BEA: Tomorrow’s Library in the World of Digits

DSCF1005.JPGNora Rawlinson, Early Word; Michael Santangelo, Brooklyn Public Library; Steve Potash, Overdrive; Stephen Rind-Tutt, Alexander Street Press; Daniel Oblong, Sony Electronics

Potash: services are evolving as more new devices are released. Success of library ebooks is a result of the librarian directing the priorities, not he provider. Publishers have one singular interest, revenue. What I’ve listened to for 10 years from publishers: people get books at libraries at libraries for free and that permeates a significant majority of publishing community – they don’t understand libraries and value of libraries. White paper available on the Early Word website on how ebooks and libraries grow sales. Public library catalog is a major source of people buying books at retail stores. Publishers uncomfortable with libraries having reciprocal borrowing privileges, consortia, etc. Publishers paranoid about a statewide library system that buys only 20 copies of an ebook. Public library represents 50% of market in US and audiobook publishers “get it”, but newer ebook publishers don’t. Library bin software will allow library customer to acutally buy an ebook on the library site. Will be a revenue opportunity for library, but primarily done to show publishers proof that libraries can promote ebooks and can add value to publishers. Public library downloadable ebooks do not contribute to piracy according to studies he was involved in. Publishers don’t understand how to price ebooks to libraries.

Santangelo: use Overdrive – most resources go there; NetLibrary – putting less resources into it; adding reference ebooks; and added first major streaming project Music On Line. Integrated downloadable collection more and more into regular collection. Of downloadables 56% ebooks, 32% eaudio. Had to move from seeing this stuff as a technology to seeing it as a collection. Purchasing more ebooks than eaudio. Usage keeps going up, 80% increase in last couple of years. Libraries are becoming “IT” services for consumers and they need to train their own people better.

Rawlinson: Kindle started to get libraries concerned because they don’t have access to it. Libraries don’t have access to the iPad either. Macmillan CEO sees ebooks as different from print books in libraries and ebooks are too easy to get from libraries and libraries don’t have to replace them later either. Sargent of Macmillan is evidently having a private meeting with librarians at BEA.

Rhind-Tutt: libraries doing this for a long time, since at least 1966 with the ERIC database. Number of pricing models has proliferated, in 1997 were 125 models many used in combination with over 16,000 types of price. But in the end the bottom of all the models is negotiation to get to the lowest price. Dialog should be about finding the right price, not finding the best model. Electronic journals vs. books: cost per patron for single article is $0.002 while with a book is over $20, don’t know what the ebook price is because the pricing not firmed up. Frightening thing is that most publishers are pricing ebooks with a paper book model. Market forces are pushing publishers to portals. Since ebooks will never cost more than pbooks, portals may be the way to go for publishers because that is the way they can add improved performance and features. Portals may end up being the cheapest way to go and may be the least threatening to publishers. Providing hand-crafted databases can give a lot more than straight ebooks.

Oblong: libraries still trying to figure out what they want to be to their patrons in the digital area. Library community has been interested in digital from the earliest stages of Sony entering the arena.

1 Comment on BEA: Tomorrow’s Library in the World of Digits

  1. DensityDuck // May 27, 2010 at 3:08 pm //

    One thing that they’ll have to do, if they want to keep libraries alive, is do something about the de facto library status of modern bookstores. Right now I can go in, grab any book off the shelf, read it cover-to-cover there in the store, and nobody will say “boo” to me so long as I buy coffee and a muffin.

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