June 11th, 2010 Brian Herzog
I'm at the Portland (ME) Public Library today, for the ebook workshop from the New England Library Association's IT Section.
I'll be live-blogging, so check back for updates, and also follow others with #nela on Twitter.
Notes from Elizabeth Thomson
- Idea for using ereaders in libraries: buy one for the ILL department, for them to download public domain books to and loan, instead of the patron waiting weeks to request all those out-of-print books from far-away libraries.
- Idea for doing ebook collection development: buy the trash romance or how-to sex manuals that someone would by too embarrassed to buy or check out or be seen reading on the subway
- "The Kindle is about reading, not the device." It seems to me the iPad is the opposite - it needs to dazzle people with movement and flashy colors, which either enhances the text, or terminally distracts from it, depending on your point of view.
- Ebooks needs a business models - publishers, bookstores, libraries need their own. People buying print books because they feel guilty or don't want bookstores/libraries to die out is not a business model. People will do what's most convenient in the end, regardless of how they feel.
Notes from Tom Corbett, Cushing Academy
- Libraries need to be in the reading an research (information) business, not the book inventory business (just like people who used to be in the horse and buggy business instead of the transportation business went out of business)
- Cushing's logic: books are no longer the best approach for their goal (supporting 9-12 students), library staff were focus on the wrong skills (inventory management rather than information access and aggregating data), provide 21st century education with 21st century tools (kids also learn how to use technology, which is important for the future)
- "It's not information overload, it's filter failure"
- Brutal Facts:
- Most high quality information will never be free
- Information in the 21st century is almost entirely created and delivered digitally
- By it's nature digitization ties information technology and information literacy together
- The filters and skills need to successfully navigate the digital world are not the same as the pre-digital world
- Libraries need Digital Rights Management (DRM)
- There will be a better medium for reading than paper (it's the content, not the paper)
- It doesn't really matter what libraries think. Markets happen. (Kindle is Amazon's #1 best-selling and highest-rated product)
- Digital content delivery should be "just in time" not "just in case" (which is what print is, and also Overdrive's model of collection-development-by-ownership) - focus on managing access, not managing collection inventory
- EBook Library gets it right with "non-linear lending" - you get access to hundreds of thousands of titles, and libraries pay rental fee when the book is checked out (also option to buy if a title is heavily used). You get X number of hours of book use, which can be mixed and matched amongst titles that get used - you pay for the use of your patrons, not an inventory of ebooks
Notes from Jeffrey Mayersohn, Harvard Book Store
Speaking about the Espesso print-on-demand machine. This is the way of the future, because Amazon has way more inventory than can be kept in a single location.
But the single location is the advantage that bookstores have - local staff, local interest, and with print-on-demand, local production of that same large inventory. Use bookstore shelves to be well-curated showroom.
Books never die, because with print-on-demand, everything stays in print. Also much easier for new authors to promote their self-published books.
- 1/3 (about 34) of Espresso machines are in libraries (many also in academic book stores)
- Replace copies for very old, out-of-print copies
- Provide copies of rare book collections to patrons
- Full color interiors
- Expanded public domain access
- Expand access to "current" books
- Continued publishing of local authors
Notes from Emily Smith, Belmont Public Library
Donor provided 16 Kindles to circ at library
How we circ:
- 14 days, 1 renewal (same as book)
- Local requests only, check in and out at Belmont circ desk only - must turn it on to see it works at check out and check in
- 1 per person, $1 fine per day, $259 replacement cost, $15 charger, $35 cover
- No age restriction, but we mostly buy non-kids title to limit kid interest, and circ them from the adult section
- Circ in padded bag with charger, laminated policy, Kindle with leather cover, Getting Started guide
- Put VHS box on shelf with titles listed on back, and when someone wants Kindle they bring the box to the circ desk, where Kindles are kept
- Purchase alerts, holds list, bestseller lists
- 75% fiction
- Amazon requires credit card to purchase, which the library doesn't have, so we have corporate account (which is paid via purchase order and gift cards and person account - it is complicated)
- We deregister when it circs, and ask patrons not to register to their account (which they can do, and add content, but if it doesn't get deregistered then other patrons can buy books on that first patron's account
- Turning it on/off has been a challenge for some patrons - switch is very small. Some patrons put it to sleep rather than turning it off, and screen saver kills the battery
- Some patrons delete books accidentally - library can get the books back free, but it is a pain
- 5-way control is difficult to use, but people eventually figure it out
- Doesn't work with Overdrive, not all titles are available through Amazon, and not all titles have text-to-speech
- Be sure to get the 2-year extended warranty, which makes replacing damaged devices easier
Notes from Gerry Deyermond, Memorial Hall Library (Andover, MA)
Use Audible.com for eAudio digital audiobooks, and circ library's Otis players as well as download to patrons' devices.
Most users are 40+. Patrons can request downloads by email, and work out time with staff when to come in to download. Use Excel to track circulation (players circ for 3 weeks).
MVLC also uses Overdrive - this has picked up the slack for patrons who can't get to the library Almost 10,000 iPod-compatible book circs since 9/2009; almost 1,000 ebook downloads since 5/2010.
Notes from Chris Cooper, Southern New Hampshire University
Use 2-pronged approach to ebooks
- Ebook Downloads for popular works: Sony eReady and Kindle, patron-driven - library will buy any book under $25
- Ebook Databases for academic/professional titles: databases such as NetLibrary, Books 24x7, Sarafi Tech Books, ACLS Humanities ebooks to support business, IT psychology and other programs
- Successes: Positive publicity (mentioned on campus tour), efficient use of funds, broad popular content availability, show engagement with technology
- Challenges: Consumer product, work flow issues (only tech services can load books, which slows things down), rarely find academic titles students need, number of units (5 kindles, 2 eReaders), registration, damage to devices
- Successes: 24x7 remote access, professional publications, up-to-date and complete (no missing CDs), integration with the catalog (easier to find), e-reserve, full-text searchable (huge advantage for research)
- Challenges: DRM eccentricities (each database is different, none are very good), multiple interfaces (patrons want content, so unfamiliar interfaces are a barrier and we lose people), cost (always have annual contracts - difference between owning content and buying access to content), finding specific titles (we can always find content, but not always exactly what they want)
Questions and Answers from Panel Discussion
Any childrens books on ebooks? Like Tumblebooks?
Belmont didn't put them on, because we want adults to be more careful with the devices. Nashua uses Tumblebooks and people like them. Cushing still actively collects print picture books.
Do teachers "silo" their class material and not use library eresources?
They do, because they always have, but we're working with them to show them how they can use ereserve and other tools for class. The focus needs to be on the students, and what works best for them.
Do people purchase or lease Espresso machine?
Harvard Book Store leased it, but other people buy them. However, there are also leasing companies.
How has the School Library Association viewed what is happening at Cushing?
They're both skeptical and interested, and want feedback on how it goes.
What kind of budget does Cushing have?
The space redesign and purchase of ereaders came out of the capital budget, not library budget. This year the econtent budget is coming from the library budget. It all happened before Tom was there, so not sure of the figure, but it's hundred of thousands of dollars.
If students have their own laptops/devices, why does the library offer ereaders?
Kindles only do reading, whereas other devices have lots of distractions built-in, and we want to focus on literacy.
How have faculty accept the change, technically?
To do this well, the administration must require adoption, but there was a lot of buy-in from faculty. There is also ongoing back-and-forth discussion, so we're all working together to meet the goal requirement.
By deauthorizing Kindles, does that turn off Amazon's big brother aspect or monitoring, and can use track highlighting and other activity for statistics?
We delete most patron activity, and never thought to track it.
Do you backup Kindle books?
Once you register a Kindle, all the books stay in your account and you can download them as many times as you want. You can backup locally on your server, but you need to sync it to your computer, and is just more difficult that relying on Amazon.
How do you provide students access to color content, like graphic novels?
We don't really - we never had much of a graphic novels collection and students haven't asked. But it's a trade off, because there are things the devices let you do that can't be done with print.
Espesso machine - what is the cost, and is there a backlog?
Cost of each book depends on source - publisher books (in copyright) are same price as book on the shelf (machine does this automatically, and store loses money on some books); for Google books we charge $8.00, which averages 400 pages, so we were losing money so now it depends on page count - $10-$20 average cost now; self-published set price with author, usually $9 cost and $15 retail, which is better for authors than they would get with a publisher. You can also order online and we will delivery locally via bike-delivery
Do Kindles need certain staff to make them work?
Only for downloading and fixing - check in and out goes through the circ desk so any staff can do it, including the 4-5 minute demo of how it works and checking to see if the titles are there
Are you concerned about the lack of physical ownership of Kindle content, and whether you'll be able to use it in the future?
Belmont: not really, because all the titles we have we also own in print, and are popular, so we think that when the interest in these titles die off, we won't need them any more
SNHU: We expect that to be the case, and it's all about cost - if we get the value out of the book via circs, we don't worry about the future
Cushing: We don't worry about it
What percentage of SNHU is eresources? And is it growing to accommodate Cushing students who expect digital resources?
Databases and downloads are right about the same, but nothing drastic is happening - print is staying steady.
What factors drive book sales for Harvard Book Store?
The general economy is very noticeable in the bookstore, but sales have increased each month this year. I haven't noticed any real affect with the advent of ebook readers - most customers say they like books, but use ebooks for travel (so in that respect it is a niche product). Sales of new hard covers (the most expensive) are the sales that are increasing. Our author events (over 200/year) really drive sales - not unusual to draw 600 people - authors can't sign ebooks
Libraries can offer more than one device, as a way to allow patrons to try the technology and use Overdrive titles.
April 29th, 2010 Brian Herzog
I was at MLA2010 yesterday and participated in a panel discussion of Top Tech Trends (it was good, and if I find the other talks online I'll link to them). The two trends I chose aren't exactly new, but are two things I think will have an impact at the reference desk. They deal with ownership of the resources we offer to the public.
[note: this post might not be news to anyone, but the links from which I drew my information are worth reading]
Trend One: Subscription Databases
This has been a pretty happy segment of the library world for a long time, and libraries probably are familiar and comfortable with subscribing to and offering this kind of content. But in the last couple years, new exclusive deals signed between publishers and database vendors has limited access to many popular periodicals (this also happened last year with Consumer Reports).
EBSCO was the focus of much criticism, but Library Journal reports that the publishers are also interested in exclusive contracts. I don't mean to vilify them, because businesses will always act in their own self-interest. But I couldn't tell what bothered me more: loss of access to these periodicals, or corporate press releases [pdf] saying these contracts were in libraries' best interest - there is a difference between "all libraries" and "libraries that are our customers," which is a distinction database vendors don't seem to make.
We non-customers can't afford to keep buying more and more subscriptions because these exclusive deals demand it, so our patrons lose out. The bottom line is that it took resources away from many libraries, and I'm sure this isn't the end of it.
Trend Two: Ebooks
People might be sick of hearing about ebooks* already. However, since it contains the word "books," there is a natural expectation for libraries to offer them, so you can either jump or be dragged into this discussion.
The problematic trend is that the "e" part of ebooks makes them an entirely different animal from print books. Lots of people are trying to figure out how libraries can offer them to patrons, but ebooks have the potential to drastically change the publishing industry (including a power struggle within the distribution chain), and there's no nice model right now that seems to include libraries.
Another problem (for libraries) is that the two most talk-about ebooks readers (the Kindle and the iPad) are also the most restrictive. Like publishers and database vendors, Amazon and Apple are companies acting in their own self-interest, and what they're interested in is sales. Their tactic to maximize their sales is to control where the customers can get ebooks - which excludes libraries.
At least right now: the same thing was true with the iPod and Overdrive audiobooks - when we initially signed up with Overdrive, they did not work on the iPod (which is what all of our patrons had). Eventually Apple relented, so I'm hopeful they'll also eventually open up the iPad to outside ebook sources.
However, there is a case to be made that the iPad is not designed for reading anyway.
Statistics for the Future
Ebooks are popular, but right now they only account for 2-5% of overall book sales. That seems small, but library sales are about 4%. Ebook sales will definitely grow, whereas library sales probably will not. Since the future of ebooks will hinge on decisions made by businesses, libraries will need to speak up to make sure we have a role in this market.
Bonus Trend: HTML5
Something I forgot to mention in my talk also related to the iPad: watching videos online using Flash might be a thing of the past, because the iPad does not support Flash (per Steve Jobs). Instead, the iPad is looking to HTML5, and so is Google. The most obvious impact will be in Flash-based like Youtube and Hulu, but it's worth reading about HTML5 to get an idea of what the web might look like in the next few years.
*I don't know if there is an official style guide for these things, but I decided to always spell "ebooks" the same way I spell "email." If it starts a sentence the first letter gets capitalized, but otherwise it's always all in lowercase, as opposed to eBooks, e-books, etc.
Tags: 2010, annual, conference, content, ebooks, exclusive, html5, ipad, kindle, libraries, Library, massachusetts library association, mla2010, ownership, public, tech, trends
March 25th, 2010 Brian Herzog
I usually don't like just reposting things unless I have something intelligent to say about it. Regardless, here are a few news stories I noticed recently that seem to be flying under the radar (intelligent commentary optional):
The Life of Raj Patel
Sure you've heard of Raj Patel and his books The Value of Nothing and Stuffed and Starved - but did you know he is the messiah?
Neither did he, but the folks of Share International are treating him like Brian, despite his denials, because they know Only the true Messiah denies His divinity. (via)
Two Overdrive stories: one about LEAP, their New Program for Visually Impaired Readers, and another about a program to Offer Honor System eBook Lending for Libraries, so no DRM. Both worth investigating.
Free Music, as in Free Lunch, as in No Such Thing
Also on the DRM theme is a Library Journal article about a new music service called Freegal, from Library Ideas, LLC and Sony. Interesting in that this service will
- have no DRM, just plain old mp3 files
- require no content manager software
- trust people to follow copyright law, instead of just assume they're criminals
- charge libraries per download, rather than an annual subscription (or rather, a "minimum annual commitment" which can be managed on a weekly basis)
All good news, but I'm curious to see how the pricing model works - it's not like anything else used in libraries, is it? And who out there thinks a website called "freegal" might get blocked by sex filters?
What Do You Know About Knowr.com?
Not a news story, but I got a press release about Ooga Labs' new Knowr.com, billed as a "Question and Answer site that ties to the users social graph ... to create a vibrant knowledge network." What I liked about it is their approach:
At first, we had thought that people ... could use our service to share what they know with each other, both within their own particular industries, and in exciting, boundary crossing ways. With a little research, we saw that these groups already have vibrant communities online.
Then we quickly noticed teens and other Facebook super users are using services like this to conduct informal interviews of each other and celebrities.
I'm not entirely sure what it does, or why, or that it isn't already being done, but I did like that they decided to use existing web platforms (in this case, Facebook) to integrate with, instead of building a whole new networking tool. Good approach.
However, since it requires a Facebook account, that leaves me out.
Tags: drm, ebooks, freegal, knowr, leap, libraries, Library, news, overdrive, public, raj patel
March 16th, 2010 Brian Herzog
I've had ebooks on the brain lately for a few reasons, so I thought I'd pull together some resources I've been bookmarking.
But first, my reasons:
- My consortium will soon be offering ebooks via Overdrive. This is good, as Overdrive ebooks are compatible with Sony Reader and the Nook, but will still include existing Overdrive drawbacks
- The IT Section of the New England Library Association is devoting our spring workshop to ebooks. Speakers will range from libraries already circulating ebooks and ereaders to a certain library that made waves by going digital to a book store that takes digitized books and makes them print again. It will be a great day, and I'll post more details soon.
Ebooks are certainly in the cards for libraries, and hopefully not like these comic strips. In no particular order, here are a few ebook-related links worth reading:
Ebook Reader Reviews and Guides and Deconstruction
A nice introduction to ereaders and ebooks, "7 Things You Should Know About E-Readers," from EDUCAUSE, focusing on teaching and learning:
Reviews of ereaders from various sources:
The eBook Buyer's Guide to Privacy from the EFF talks about how each of the most popular ebook readers rate as far as privacy, tracking of purchases, sharing of information, etc.
I've seen a little discussion on the topic of "why digital," and this is a good evaluation of how and when and why technology matches content:
Ebook Price Wars
This is worth watching, because low prices means lots of people purchased the hardware, but rising prices means people will be coming to the library for ebooks instead of purchasing the content themselves.
Ebooks for Downloading
A few places where people can download ebooks for free - please list additional resources in the comments.
Of course, as soon as I finish typing this post, I'm going to pick up the old-fashion made-of-paper book I'm reading and enjoy flipping through the pages.
Tags: book, Books, e-book, e-books, e-readers, ebook, ebooks, libraries, Library, non-print, public, readers
January 19th, 2010 Brian Herzog
Here are a few random notes from the weekend - the best part of the conference is talking with other librarians, and of course the free stuff.
Apps: Past or Future?
Despite not having a cell phone, I still ended up talking a lot about apps at the show. Gale has a great approach for AccessMyLibrary. Check out the Librarian in Black's writeup, but what I liked about it is the geolocation authentication: it shows you all libraries within 10 miles, and lets you into their (Gale) database - no typing in library card numbers.
At the LibraryThing party, there was lots of talk about LT's new Local Books app. Some people loved it, and some people didn't (especially the Android user I talked to, who couldn't find one for his phone). This also led to an interesting discussion on whether or not apps are even needed - one theory was that if the mobile version of your website is good enough, then you shouldn't need a separate app. Therefore, a good app does some kind of mashup not possible on the website.
Then again, I also heard that apps are on their way out in 2010.
eBooks: Present and Future
This is an area I've been paying attention to, and I still learned a lot. The eBooks that Overdrive offers are in epub and pdf formats, and circulate just like their audio books. But the best part is that they work on the Sony Reader and Nook - I did not know that. Apparently they have lots of both fiction and non-fiction titles, so I'm going to explore this avenue for my library.
Gale also offers eBooks, but I forgot to ask about the format. What I did like was that they aren't limited to one user at a time - they were more like a database, where anyone can log in, search and use them.
I also saw a demo of B&T's new eBook software, Blio (pronounced blee-O). I kept hearing they were coming out with something great, but I thought it was a physical eBook device - it's not, it's just the software. But the software really was pretty great:
- will work on computers and mobile devices
- it does full-color
- videos embedded in books (so a book on the circulation system shows videos of how the body works)
- quizzes in books for review
- text-to-speech in multiple voices, so different characters have different voices
- can highlight words as it reads, or will pronounce words you click on (to help kids or ESL students learn to read)
- has full-spread view of kids picture books (so it looks the same on screen as in print, with all the pictures and text - the pages even flip as if you were holding the book)
They're concentrating on the consumer version first - the software is free, but it sounded like books will be on the expensive end, due to the enhanced content. Whenever I asked a library-specific question, the answer I got was, "oh, we're still working on the details of the library model."
So, yay for a successful conference. And in this case, successful = two shirts, three books, earbuds, notebook, pencils, pins, and lots of candy.
July 21st, 2009 Brian Herzog
Hopefully by now everyone has read David Pogue's NYT article about Amazon deleting Orwell's books from its customers' Kindles. Even though it's been covered elsewhere, I wanted to throw in my two cents.
First, yes, it was shocking Amazon did this. Not that they could do it, but that, 1) they felt it was necessary, and 2) they just went ahead and did it. @librarythingtim linked to a good explanation of the whys and wherefores.
Hopefully libraries considering adding Kindles to their collections will take note. I'm not against ebooks, but I think too many people equate them physical books - and they are not that.
They are information, and libraries are right to pay attention to them. But customers, obviously, don't own them in the same sense they own a physical book. Ebook vendors have gone out of their way to convince us of this, but DRM technology is simply designed to the contrary.
In the library world, ebooks are more akin to databases than real books. We have access, not ownership. Database contents and interfaces change beyond our control (although usually we're notified first), but we're okay with that, because we understand that. Overdrive downloadable audiobooks are very similar - Overdrive says we "own" the books we buy from them, but if we ended our contract and lost access to their interface (or they went out of business), how useful would those ebooks be?
So I think it's the same with the Kindle. It's a technology not at all designed for libraries anyway, but lots of patrons are asking about it. However, what would library staff say to the patron who brought in their on-loan Kindle to complain that 1984 is just gone?
Or worse, what if down the road Amazon decides it doesn't like libraries loaning Kindles loaded with books, and just shuts down libraries' accounts and deletes their books? It might credit the money to their accounts, but is that only good towards the Kindle Store? And what could the library do with their expensive, empty gadgets?
But I do think libraries need to try to make this work. We just need to recognize that we have very little control in this arena. And then, we can develop policies and procedures around it, or we can work to change it. I vote for change.