IL2011: E-Book Experiments

Ebook Research & Experiments
Pamela Jacobs, Brock University; Wendy Rodgers, Memorial University of Newfoundland;
Denise Davis, Sacramento Public Library; Amy Punaro Calhoun, Sacramento Public Library

Pamela & Wendy
Ebooks vs print: User prefernces for Canadian books at two universities

Both have about 15,000 FTE. About 3,000 km apart. MUN has twice as many grad students. grant funding  for social sciences – MUN twice as much. Brock – one faculty offers distance classes, MUN has 400 courses in distance ed. Geography may also play a role – MUN is the only university in their region. ILL takes a long time – more willing to embrace ebooks.

Wanted to study something lots of libraries had. Canadian Publishers’ Collection – 47 publishers, lots of UPs, backlist. Perpetual access, multi-user. Titles available through ebrary. Focus on social sciences & humanities. 2009.

Measured ebook use of a title via COUNTER, print via circ stats. Very different metrics. Looked at whether titles were used at all – Y/N. Problem of knowing if a book is used in the building, if someone who checks it out even opens it, opens it a lot.

Overall electronic use – lots of requests but number of titles used low. 8k titles in package, they used 1100 and 1600. 5% of titles used by both. Brock titles very closely tied to curriculum needs. Top 100 most used ebooks at Brock – 58 had been on reserve in print at some point. Top title had no print holding. MUN – top title had 15 copies in the stacks. Also reflects curriculum. MUN used a ton of titles published in Newfoundland — have a Newfie studies center.

Subset of 8k titles in the electronic – two UPs and two date spans of the backlist. Looked at Y/N use in 09-10. Brock had 301 titles in both formats. 131 used in print (46%) 81 in electronic. MUN held 289 – no statistically significant difference between print and e use.

MUN overall more electronic. Brock preference for print copy; MUN about even. Maybe FTE is not the best indicator of use – calls pricing models into question.

Local context matters – distance ed, curriculum driven use, level of research happening. If you do the study alone you get very different oucomes. We tend to look at case studies and then extrapolate – misleading.

Big deal/consortial purchasing ignores local selection. On average titles in packages used less than those that are purchased individually.

Need to look at this over time. Also, what about frontlist? Does that change format preference?

Check Out An E-Reader

Sacramento PL cirulating e-readers. Why the device? Growing trend. Adoption doubled in 6 months (but still low – 12% own). People interested but couldn’t get a device themselves.

Circulated readers with pre-loaded content. Lots of staff-time troubleshooting. Wanted to focus on the use of the reader itself for these users.

CA State Library has a “pitch an idea” program. Do a short grant app to get feedback. Got $100,000 in LSTA funding. Feedback that they were selected because of willingness to partner with a retailer and do assessment and create a guide for other libraries to replicate their model.

Started with 108 classic nooks, plus 30 for staff use – really familiar. Every branch got one. 20 titles per device – not all the same. Had 11 genres. Check out a “mystery nook” for example. Added more by the end of the project — phased it in — 168 nook touch. 10 were replacements for damaged/unreturned. Some other savings led them to do 50 titles per device. Periodically refreshed so there is newish content on them.

Can load one title onto six items if you’re using the consumer model. (B&N offers a school/library model, too.) Circulated in cases with library logo. Went in same ILL bins, on top of the books. Bag contained circulation rules, user guide, charger and survey. Users also have to sign agreement when they check it out.

Offered classes for staff. Patrons could go to classes at branches – B&N reps came in. Also offered video. People didn’t really need training though — less than 10% of patrons attended because they found it easy to use.

Within a week of launch every device checked out. 1500 people waiting. 10:1 hold ratio – same as print materials. 1k checkouts.

Assessment – surveys (mandatory), interviews, focus groups. Really like it! Yay large print but it’s so lightweight! “Wish I could load things to the e-reader.” 70% satisfied or very satisfied with selection on the readers. Looking into ways to get what the patron wants on the device, on demand. First time most users had used an e-reader. 80% said it was easy or very easy to use. Bestseller nook was the most popular, romance in second place. 84% would recommend this. 67% would keep borrowing the e-readers – 47% likely or very likely to buy one.

Next? Lucky Day collection – not cataloged, can’t be waitlisted. If you happen to walk in you can grab it! (Rarely on the shelf for more than an hour or two.) Book club – circulating 15 books in a box with discussion ?s. Going to try same with nooks. Test books – rarely around when people want them. eBooks by Mail – discontinued print books by mail due to cost of postage.


Q: What was the lending period on the e-readers? A: Three weeks, same as print.

Q: We’re doing something similar, devices just came in. Why are we doing this? Are we trying to close the digital divide gab? Testing ground for potential buyers? How’d you deal with that? A: Transliteracy is one of our goals. 60-70% of users said they were more comfortable with e-readers overall after borrowing one.

Q: Damaged/lost? How? How locked down so people can’t get the material off? A: One damaged in transit. Some patrons who damaged them fessed up and paid, others were billed. Accounts password protected. They can deactivate the device but they couldn’t get the content off – don’t have account password.

Q: MUN – you were also doing an e-reader project at the same time. Did this impact use for your studies? A: Couldn’t put the books we looked at on the e-readers.

Q: Lots of ebooks, no e-readers. Are your circ stats up? A: Ebook collection had shown steady increase so hard to say what, if any, correlated to study. Print – summer reading at the same time. Might be able to tell in fall.

Q: Grad v undergrad numbers. Did you track who was looking at the books? A: No way of tracking – don’t know who has it once it’s returned. Not available for e-usage either.

Q: Damaged by patrons — how? Harder to get them back on time than print? A: Patron said he dropped it, front was crushed. Easier to get them back on time because people were aware of that $250 replacement cost – had signed a lending agreement.