30 September 2013

Digital Lending Models

Working Toward a Fair Digital Lending Model

To add food for thought and hopefully stimulate dialogue that will produce the fairest digital lending model, here are two models that are currently being tried out. One is Oyster, the Netflix-like plan, that I mentioned in last week's blog.

In Sweden, a model of e-book lending has been established whereby publishers receive a payment for each library loan made by a library to a patron. With this revenue model in place, publishers are more willing to engage with libraries for e-book lending. This fee-based transaction business model contrasts with the prevailing US model, where e-book titles are licensed with fees paid up-front. The Swedish model allows unlimited simultaneous lending of a title, while in the US, the models usually impose borrowing restrictions that limit the number of concurrent loans to the number of copies licensed by the library. These differing e-lending frameworks bring different budget management models to the library. In the US, the budget is based on fixed costs controlled by the library as set by the number of titles offered. In the Swedish model, the costs relate to the number of borrowing transactions.
In Sweden, like the United States, publishers decide when and whether to make their e-books available to libraries for lending. In many cases Swedish publishers release their e-books to libraries only when the commercial sales of the title have wound down.

Library Ideas has created Freading after this model (http://www.libraryideas.com/freadingad113011.pdf).

Oyster (Here is the beginning of a piece written for Wired by Liz Stinson)

By now, we’ve all gotten pretty used to not owning stuff—at least in the traditional, hold-it-in-your-hands sense. If you’re anything like me, your DVD collection stopped growing a few years back once Netflix and Hulu bolstered their offerings. And that CD storage stand (hell, even your iTunes account) has probably gathered dust thanks to Spotify and Rdio. But books? Turns out, we’re still content to pay $10 for a paperless novel that we’re not even certain we’ll like or finish. The publishing industry is among the last holdouts in the ongoing transition from owning media to accessing it through a monthly service, but that’s about to change with the launch of Oyster, an app released today for the iPhone that’s looking to transform the way you read and pay for books.

Maybe you’ve heard that claim before. Kindle does have its lending library, and your local library already allows you to digitally check out books. But when I say Oyster is different, that’s because it is. For $9.95 a month you get unlimited access to more than 100,000 titles, and according to the founders, that number is growing daily. You can jump from Jessica Alba (yes, Jessica Alba wrote a book) to Charles Bukowski with the same ease of shuffling from Katy Perry to J Dilla on Spotify. There’s no pressure to finish either since users can add as many books as they’d like to their reading list, and the last 10 opened will instantly be downloaded for offline reading.

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