiatives around ebooks:

ALA has been reaching out directly to publishers by holding a couple of meetings with publishers, distributors, and author reps.

ALA has created a couple of ebook-related documents, including:

  • Business models for ebooks – Mainly working on business models for public libraries
  • Business model scorecard
    • Mechanism for evaluating publisher models
    • Describes aspects like price, accessibility, available content, limited circulation
    • Scale for ranking each aspect
    • Different weighting of aspects by libraries
    • They’re also looking at models for school libraries and accessibility needs

Business models: what’s next?

  • Testing the scorecard – weighting features
  • Reports on school libraries, accessibility
  • Critique of pry-per-use models
  • Beyond the big 6: mid size, independents, self publishing

Further out

  • Impact of new consumer models
  • Other formats – video, music, news
  • New forms of publications – serial, integrative, dynamic

Thinking about future directions

  • Outside the library community
  • looking at better licensing terms for the big publishers and distributors
  • also improved technical specs and operational systems
  • Smaller and mid sized publishers – pursue aggressively how to get widespread library ebook access
  • self publishing – how to engage libraries
  • cutting edge tech more generally – how could/should libraries engage in the context of ebooks (ie, maker spaces, etc)

Within the library community

  • Systems to enable libraries to manage ebooks directly
  • Libraries as publishers or distributors
  • Re-invisioning the role of book lending in the digital era

Who will do all this?

  • who are the players
  • Strengths and weaknesses of the players
  • Who should do what and by when
  • Who will pay for it
  • Where is ala best situated

And now the panel: Jamie LaRue, Matt Tempelis, George Coe

George Coe – thinks a one book, simultaneous access model simply won’t work. I’d disagree with that

thinks we’ll see rental models

Jamie – go directly to authors, instead of through the distributor or the publisher

Matt at 3M says they don’t have a good working model yet that they feel comfortable with.

They want 3-4 models …

Jamie disagrees. Because the fundamental distribution model is wrong.

Self published and emerging stories – dont show up in libraries, even though they are best sellers

Moving from a consumer community to a content creator community. How do you discover this, sample this, collect and share it, etc. how do we get to the heart of that and participate

What should libraries be doing more of

Jamie – less talking more action

Where does local news come form if there’s no newspaper? It could be the library…

Find new ways to add value

Jamie – how do you display digital content? Because displaying books moves books

Ownership?

Jamie. – yes, we need ownership.

Leasing model -ok with high-traffic items. So you don’t have too keep 100 copies forever, because we can’t sell these ebooks on secondary markets after the fact

Matt – says if we had a ton of money,  someone needs to prove that libraries help well books. Um, I think pew and others have already proved that. He didn’t think they proved it enough…

Jamie – recommends creating your own infrastructure. Maybe we can put that million dollars to work at an organization who can do this for us. Rather than having individual libraries creating their own system.

Need some sort of acquisition system. Another infrastructure thing needs to be built for this.

Q & A time:

Jamie’s catalog has a button that says “do you want to be a writer” with resources, and an ask for the book at the end. It’s a way to help authors and get local content

Relaunching Ebooks for Libraries website

My library created EbooksforLibraries.com earlier this year as an online petition to the Big Six publishers (read more here, here, and here).

We finished phase one of our project, so we sat back and thought … “hmm. What should we do with ebooksforlibraries next?”

Watch the video in this post to find out the answer to that! And then go visit our first post on the relaunched ebooksforlibraries website (and make sure to subscribe, too).

Our goal is pretty simple. There are a lot of really great blogs and news sites devoted to ebooks and the publishing industry, and we don’t want to try to mimic those. But as we’ve been following those sites, and all the many stories surrounding ebooks and libraries, we realized something: no one’s telling libraries what any of these changes actually MEAN for libraries. No one’s saying “great – big-name publisher #1 says you own your ebook files. What changes tomorrow for our public library because of that announcement? What’s that mean next week, or even next year”

So our goal is to try and answer those practical questions surrounding ebooks for libraries.

Fingers crossed!

Help out the Gates Foundation

Gates FoundationSomeone asked me to share this, and it seems like a good thing, so …

“The Gates Foundation’s Global Libraries Initiative is currently exploring ways to supplement their current support of public libraries in ways that foster innovation and dramatically accelerate positive and lasting change in libraries throughout the U.S. and around the world. The following survey is a tool that the Global Libraries Initiative is using to gather thoughts and ideas about how libraries can best serve their communities in a future where ebooks and ubiquitous digital content is the norm.

Please consider taking a few minutes and filling out the survey to help the Foundation with its future planning!”