Exploring an e-book future (e-book lending models, copyright and other issues)

The e-book session was a tale of three parts.

Part One: Framing the challenge: transformation of the media market

Dan Mount (Civic Agenda) commented on the e-book market. He said the user expectation is e-books anywhere, anytime on any device. The music industry removed drm after it was a barrier to users and that if e-books did this it would allow de facto ownership. The licence would dictate the terms of use.

He asked the question of whether the e-book should be a product or a service? E-lending can equal more sales.
There is scope for libraries and publishers to work together to socialise the use of e-books

The publishers perspective – YS Chi (International Publishers Association)
Nine e-words to describe the publisher perspective:
Excess – available
Easy – content needs to be easy to find and access
Expansive – ebooks do not equal less work for publishers, even though there is no distribution or printing, the print books have not gone away. Publishers are running two models – print and digital – digital has required investment in digital infrastructure. The role of publishers has expanded.
Enigmatic – uncertainty about the future
Experimental – all stakeholders need to think out of the box
Experiential – augmented reality. The book can be interactive, refer to other content not just text.
Ephemeral – some predict the demise of e-books by 2017..
Empathy – more you understand what is going on in the market the more you can help your readers
Eternal – book is not going anywhere and this provides an opportunity to redefine what the book is
He closed by saying that more content is being made available – citing the example of Harper Collins to open up access to children’s books in September 2013.
The solution cannot be one size fits all.
“Fail often but fail early.”

Part Two: The challenge world wide – e-book licensing policy/principles/issues around the globe

We literally heard from all the regions around the world about the state of the e-book market. This was fascinating and our New Zealand perspective is similar to the Australian experience.

South America – a fairy tale for libraries. Broadband is expensive and less coverage. The Digital natives (young people) expect immediacy. The access for e-books restricted by licences.

Africa – uptake not reached any significant amount, they are starting to set up infrastructure and add to libraries. They have very little budget. Kenya first launched an ebook store in 2012.
The users have a fear of the unknown and have a high level of comfort with print. They lack affordable e readers and there is a lack of ebooks in their languages. They lack a legal framework and there are issues privacy and piracy.

Singapore– Asia is a diverse market – in Singapore English is the main language but Chinese, Tamil and Malay are supported in print form.
There is a lack of a mature ebook ecosystem and Amazon and Apple do not sell directly to Singapore.
There are few e-books published in Chinese Malay and Tamil.
Two ebook stores were or are run by
They work with aggregators but the full catalog is not always available in Singapore. an iPad.

Australia – e-books and e-lending are well established in higher education.
67% public libraries lend ebooks – 98% predicted to do so in the next two years. The barriers: budget, technology, licensing and content.
E-books make up less than 5% of loans.
79% of customers are unhappy with little access to best seller material.
Overdrive / Wheelers are the main aggregators and the 3MCloud is not available in Australia.
E-books lack availability, have a high cost, no certainty of supply, the kindle is not compatible, and they lack integration with library discovery.
Book industry collaborarative council – came up with principles for consistent models for the supply of ebooks to libraries.
1. Role of library in reading culture
2. Model for supply
3. Availability of supply
4. Continuity of access
5. E lending right
6. Pricing fair for libraries
7. Device neutrality

These principles have gone to the Australian government but the government has changed so the future of the principles is uncertain.

Europe – e-book market varies from 1% to 17%.
Law – problems include lending right, price fixing and legal uncertainty.
Dutch libraries have gone to court to ensure they can lend ebooks.
Germany – uses aggregators.
Needs a copyright framework for the digital world.

USA – Transformation of libraries is a key theme in 2015 strategic plan for libraries.
Issues included:
Print to digital collections
Lack of ebook content
Licensing vs ownership
Role of intermediaries – overdrive

ALA worked with publishers, authors and intermediaries.
Issues identified were user privacy, problems with library consortia participation, user interface clunky, often multiple formats and transfer of titles from one vendor to another if libraries swapped vendors.

Publishers had issues – they feared bad publicity, selling more ebooks meant making smaller profits, business models of print and digital do not mix.
Friction – ebook seen as frictionless. By friction in the print works a user would come to the library, try to find the book, it might be out, they place a hold, eventually get the book. At each point there is friction (which may cause the user to give up and buy the book instead). The e-book does not gave these friction points.
Publishers were worried about piracy and napster like endeavours from library users.

Part Three:  IFLA answers

E lending working group have established E-lending principles.
They started with a quote “Amara’s Law”. “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run”.
The e-book market is am emerging one.

IFLA World Library and Information Congress
79th IFLA General Conference and Assembly
17-23 August 2013, Singapore

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