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The E-Book Conundrum: They Don't Know How to Sell the Stuff, and We Don't Know How to Buy it! Anne Douglas Colin Storey Emerging Paradigms for Academic.

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Presentation on theme: "The E-Book Conundrum: They Don't Know How to Sell the Stuff, and We Don't Know How to Buy it! Anne Douglas Colin Storey Emerging Paradigms for Academic."— Presentation transcript:

1 The E-Book Conundrum: They Don't Know How to Sell the Stuff, and We Don't Know How to Buy it! Anne Douglas Colin Storey Emerging Paradigms for Academic Library E-Book Acquisition and Use: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities Conference. 3 June 2008 Cho Yiu Conference Hall, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

2 The ERALL Project Funded by the Hong Kong University Grants Committee (UGC) A consortial purchase for all 8 member libraries under UGC ‘deep collaboration’ initiative. Aims of the project are to: –Go to vendors now while the market is embryonic –Have full ownership of e-titles –Secure perpetual access –Buy English language ebooks –Secure multiple user access for all 8 libraries –Gain access to single copies for all libraries –Buy the maximum number of relevant books for the lowest cost All 8 libraries participated in the selection of products and vendors

3 Four Key Factors in Purchasing ebooks 1. HOW MUCH? 2. WHAT? (to Purchase) 3. FROM WHOM? 4. HOW?

4 1. HOW MUCH? Best price Variety of sellers - the vendor’s own branch offices, the publisher, the publisher’s own branch offices - all with offers to sell the same ebook at a different price If an aggregator’s price for its product is the same no matter which of its divisions or vendors offers the product, what’s in it for the middlemen? How do they make a profit? Do we librarians care? Yes, we do, if that margin is included in the price of the product!

5 2. WHAT (to Purchase)? Some publishers have embargo periods (eg World Scientific ebooks – 6 month embargo) For some publishers publication of their ebooks is often well behind their print equivalents Difficult to get some publishers to release their front lists Publishers misquote on the number of ebooks they will publish –say they will be able to offer a certain number of titles and then can’t –say which imprints they expect to publish ebooks under, but then can’t deliver

6 3. FROM WHOM? How do libraries establish who is selling what? –who is selling a publisher’s ebooks –the publisher? –the publisher’s regional offices? –vendors? –aggregators? –who is selling the aggregator’s products –different vendors? eg. MyiLibrary, Swets, Kompass –different divisions within the aggregator’s company? eg. MyiLibrary, Coutts

7 3. FROM WHOM? Rumours swirl around the marketplace –Vendors think they hear or misinterpret that a competitor is offering a deal - for example one single copy for multiple access from publisher x. They think the competitor must have checked with the publisher, so they offer the same deal without checking with the publisher. Is a pattern emerging? –Publishers first release their products through vendors or aggregators. When they establish there is a market they then undercut these same vendors and aggregators, and offer a better price and an exclusive title list.

8 4 (a) HOW? Purchasing Model Required by JULAC Consortial acquisition Perpetual access Single copy for multiple user access Multiple copy –consortium required to buy multiple copies based on number of FTE by the publisher –consortium purchased multiple copies based on need or demand Reference material –purchased with perpetual access with the option of purchasing annual updates based on FTE’s Titles either bundled or selected

9 4 (b) HOW? Purchasing Models Offered by Vendors JULAC offered many different purchasing models –little standardization of models across the industry –very time consuming aggregating all the data in each offer so as to compare offers. Different prices for different size libraries within the consortium –libraries classified by size, different discount offered to each size of library. Different prices for libraries within the consortium who subscribe to other products offered by the same vendor/publisher –reduced platform fees if a library subscribes to other products offered by the same vendor/publisher

10 4 (b) HOW? Purchasing Models Offered by Vendors Multi user access –Some publishers require a consortium to purchase a defined number of multiple copies with multi user access –For those publishers who do not allow single copy access for multiple users, there can be complicated formulas to determine how many copies a consortium must purchase. Single copy –Some publishers allow single copy purchase with multi user access by consortia. –Some publishers do not allow a consortium to purchase a single copy. –Some publishers limit concurrent user access (Eg. 1 title, 1 user) Content to be purchased as a collection or 'bundle' or on a title by title basis? –Depends on the publisher or aggregator.

11 CHALLENGES TO JULAC’S MODEL 1: Perpetual Access JULAC libraries want perpetual access and ownership of their ebooks no standardization in the market on perpetual access –Some key publishers and aggregators do not offer their ebooks with perpetual access eg. Cambridge University Press, ‘Books 24x7’ (clearly not, ‘Books 24/7/to infinity and beyond’!) Escrow arrangements vary across vendors/publishers –Content downloaded to a third party –If publisher ceased content could be downloaded to libraries own server –What guarantees do libraries have with escrow arrangements? With a print book you have it in your hand; with an electronic book you are relying on third parties to maintain access to the book.

12 CHALLENGES TO JULAC’S MODEL 2: Platforms Platform maturity –Some publishers own platforms have not yet reached a level of maturity for a consortium’s needs. Users –User familiarity –We don’t want our users to have to learn how to use multiple platforms. For ebooks, the fewer the platforms, the better for the user Separate platforms –Some publishers/ vendors do not allow integration of individual libraries ebooks collections and the collections purchased by the consortium from that publisher (Eg ECHO) Pricing –Some publishers allow access to their e-books only on one platform, while others allow access to a number of different platforms with different pricing models.

13 Five Major Strategies for Future JULAC Acquisition 1.Escrow JULAC libraries still want perpetual access and total ownership of their ebooks Mirror site on the JULAC’s own server, not reliant on the publisher or vendor or a third party We need to press for an industry standard for escrow arrangements for ebooks,

14 Five Major Strategies for Future JULAC Acquisition 2. Purchasing Models As a consortium, leverage significant dollar amounts to procure deals to enable us to achieve the best price for each ebook Decide how as a consortium we can purchase ebooks to meet the needs of all our libraries, while still enabling libraries to collect within their collection strengths Purchase one copy of each ebook for multi-user access as the archival copy of text for JULAC- EJURA Purchase from aggregators and publishers as publishers will continue to offer unique titles available only through them Purchase from world-class academic booksellers, and use some of the old standards of purchasing, including approval plans etc. Secure the option to buy titles as bundles and as selected titles

15 Five Major Strategies for Future JULAC Acquisition 3.Price Price is a key factor in selection of titles and products We do not want to have to pay inflated prices for ebooks, we want to pay a reasonable price for each book comparatively based on the print price We do not want to have pay for multiple access to titles, we want single copy access for multi user access.

16 Five Major Strategies for Future JULAC Acquisition 4. Content We want to be able to purchase front list and back list titles We want publishers to review their policies on ebooks, drop embargoes, publish ebooks from all their imprints and publish all books as ebooks We do not want restrictions such as the “single user model”. They are counterintuitive to the librarians' desire to increase access.

17 Five Major Strategies for Future JULAC Acquisition 5. Online Selection of ebooks by Library Readers (‘Purchase on Demand’ – PoD) Different publishers/vendors/ aggregators have different definitions of PoD, there either needs to be an industry standard or libraries need to clearly state their understanding of PoD to vendors. PoD would need to be used in conjunction with a library’s selection model - ie users, faculty and librarians select titles At any rate, engage faculty and students in ebook selection

18 Conclusion The Publishers, Vendors and Aggregators may still not know how to sell ebooks, but we in JULAC now surely know how to buy them! To paraphrase Macbeth: “Confusion now will make his masterpiece!”

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