18 March 2012

Library eBooks: Some things to know & think about

*Please excuse any cross postings
Some things to know about the Ebooks GMLC gets from Overdrive…

1.  The eBooks we get from Overdrive are Library Ebooks.
This means several things.  One is that we have purchased a license to the eBook to loan out to our patrons.  The publishers decide how that license & loan works (this can include issues surrounding the checkout, like being checked back in early, etc.) .  This is often referred to as DRM-Digital Rights Management.  Overdrive negotiates with the publishers and then the book is available for us to buy the license through Overdrive.

There are now all different kinds of licenses that have been negotiated.  The majority are the “one book, one checkout” type.  This means that per each license we own, a patron can check that out 1 loan period at a time…just like a book.  We also have the Harper Collins license of which we buy 26 checkouts at a time.  The Harry Potter books that are coming out are a “one book, one checkout” model however, the license expires in 5 years.  We may see new kinds of licensing in the future…it is difficult to tell right now.

2. Not all publishers will work with Overdrive.
Since the beginning Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group, and Macmillan Publishing have NEVER offered a Library eBook.  In the recent months, Penguin has pulled out from Overdrive and will no longer offer Library eBooks.  We have some Penguin titles grandfathered in, but transferring these to a Kindle can be an arduous process and these titles cannot be returned early.

3. The pricing for eBooks from Overdrive range from $ 9.00 to $ 100.00
There has just been a huge increase from Random House for Library eBooks, which has caused the Library eBook price range to jump considerably.  It is difficult to pinpoint what kinds of books command what kind of prices.  It has certainly made our purchasing process challenging.

4.  GMLC is always considering on the best way to build our eBook collection.
All the changes in the last few months have been challenging to say the least!  We have increased the amount of copies we buy to our Holds ratio for eBooks to 7 to 1.  However, we want to make sure our budget lasts through the year so we are continually monitoring it.  Also when it comes to popular fiction we have to think hard (just like you do for your print collection) what will happen if we buy 12 copies of the latest David Baldacci?  It will be popular and fly off the website the first months, but then will slowly become a less wanted title.  We try to be thoughtful about our purchases in terms of meeting demand and thinking of building a long term collection.

What can you do as a member of GMLC when it comes to Library eBooks?

1.  Please keep informed on the topic and help to educate your trustees, staff & patrons on how Library eBooks work.  We will try and keep you up to date through our blog and email list, but we highly recommend you subscribe to the Overdrive blog.  Also reading industry news on the topic of eBooks, and all eContent (downloadable audios, downloadable music, downloadable movies ) for libraries is very helpful.

2.  Please speak up to publishers.  Publishers control much of how our Library eBook process operates.  Right now it seems as if they do not value the library market very much.  We can advocate for our libraries and our patrons by communicating to publishers why reasonable access to eContent is important.

3.  Consider volunteering for GMLC.  We are able to put most of our money towards platform fees and content because so much of what we do is done by volunteers.  We imagine that over 60 volunteer hours a month are donated towards just the ListenUp! Vermont project.  Our other projects probably have over another 60 hours of volunteer time per month.

4.  Think about the future of eContent for your library and what that means.  GMLC always works to keep fees low, but an increase in demand for eBooks will mean an increase in costs.  Look at your budget and usage closely.  We now have a committee that is looking closely at the 3M Cloud project for eBooks.  We look forward to reporting to you on that.

5.  And as always, please keep us informed on your thoughts and suggestions.

Thank you!
Mary Danko & Judy Russell

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