10 October 2014

September Audio and Ebook Marc Records Available

Happy Fall!

I have uploaded September Audio Books and Ebooks to the Box!

Kelly McElligott
Stowe Free Library

08 October 2014

The ListenUpVermont Collection Development team will be meeting on October 23rd at 2:00 PM to discuss the best strategies for developing our digital collection. The meeting will take place on GoToMeeting.
Please join us!
1. Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone on Thu, Oct 23, 2:00 PM EDT
2. Use your microphone and speakers (VOIP) for audio. You’ll sound best with a headset. You can also call in using your telephone.
United States (Long distance): +1 (872) 240-3212
Access Code: 137-817-133 

Audio PIN: Shown after joining the session
Not at your computer? Click the link to join this meeting from your iPhone®, iPad®, Android® or Windows Phone® device via the GoToMeeting app.

09 September 2014

Exciting News ! August Ebook records are available

Happy Tuesday,
I have uploaded new Ebook records !  There are no audio book records for August.

The file is August 2014 Ebooks! 

Kelly McElligott
Stowe Free Library

04 August 2014

New Marc Records available !

Happy Monday to all! 
I have uploaded the rest of June and all of July's Marc records. 

Here are their file names :

June and July audio books
June and July ebooks

Have a great week.
Kelly McElligott
Stowe Free Library

25 June 2014

New Audio and Ebook Records!

Happy Wednesday!

I have uploaded the ebook and audio book records for May and June.
You will find them in the folder called May & June 2014.

Kelly McElligott
Stowe Free Library

12 May 2014

April Ebook and Audio Book Records Posted

Hello Spring!
Isn't it beautiful outside?!  But most of us are inside looking out....

I have posted the records for April Ebooks and Audio records for everyone!
The files are called :

April Audio
Ebook April

Kelly McElligott
Stowe Free Library

05 May 2014

Volunteering for LUV

Use of ListenUpVermont is growing by leaps and bounds.  A small team of volunteers is currently making sure that LUV is available for all of us.  And while each of the current volunteers is passionate about having an ebook lending library in Vermont, we desperately need more volunteers to make it all run smoothly.   Please email vtaudiobooks@gmail.com if you would like to help build Vermont's wonderful digital library.  

28 April 2014


The world of ebooks has just gone surreal! OK, so the publishers are collecting data on where in books readers stop reading, how long they stay away, which books are read completely and quickly and everything in between.  Incredible feedback for authors! What will this do to the writing process?   Imagine millions of fans all agreeing that one part of The Hunger Games was written too slow or too fast.  Authors can rewrite...  

Check out this post from Digital Book World (http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2014/a-plea-let-some-ebook-data-flow/).

A Plea: Let Some Ebook Data Flow

Historically, when all others are concentrating on lowering costs, quality wins.
Publishers with a laser focus on improving the reader experience win over those focused on saving pennies per page. There is an appetite for quality enhanced ebooks at a premium (e.g. audio books, companions).
But it’s not necessarily about simply improving the multimedia experience. The best way to improve revenues, stickiness, and loyalty has always been to ask the customer. Customer data is the best indicator of what does and doesn’t work.
Imagine being able to factor in the subtleties of your readers’ experience. What parts of the book did they like and at what parts did they struggle to keep reading? Which sample of the book led to more sales?  Did they finish the book? If so, how long did it take and what were the sticking points? Who is my audience?
The problem with surveying customers is that the sample size of data is typically too small to warrant rewrites. But ebooks afford us the opportunity to capture this data automatically. In fact, the EPUB3 format allows for embedded JavaScript, so we can leverage some of the same type of detailed analytics we get from web pages (that have been optimized and improved for years) – for ebooks.
Yes, there are privacy concerns. Yes, there are data-ownership questions. Yes, there are platform wars. These are strong forces that have brought down laudable efforts to bring this data to authors, such as Hiptype (a short-lived startup that cracked the problem but was strategically blocked by larger forces).
Platforms are not to be blamed, nor are privacy activists. Their assertions and efforts on behalf of the data and readers are valid. But there is a common understanding that our written word could be improved by what is effectively the best possible peer review system available – a mass contingency of actual consumers. And that little “e” in ebooks allows us to dynamically make changes.
So what’s the answer?
There is common ground between data-driven publishing geeks (such as myself), privacy activists, authors, and platform owners. For example, we can all agree that if most students are incorrectly answering the questions at the end of a lesson, changes likely need to be made. Customer data does not have to include personal information, nor does it have any particular value by itself. However, an author/editor would find it invaluable. The ebook could be improved, the lesson would be more valuable, and scores of students would understand trigonometry better than I.
If we can all agree on sharing some of the most basic data elements (perhaps just with the Publisher and Author for the express use of improving quality and conversion), all parties win. Readers will have a better experience, authors will have created a better product, and publishers will increase sales. Best of all, platforms that make such data available would attract more authors and publishers.
The data-driven publishing movement is a strong current that we can control by defining what data is shared, with whom and for what purpose. Building a dam to stop all data is a detriment to readers, students, publishers, authors, and platform owners.
It’s time to open the flood gates and let some data flow.

15 April 2014

As we get deeper into 2014, the word on the street is that libraries and publishers are trying to make things work, trying to make ebooks accessible, but the relationship is far from happy as discussed here in Digital Book World's blog.  
Libraries Annual Report: Relations Between Libraries and Publishers Over Ebooks Improving
The relationships between libraries and ebook publishers are improving, according to a new report from the American Library Association, but have a ways to go.
In its 2014 State of America’s Libraries report, the ALA writes:
After years of conflict between publishers and libraries, 2013 ended with all the major publishers participating in the library ebook market, though important challenges, such as availability and prices, remain.
In 2013, both Macmillan and Simon & Schuster, which had not been selling ebooks to libraries, began pilot programs which were eventually expanded. Macmillan now sells its entire back-list of 11,000 titles to libraries nationwide and Simon & Schuster expanded its first pilot to a dozen libraries and has started a second pilot selling children’s ebooks to libraries. For the first time since the rise of ebooks, all of the major publishers and the vast majority of smaller publishers sell ebooks to libraries in one form or another.
Some library advocates, however, are far from happy with the current state of affairs.
In the ALA report, Clifford Lynch, executive director of the Coalition for Networked Information, called the library ebook situation “appalling,” explaining that denying libraries unfettered access to ebooks threatens the library mission to “preserve cultural heritage, provide accommodation for people with disabilities, and protect individual privacy,” according to the report.
The report goes on to point out other issues between libraries and publishers when it comes to ebooks, like the various publisher business models, privacy issues, sales of ebooks to library consortia which share the materials, accessibility to patrons with disabilities, digital preservation of content, interoperability of digital files and integration of ebooks into the overall library system of gathering, disseminating and saving information.
Amid these issues that are of concern to libraries, one stands out and ties them all together: Cost. Ebooks, unlike print books, can’t be resold by libraries and, in some cases, are more expensive for libraries to purchase than the general public. A good example of how this can put financial strain on a library is the Cuyahoga County Library System’s acquisition of some 300 ebook copies of Fifty Shades of Grey for nearly $24,000 last year. It’s exemplary of an issue libraries across the country are facing. .
Libraries believe that publishers fear them and fear cannibalization of book sales if they make it too easy or cheap for libraries to acquire ebooks, according to the report:
Major publishers and publishing associations seem to fear that libraries could circulate ebooks to thousands of readers, decimating their profits…. Some publishers refuse to work with libraries, while others insist on charging libraries many times the prices paid by their other customers.
The report calls on the ALA and other professional organizations to devote more time and effort to the issue as individual libraries have little market power on their own.

28 March 2014

March Ebooks and Audio Book records are here!~


Are we enjoying this beautiful March weather? 
I have uploaded the March Audio and Ebook records to the Box.  There is an added folder to click open, so first click the Listen Up Vermont folder, then find the Recorded Book folder and open that, then you will find

  • March ebook
  • March ebook2
  • March audio


Kelly McElligott
Stowe Free Library

24 February 2014

January & February Records are in!

 MARC Records are now in!

The audio and ebook records are now here and available!

The files are listed as :
jan 2014 ebooks
jan 2014 audio
feb 2014 ebooks
feb 2014 audio

Kelly McElligott
Stowe Free Library

10 February 2014

Listen Up! Vermont Up and Running

Yesterday afternoon, Bywater Solutions resolved the issue of the "invalid stamp." Listen Up! Vermont is once again available.


09 February 2014

Listen Up! Vermont Currently Unavailable

We are experiencing issues signing in to Listen Up! Vermont. On signing into Listen Up! Vermont, you may have experienced the following error message:

 Bywater Solutions have been notified of the issue, and we will update this blog as soon as it's been resolved.


03 February 2014

I thought reading was about imagination and empathy?

The competition to sell the most books is getting nasty! Don't know how big business took over my favorite past time, but nonetheless they are telling us what to read and what not to read.  We have begun to judge books by their covers and look at literature in many shallow ways.  Children's book publishers make the books thirty-two pages long.  Doesn't this limit the creative process just a bit? Young adult literature has to grab a teen within the first couple pages or else it is put down, so murder, rape, and other egregious story twists are put on page two or three so that our adrenaline kicks in as we read and we decide, "I can't put this down!"

But, it's gone far beyond what is in the book at this point.  David Wilk has once again shed light on something in shadow, in this case it is the despicable nature of book selling.  Take a look.  Again you can find many of David's pieces on http://www.booktrix.com/live/index.php/blog/.

Is the Amazon Book Review System Broken?

Amazon customer book reviews have become an extremely powerful tool for the giant retailer.  Crowdsourcing book reviews provides Amazon masses of free content, allows readers to participate in the bookselling and reading experience, and clearly helps sell a lot of books, giving Amazon yet one more advantage over bricks and mortar stores and even other online retailers who have been slower or less able to get their own customers to do the same.
Of course, since customer reviews have become so important, the system has been frequently gamed – many authors and publishers (and especially online marketers) quickly saw the benefits of having a large number of positive reviews for their books, and either got their friends and family members to write reviews, or went much further.  Some less ethical souls have created fake reviews under other Amazon accounts, or asked employees to make it a part of their jobs to contribute reviews for company published books.  And seeing a business opportunity, a number of entrepreneurs have created "paid review" businesses where anyone can get positive "customer" reviews posted to Amazon for a fee.
Over time, customer reviews have become integrated into the Amazon ecosystem.  Amazon search results are based in part on the number and quality of customer reviews, and their search algorithms promote books with large numbers of positive reviews, creating a powerful network effect, where a large number of positive reviews not only signifies meaning, but can serve to drive sales geometrically.
How can anxious authors (and again some publishers) resist addressing the need to find a way to acquire large numbers of positive reviews, simply to avoid becoming lost in the Amazon shuffle?  No amount of begging your fans will get enough reviews for your books.  And very few writers and publishers have large enough networks to draw significant customer reviews over and over for every book they write.
How do we deal with the fact that unbeknownst to most Amazon customers, thousands of so-called customer reviews were written and posted for pay?
And there are other potentially damaging behaviors that have arisen in the customer review system at Amazon, including authors writing negative reviews of books that were competitive with their own, or readers (perhaps shilling for other writers and publishers) giving one star reviews to books for illegitimate or irrelevant reasons, thereby unfairly damaging the sales of certain books.  Recently a jilted lover went on a campaign to give multiple one-star reviews to a writer.
Amazon knows it is bad for everyone if even some writers are known to buy reviews.  In 2012, after a number of stories ran in national media, including the New York Times, the company tried to address the issue of paid reviews (as well as the related practice of targeted negative reviews aimed at competitive books) by banning not only paid reviews, but any review written by anyone with a perceived conflict of interest, including all authors and employees of publishing companies.
This broad stroke approach has not worked very well.  There are innumerable stories of perfectly legitimate reviews being removed from book pages by Amazon, and thousands of paid reviews still pervade the Amazon bookstore.  Authors reviewing other authors’ books has long been an accepted practice and now  many authors wonder why all peer created literary reviews are simply disallowed.  Meanwhile, unethical writers have found new ways to salt their review collections.  And there are still plenty of bullies using the power of the one star review to drive down book visibility and thus sales.
The system of crowdsourced customer reviewing is at best a gathering of human beings that shows the power large numbers of people working together in community are capable of achieving.  Unfortunately, crowdsourcing also fosters the illusion that self-regulating systems will bring peace and harmony to all.   As soon as the door is open wide to everyone, along come those few individuals whose behaviors fracture the belief that purely unmanaged communities can conquer the dark side of human nature.
An abused (and sometimes abusive) system, especially one that was created for good purposes, needs to be managed.  Amazon has benefitted immensely over the years by creating a socially driven system that has engendered the vast quantities of book related content to drive reader engagement and book sales.  But now so much has gone wrong with the review system, it’s time for Amazon to step up and put more resources to bear on supervising and controlling the review system.
It’s going to be a tricky thing, as the latest uproar at Amazon-owned Goodreads demonstrates.  Goodreads faces similar issues with managing its millions of members.  Recently, Goodreads announced it would remove offensive reviews (“we recently recognized that we can do a better job enforcing them [their tenets], particularly in the small number of situations where tensions start to run high. We took a long, hard look at our guidelines and how we moderate Goodreads and identified some areas where we can be clearer and where we can improve.”)  Managing community is no easy thing these days.
For Amazon it’s not going to be enough for them to simply enforce their regulations.  Customer reviews have too much power, and Amazon is too monolithic and opaque in its relations with authors and publishers.  Amazon is famously and brilliantly customer centric.  Now it’s (past) time for Amazon to engage with its author and publishing community just as intelligently and creatively as it does with customers.

31 January 2014

Strong Current

Ebook distribution diversification is speeding up, many new options were discussed at Digital Book World's conference this past weekend.  Like I have said in earlier posts, we need to figure out the future of digital libraries, so that we don't go the way of the dodo bird.  Digital Book World is full of information on the current trends and thoughts.  This was posted there on September 5th (http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/spotify-for-ebooks-oyster-launches/).

Oyster Launches Spotify for Ebooks

The company's flag hanging in its Manhattan office.
The company’s flag hanging in its Manhattan office.
Oyster, the highly anticipated, venture-backed ebook subscription platform for iPhones launched today. The app is available for iPhone devices and will soon be available on other platforms, including the iPad this fall and, later, Android.
The company is launching with 100,000 ebook titles available from publishers such as HarperCollins, Workman, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and self-publishing distributor Smashwords. The service will cost $9.95 a month to read an unlimited number of books on up to six devices. The number of titles offered through Oyster will be “increasing over time,” CEO Eric Stromberg told Digital Book World.
The product has been a year in the making, following a $3 million funding announcement last October. Since then, the company has worked quickly to create an attractive iPhone app and cobble together deals to fill the app with content.
The company declined to share its business model, however — just how authors, publishers and other stakeholders are compensated for making their titles available. The company leadership only told Digital Book World that the model was a “win-win-win,” for rights-holders, readers and the company and its investors.
“It was a very hard problem that involved understandnig the needs of authors, publishers and consumers,” said Stromberg, citing that he believes Oyster has it solved due to months of strategizing and in-house know-how from employees like Matt Shatz, who had been a vice president of digital at Random House.
Like any new app, Oyster will be challenged to find users. The company plans on relying primarily on public relations for now, including a series of reporter visits prior to launch that have resulted in a flurry of articles around the app’s release. The company doesn’t currently have any plans to work with Apple on additional app store exposure and currently users who want to buy the service have to request an invitation to do so.
Earlier this week, eReatah, another subscription ebook platform, launched, though it seems to function more like a book-of-the-month club with discounts. It has several tiers of service, starting at about $17 a month for two books. Unlike Oyster, where books are downloaded into the app and then can be read offline through the app with a subscription, eReatah users “own” the ebooks outright once they download them and can access them through the app even if they are no longer subscribers. (As with Kindle ebooks and most others, “own” means license.)
Oyster and eReatah are not the first two companies to offer such services, although in the U.S., they are the first outside of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library to offer it across a wide variety of titles.Safari Books Online offers a selection of ebooks for a professional, technical audience and Bookboardoffers kids ebooks, to name two. And, in Spain, 24symbols has created a general-interest ebook subscription service.
One enticing proposition for publishers around this new distribution model is the possibility of exposing readers to new authors and new books they may not discover anywhere else. Oyster, for instance, will use a combination of editorial, social and algorithmic recommendations to suggest new titles to readers. Users will see book recommendations through editorial lists, Facebook and Twitter integrations and suggested reading based on reading they’ve already done. For now, publishers will not be offered opportunities to pay for extra exposure for their titles.

29 January 2014

Gutenburg's Larger Role in the 21st Century

David Wilk keeps offering amazing perspective on the evolving ebook world.

What is Freedom of the Press in the Electronic Book Era? By David Wilk 


Freedom of the press belongs to whomever owns the press.  Which was, at
the time words were physically applied to paper by printing presses, another way of saying that the only way you can be guaranteed to speak your mind and be heard is to control the means of production.

In the modern networked world, this means that freedom of the press belongs to whomever owns the delivery system and ultimately, the customer relationship.

Publishers used to bump up against printers who had different values than they did, and were sometimes told that the printing company would not accept the job.  That was the printer’s right, and the publisher’s response then was to find a printer more willing to print unpopular or even unappealing words or images on paper.  This made sense, of course, only because there was a reasonable number of printers competing for work.

A similar situation exists today, except the "presses" are devices and networked delivery systems, Amazon and Apple being the two most obvious.  However now, if you want to publish electronic books, you’re pretty much at their mercy.

If being a “publisher” is defined by the act of making written works public, then is it possible to be a publisher without distribution?  Obviously not, otherwise the publisher is no better off than the creator.

In the electronic content environment, distribution is determined by the entities that own the customer relationship, i.e., the means to reach them.  Doesn’t that make publishers dependent on Amazon, Apple and to a smaller extent, the other myriad of niche sites where readers are willing to give up their credit cards and private information in order to be able to safely download content?

Freedom of the press belongs to any publisher whose technology enables readers to access that publisher’s work.  No publisher has that freedom today, nor does any author.  Are there sufficient protections for publishers, authors and readers to guarantee that freedom of expression will actually exist in a digital publishing environment?

Recently, as part of the battle over pricing and terms, publishers have found themselves pincered between Apple’s terms for the new iPad based iBookstore, and Amazon’s terms for doing business with their currently dominant Kindle store.

Publishers who thought that Apple was their savior are learning that it will not be that simple.

The story has not yet fully unfolded, but it appears to me that publishers and authors are soon going to learn the extent of their weakness in an arena where larger entities own the roads they need to travel to reach their customers.

Can we trust the market to protect 1st Amendment rights?  There’s no evidence that large corporations value freedom over profits.  We may need to rethink the rules that apply to near monopolies in the electronic distribution environment, and it is very possible that only the threat of regulation will ever cause Apple and Amazon to tread more lightly when it comes to doing business with writers and publishers.

23 January 2014

What Will Sales Be Like in the Next Five Years?

Take a look at this projection posted here: http://paidcontent.org/2013/06/04/pwc-the-u-s-consumer-ebook-market-will-be-bigger-than-the-print-book-market-by-2017/

Lots of different outlets are trying to project the size of the U.S. ebook market and how fast it’s growing. In its annual “Entertainment & Media Outlook,” set to be released Wednesday, PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) estimates that trade (consumer, not educational or academic) ebooks will drive $8.2 billion in sales by 2017 — surpassing projected print book sales, which it thinks will shrink by more than half during that period.
Here’s how the firm thinks the trade print and ebook markets are going to evolve. Note that figures are projected from 2012 onwards.
YearConsumer e-books (US$ millions)Size of the consumer book publishing marketEbooksPrint and audiobooks20082009201020112012(p)201320142015201620170k5k10k15k20k
The total size of the trade book industry, PwC estimated, will be $16.1 billion by 2017 — smaller than it was in 2008, with ebooks not quite able to pick up the slack as the print market shrinks.
PwC also projects that ebooks will make up 38 percent of all book sales — both trade and educational books — by 2017, from 16 percent today.

Wondering how this compares to BookStats?

PwC’s projections are roughly in line with those from other sources. The most recent edition of BookStats pegged the total size of the U.S. trade book industry at $15.05 billion in 2012, with ebooks kicking in $3.04 billion of that. PwC, meanwhile, calculates the size of the market at $15.2 billion in 2012, with ebooks contributing $3.35 billion. But BookStats thinks that the market grew by 6.9 percent between 2011 and 2012, while PwC thinks it shrank by 1.3 percent.
If you’re wondering which one to trust more, keep in mind that they are both projections and that it’s worth looking at methodology: BookStats incorporates net sales revenue and unit data from nearly 2,000 U.S. publishers, then projects the size of the entire industry; PwC says that it looks at “retail spending by consumers on consumer books…and spending on books in electronic formats” and that it derives historical data ”principally from confidential and proprietary sources” — including research group Informa Telecoms & Media — then projects.

22 January 2014

2012 Book and eBook Sales

Interesting stats from the ebook world: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/15/business/media/e-book-sales-a-boon-to-publishers-in-2012.html?_r=0.

I guess we have to wait a couple of months for the 2013 stats, but most predictions say that ebooks are gaining ground, albeit at a slower pace.  

The big question that still needs to be answered is, "Will digital natives choose print or ebook?"

E-Book Sales a Boon to Publishers in 2012

E-book sales, especially in the thriving romance genre, gave the book business a lift in 2012, according to a survey of publishers released Wednesday.
In a year that was monopolized by the “Fifty Shades” erotic novels and their various knockoffs, e-book sales in fiction rose 42 percent over the year before, to $1.8 billion. Growth in nonfiction e-book sales was smaller, a 22 percent increase, to $484.2 million. E-book sales in the children’s and young-adult categories increased 117 percent, to $469.2 million.
The survey revealed that e-books now account for 20 percent of publishers’ revenues, up from 15 percent in 2011. Publishers’ net revenues in 2012 were $15 billion, up from $14 billion in 2011, while unit sales of trade books increased 8 percent, to $2.3 billion.
The annual survey, known as BookStats, was compiled by two trade groups, the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group. It includes data from about 1,500 publishers, including the six major trade houses.
The numbers reflected a publishing industry where more books are available in more formats than ever before, and where consumers’ preferences continue to shift. Print formats were flat or decreasing, while e-books and downloadable audiobooks boomed.
“You’re seeing an evolution in terms of the way that people are accessing content,” said Dominique Raccah, a former chairwoman of the Book Industry Study Group and the publisher of Sourcebooks, a midsize publishing company in Naperville, Ill., outside Chicago. “Audio downloads are up, e-books are up. There’s a migration in format clearly occurring. Customers can now access books in a lot of different ways.”
Publishers’ revenue from brick-and-mortar retail stores suffered, dropping 7 percent to $7.5 billion, while revenue from online retailers like Amazon boomed, rising 21 percent, to $6.9 billion. The survey was the first glimpse of a full year of book sales after the bankruptcy and liquidation of the Borders chain in 2011.
Sales of hardcover and trade paperback books were relatively flat: hardcovers accounted for just over $5 billion in 2012, up from $4.9 billion in 2011. Mass-market paperbacks, the smaller format of paperback popular in airports and grocery stores, also decreased in sales.
Another format that continued its rise in popularity was the downloadable audiobook, which had a 22 percent bump in revenues in 2012 compared with 2011, increasing to $240.7 million from $197.7 million. Publishers attributed the increase partly to the widespread use of mobile devices.

21 January 2014

The Big Picture

I have begun to tease apart the many pieces that are in play as we move forward in developing an eLending model for libraries that publishers and authors support.  On Friday, I posted the principles that the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions adopted this October after a comprehensive think tank looked at all the issues.  The comprehensive assessment of the state of affairs can be found here, http://www.ifla.org/node/7447.  

It is aptly named:

The Thinkpiece: ‘Libraries, eLending, and the Future of Public Access to Digital Content’

17 January 2014

Libraries Finding Backbone to Stay Alive in Digital Age

An inspirational step by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions in October.  They created a workgroup in October of 2012 to explore fair and equitable eLending models, then set forth principles that would guide their policies this October.  I found them here, http://www.ifla.org/node/7418.

IFLA Principles for Library eLending

Following the production of the IFLA Background Paper on eLending the IFLA Governing Board tasked the eLending Working Group with developing a set of principles that could guide library professionals as they grapple with the complicated process of negotiating eBook licenses with publishers and resellers.
The principles below are intended to help all library professionals seeking to provide downloadable eBook content to their users, and are broadly drafted to maintain relevance across IFLA’s 150 member countries.
  • Full Version [Word Rev 2: 16 August 2013]
  • Full Version [PDF Rev 2: 16 August 2013]
The arrival of the internet age and the proliferation of digital content have heralded a new and exciting phase in the democratisation of information, ideas, and knowledge – arguably at least as potent and transformative as any other event in recorded history. However, despite the myriad of innovative social and economic benefits attached to widespread digital distribution and access to information and content, there are disturbing signs that in the realm of public access, the clock is turning back in certain areas.


At this stage in the evolution of digital dissemination of text based content, libraries and their users wish at a minimum to be able to obtain and use an eBook in the same way they can obtain and use a print book. However, libraries are facing the new reality where they are often constrained from acquiring commercially available eBooks for their collections under acceptable terms and conditions. For example, some trade publishers and authors are withholding sales when they believe that access to eBooks by libraries may undermine retail sales and thereby reduce royalties.
The exhaustion of rights for digital content is an issue of increasing legal debate and uncertainty. Rights holders operate on the assumption that they can control all subsequent uses of digital works following initial access by the purchaser. This assumption has been the subject of legal proceedings in several countries. Should an consensus emerge that exhaustion should be applied for digital works in the same way it applies to physical objects (i.e. that  reselling and lending is permissible without rightsholder approval as long as one copy of the same work  remains one copy) a number of  the IFLA principles will be achievable. Should the rightsholders interpretation prevail that they can control all post-first sale uses of digital works, the library’s public service mission of ensuring societal access to written culture over time will be undermined.
The IFLA Principles on eBooks in Libraries is based on the assumption that it is necessary for libraries and publishers/authors to agree to reasonable terms and conditions for the library acquisition of eBooks, thus allowing libraries to fulfil their mission of guaranteeing access to knowledge and information for their communities. While we need  solutions that support the publisher’s and author’s financial viability,  it is not acceptable for a publisher or author to  restrict a library's ability to license and/or purchase otherwise commercially available eBooks for library collections. 
If the practice of withholding eBooks from libraries continues, publishers/authors should be required in legislation to make eBooks available to libraries under reasonable terms and conditions. In countries where publishers and authors receive public financial support, the argument for government mandated public access to published works through libraries is especially strong.
Libraries worldwide operate with a fundamental mission of providing access to information and, while acknowledging that regional differences exist in technological capacity and maturity of the eBook marketplace, this mission is universal and should prevail.


1.   A library must have the right to license and/or purchase any commercially available eBook without embargo. If titles are withheld from the library market by publishers and/or authors, national legislation should require such access under reasonable terms and conditions. Libraries must be able to determine their own acquisitions by choosing specific titles from publisher or distributor listings in support of their mandate to provide community access to information and knowledge. 
2.   A library must have access to eBooks under reasonable terms and conditions and at a fair price. Terms of access should be transparent and costs predictable to enable the library to operate within its budget and funding cycles. 
3.   eBook licensing/purchase options must respect copyright limitations and exceptions available to libraries and their users in national law, such as the right to:
a.     Copy a portion of the work
b.     Re-format the work for preservation purposes if it is licensed and/or purchased for permanent access
c.     Provide a temporary copy of the work to another library in response to a user request
d.     Reformat a work to enable access for people with print disabilities
e.     By- pass a technological protection measure for the purpose of exercising any non-infringing purpose.
4.   eBooks available to libraries should be platform neutral and developed with standards for accessibility. Content should be capable of integration into library systems and online public access catalogues, and interoperable across platforms, applications and e-reader devices that the library or library patron has chosen to invest in.
5.   Strategies must be in place to ensure the long term preservation of eBook titles by libraries. Long term availability of eBook titles should not be compromised by factors such as a publisher ceasing to operate. This can be addressed through measures including the collaborative development of archival databases by publishers and libraries and legislative solutions which require the legal deposit of digital content with specified agencies.
6.   eBook services must protect the privacy of library users. Libraries and their users must be able to make informed decisions about the control and use of personal information including reading choices.
These Principles were endorsed by the IFLA Governing Board in February 2013. 1st Rev April 2013, 2nd Rev August 2013.

15 January 2014

The Ebook Revolution by David Wilk (http://www.booktrix.com/live/index.php/blog/the_ebook_revolution)

I think today it is both revealing and helpful to think about e-book pricing in the context of the rise of mass market paperbacks in the 1950’s and into the 1960’s.

As a book industry veteran friend of mine has pointed out to me, when mass market paperbacks first became popular, they were priced at approximately 10% of the retail price of the then prevalent hardcover editions, on average about $.25 for a mass market paperback at a time when hardcover books were selling for $2.50 or $3.00.

At that time, paperbacks were cheaply produced in huge quantities and displayed in drugstores, supermarkets, department stores.  Some of the relatively small number of independent bookstores did not even carry mass market paperbacks, and if they did, they were in racks and spinners supplied to them by the wholesalers that controlled magazine distribution and therefore had access to retailer channels.

Mass market paperbacks were initially differentiated by being reprints of books that had come out first in hardcover, and because publishers knew they would compete with their higher priced new books, they simply held back mass market releases until the hardcover sale had run its course, usually a year, to be sure they harvested as much demand as possible at the higher hardcover price.  Some titles, particularly those in genres like westerns, mysteries, science fiction and romance, were released in mass market first (or only), to feed the burgeoning demand of general readers for inexpensive entertaining books (which publishers differentiated, sometimes snootily, from the “serious literature” and nonfiction they saw as the core of their business).

Sound familiar?

Over time the “paperback revolution” grew to include a later invention, the larger and more expensive, better printed, “trade paperback” and now of course, mass market editions have significantly declined, mainly because their former mass merchant, drugstore, supermarket and airport store core outlets shifted their shelf space to higher margin products in other categories.

Today we are witnessing the advent of what is essentially, the first new book format in almost 75 years, the e-book (the audio books was of course, a new format but not for reading).  E-books can create new markets for books in the same way that mass market paperbacks did.  Readers who could not afford hardcovers, readers who found paperbacks more convenient, readers who were voracious consumers of books, all flocked to the new paperback format, just as they are doing today for e-books.

E-books are poised to create a new revolution of their own, certainly proven by current rates of sales on many titles.  But one thing is different about e-books.  At the outset of the mass market paperback revolution, books in this format were published under license by new companies or in some cases introduced new writers in categories that were underserved or not served at all by old line hardcover publishers, such as romance, westerns, mysteries and science fiction categories.  These new publishers recognized their market niche as open but at low prices to take advantage of a new market that would simply not buy books at the higher prices commanded by hardcovers.

Today, e-books are being publisher for the most part, by the same publishers who issue the print versions originally.  E-books are not seen as a “subsidiary” rights sale, but as an extension of the initial publishing strategy.  Combined with their desire to preserve revenue against existing overhead in a business that was built for print, publishers are pricing ebooks much higher in relation to hardcovers and trade paperbacks than mass market paperbacks ever were priced.  So we see many ebooks priced at $9.99 (the new defacto standard for many books it seems) and up.

Many smaller trade publishers, as well as authors publishing their own books and some new digital-only publishers are pricing their ebooks at much lower levels ($5.99 and down).  If you look at ebook sales, it is pretty obvious that price is a huge driver for many consumers.  At $3.99 (or better yet, $2.99 or even $.99), readers will often take chances on a new or emerging writer, or an established writer who might be new to them.

At $9.99 (or more) most readers will not take chances.  The risk and reward don’t line up when reading time and money are precious.

All books are price sensitive of course, so publishers will reasonably argue that they do not want to race to the bottom, or devalue their authors’ works.  Those are of course valid arguments in favor of keeping prices of ebooks more like hardcover books than the much lower levels that are equivalent to mass market pricing.

(Supply and demand determine a product’s equilibrium price and quantity. Graph courtesy of Prof. Daniel Richards. Background image courtesy of Ken Hammond, U.S. Department of Agriculture.)

But I will argue that traditional publishers are missing the market opportunity created by the e-book revolution when they fail to create a significant price benefit for their e-books.  Publishing digitally is in fact less expensive than publishing print books.  This does not mean that every book should be digital only – readers have proved over and over again that they will buy print books when they feel the need to have a visible “souvenir” of their reading experience, a book in physical form, and many readers are willing to pay a premium for this version.

Just as equally, consumers have made clear that if books are inexpensive, they will buy and read more of them, taking on more risk and rewarding publishers and authors they like with a full measure of loyalty and commitment.

I think this means that publishers should now be thinking hard about ways they can reduce ebook prices and increase readership.  Publishers who are willing to reduce prices will create a real “ebook revolution.”  We can do this by pricing our ebooks low enough to broaden the market for books and reading, while our consumers reward us with higher sales and the kind of support and commitment that other media would be thrilled to have.

Authors also need to recognize that this strategy is in their best interests.  With ever more writers seeking readers, it makes sense to use price to gain attention, as Amanda Hocking and C.A. Konrath and many others have bravely demonstrated.  Now that we live in an attention economy, creatives in every media form need discovery and consumers’ time and attention even more than they need money from sales (in the attention economy, money follows where attention leads – and that is the subject of my next post on digital publishing).

I’d like to point out that my friend, the much admired Mike Shatzkin, has posted a new piece called “Ebooks are making me recall the history of mass-market publishing” which is more detailed and grounded in historical detail than what I have written here, and I recommend reading Mike’s piece for further confirmation of my views.  Thanks also to Lou Aronica of The Fiction Studio for suggesting the original mass market paperback as the best way to think about ebooks today.