IL2011: E-Book Workflow

Talk About: Ebooks, Users, & Library Workflow
Leslie Lees, ebrary; Matt Nauman, YBP Library Services; Lisa Carlucci Thomas, consultant

Leslie: Physical library collections used to guarantee quality & deliver access. But users are more self-service oriented and see way more content than we can provide – they perceive libraries as limiting their access. Challenges: include more content, greater access BUT still act as curator/quality filter. Try to target purchases to deliver better value to the users. Usage stats showing things never used, not used often.

Lisa: Significant challenges? Managing ebooks along their life cycle. Try to align ebook purchases with print purchase practice. But not analagous – more like e-resources. Workflows don’t fit.

Matt: Demand-driven acquisition – driven by budget pressure, use stats — 40-50% of collection isn’t being touched. As ebooks evolve, consider that things don’t have to be in the colleciton, they’re available when someone wants it. Instatntly, or almost. Accessibility doesn’t mean it’s physically int he collection

Lisa: Choice patrons make – if they go to the library and search repeatedly and don’t get what they want, they don’t connect with someone who can purchase what they’re looking for. But if you have the record and someone finds it, they can then get to it! Librarian is notified that someone has accessed it. (DDA may also be a short-term loan.)

Matt: DDA allows you to build a way larger library than you could otherwise. Things are available – free browse period, short-term loan, might lead to a purchase.

Leslie: We do this but I’m not convinced it’s a universal positive. We did a pilot – discovered that libraries hit the funding cap quickly. (Duke in pilot — $50k gone through in 2 weeks.) Makes people nervous.

Lisa: Do we own it or lease it, if we own do we have arrangements for backing up? Building collections you expect to have access to in perpetuity.

Leslie: Everyone can see the whole universe of what’s available now that we have Amazon. Users know what we’re missing – library collection looking small in comparison.

Matt: Our mantra – our processes were developed for print approval/standing order plans. Need to start from scratch with DDA. We can modify approval profiles for DDA, though. Gives librarian some control. What we put into the “consideration pool” for DDA is appropriate – fits your research needs, student needs, etc. Developed manual DDA – librarians go in and see things that aren’t in the pool but should be, so they can build it as well.

Leslie: Successful in convincing publishers this is a good way to go. Uphill struggle with some, especially university presses. Small publishers with small budgets/cash flow. Change in the predictability is bad.

Matt: We’ve seen 20-25% of books in approval plan came out as ebooks within 8 weeks of publication date. Working to get more content into ebrary, more of it available for DDA and short-term lease.

Lisa: We rely on you guys to provide us with analytics. What’s selling, why. Helps us understand our community. Publishers also need this data.

Matt: We go back to publishers to help them understand what’s going on in the marketplace. With approval plans it’s harder for them to tell. Longer process to develop these analytics for ebooks.

Leslie: System designed to add efficiency has detaching different parts of the industry from one another and have to make more effort to connect, pass information. Publishers have no idea who buys their books or what they do with them. Danger that DDA could make this worse.

Lisa: Making things more transparent – we talk about this all the time. Silos are a barrier. Publishers have a disconnect – talk about how this is contributing to their anxiety.

Leslie: In addition to not knowing who their customers are, they have weird ideas. UPs believe every library everywhere buys all their books. YBP knows that a consortia with 15-20 high-level research libraries will only buy 4-5 copies.

Matt: We spent years developing reports for publishers. Now we’re starting over with ebooks. Developing ways to put records in, set up short term loans, what about reports? Big part of YBP’s current phase — reporting going 3 ways (library, themselves, publishers).

Leslie: Big fear of publishers is that DDA will show that there’s no demand for their titles. “Books get used when they’re discoverable.” Teaching, studying, learning is a social experience, need to make sure things are findable and shareable.

Matt: Academic publishers who’ve opted out of DDA — afraid of what this will do for sales. Doesn’t matter if you participate or not but if you’re in the pool you have a better chance.

Lisa: How do we deliver value these days? Budgets are tight, but user norms and expectations are changing. Patrons want a direct connection with whatever ebook they want. Otherwise why go back to us? We’re just a middleman. Once they have something they want to share it, but when they’re looking they’re looking for what they want/need.

Leslie: What can we do to help?

Lisa: More communication with publishers. Conversations about DRM and what it means for the end-user (or lack thereof).

Matt: Everyone is in a period of transition. We’re still a middleman. For example, not shipping anymore. But that’s what we’re set up to do. We’ll probably move more towards end-to-end management. Discovery, manage process, track things for you, removal of what’s not being used, etc. End users are in the picture now for us.

Lisa: Digital has turned media and music on its head. Users are creating things and deciding what the environment will look like. Analytics and data will help us understand where we’re going.


Q: We don’t have any ebooks yet. If you buy a bunch, can you determine different loan periods for them? Reserve? Reference collection? A: Leslie – most models are single-seat or multi-seat. Launching a download model soon. For those, the download period can be set however the library determines. Day, week, month, whatever. Library’s choice. Lisa –  Multi-use isn’t available for all books – up to publisher. So do you purchase multiple copies? Leslie – textbooks rarely made available through aggregators, sold to individuals. Course reserves/books aimed at use in courses are tricky because they might lose a ton of sales.

Q: Future for e-textbooks? A: Lisa – hazy. unpredictable. Until the licenses are suitable we’re going to be stuck in limbo with multiple models. Matt – infancy of this product. It’ll evolve, change. No hard & fast answers right now. Leslie – when ebooks are no longer called ebooks but are just “books” we’ll know we’ve arrived.

Q: DDA changes marketing? Books titled after search strings? A: Matt – Students and faculty don’t know or care about differences between presses. Amazon – recommendations, top-reviewed items in this area. Leslie – data driven acquisition (slip of questioner tongue) – this is possibly a way to go or a way to think about it.

Q: Faculty asking if we can get something as an ebook. Is it available? Who has it? Format? How will it be viewed? Where’s it hosted? IP authenticated? Purchase model? Multiple users? Single computer only?! Will this get better? A: Lisa – Complexities exist and in the near future this won’t change. Too many changes still in hardware, access methods. Leslie – we need to look more like Amazon and less like Apple? Apple only shows books that they have.