15 considerations for libraries to buy and provide ebooks


Getting your ebooks bought by libraries can be a huge hill to climb.

A few days back I explained the problem just at my library in Novato, California, where of the six largest publishers in the U.S. only two will sell or lease ebooks to the county library, and of those one charges huge rates, the other has a use limit before the ebook is made unusable!

Here, let me summarize a report (from January 25, 2013) from the Digital Content & Libraries Working Group (DCWG) that discusses the 15 items in The Ebook Business Model Scorebook used to create library licensing agreements or contracts.

To read the full report see EBOOK BUSINESS MODELS: a scorecard for public libraries.

This report discusses what libraries must consider before they will license and agree to for the long-term, permanent purchase and use of ebooks. It also provides a preliminary look at how the current ebook situation might be resolved.

[In the coming weeks I will share what I can find out about how we, small or single-ebook publishers, can get our books used and purchased by libraries. That blog post will be found at this link.]

The current practice is one copy/one circulation at a time. This model-seeking scorebook seeks to find what terms would work best for libraries and publishers. What follows are the most favorable conditions that libraries are presently considering for ebook inclusion, use, and offering:

(1) All ebook content is offered.

(2) Libraries should have an option to effectively own the ebooks they purchase via licensing agreements.

(3) Libraries may transfer all ebook content to different library-designated platforms.

(4) The ebooks can be discovered within the library’s catalog and indefinitely checked out or reserved without undue complexity.

(5) For accessibility to people with disabilities, all ebook content is offered in fully implemented DAISY or PUB3 format.

(6) All ebook content is easily integrated into the library’s catalog.

(7) There would be some form of alternatives to the single-user model.

(8) There would be terms such as lease to purchase or the ability to sell items that don’t circulate.

(9) That all ebook content is offered at standard library discount (about 45%) from hardcover list.

(10) If an ebook is embargoed, all ebook content offered on a delayed basis is discounted.

(11) Premium access offered is at no more than twice the hardcover list.

(12) All ebook content is offered for remote circulation to duly registered borrowers of the library district.

(13) All ebook content is offered for consortia borrowing.

(14) all ebook content offered to the public is made available for discovery through the library including content not yet purchased by the library.

(15) all ebook content offered may have a buy-it link and revenues generated through the library link is shared with the library.

Why is it important that publishers of all sizes know this model-creating information provided by the American Library Association? So we know the likely conditions we may face in trying to sell our ebooks, solely or collectively, to libraries.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

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