Publishers Are Not the Enemy

by | Nov 8, 2017 | 0 comments


No fewer than 11 speakers participated in this 3-hour workshop; below is a list of them.

Publishers Not the Enemy--Agenda 1

Publislhers Not the Enemy-Agenda 2

Steven Harris reviewed what we said about eBooks. They are complex business. EBooks are a system business, not a gadget business, and there are many parts of it. The social aspect is a discourse analysis about librarians talking with publishers. Eli Neiburger,  said in 2010 at the LJ eBook Online Summit, “Libraries are screwed”. Matthew Bruccoli at Charleston in 2006 gave a presentation entitled “The End of Books and the Death of Libraries; eBooks are not things sitting one shelves. Cliff Lynch talked about “Faustian Bargains” in 2013. Using the Google ngram viewer, we find that the various representations of the term “ebook” has more or less standardized on “eBook”:

The Term "eBook"

Hypotheses: Librarians express negative feelings and a sense of powerlessness about eBooks. In a bibliometric study, Harris found most of the articles were about the market, and most articles were neutral and not especially negative. Here is an assessment from the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) showing that emotions were largely positive.

LIWC Analysis

Representative views in the late 1990s about eBooks were: “It’s too risky”, “Experimentation is necessary”, “We are not ready for eBooks yet”.

Future research includes a larger base of articles, more machine assessment, user ethnographic surveys, and librarian and publisher oral histories. On one hand, we want eBooks to be just like print books, and on the other, we want them to be different.

Jill Emery: User experience with evidence-based purchasing (EBS): Portland State and EBS purchasing for eBooks

Portland State and EBS Purchasing for eBooks

The plan with Elsevier appeared to be a quick decision; Its cost was over $50,000 that was funded by 1-time donation funds. Elsevier charged no access fees as long as POrtland State’s ScienceDirect subscription was maintained; otherwise there would be a 5% ongoing access fee with $0.81/download access. Overall usage was consistent, with a slight decline over time.  Cost/use was $45. Since 2011, usage has grown. High usage (defined as at least 10 downloads/year) has declined over the years and has become relatively constant. Lessons learned:

Lessons Learned

Other evidence-based plans will be explored in the future. A consortia plan with John Wiley was established: the library contributed some of the funding to support the plan because John Wiley’s content was the most used in the alliance.

Wiley Plan - 1

Wiley Plan - 2

All the same content will be maintained for 2018.

Ryan Johnson: WRLC (Washington Research Library Consortia–9 libraries in DC and Northern VA) Collaborative Collections and Oxford Scholarship Online.

The 2016 goal was one collection across 9 campuses. Storage of print monographs. Spend funds differently, and avoid duplication across the consortium. Leverage resources and coordinate with each other.

Current projects: ProQuest Academic Complete, Springer behavioral science collection, JSTOR DDA, Oxford Scholarship Online.

Oxford scholarship had the most overlap in the consortium, which wanted eBooks plus print copies. The difficult part was pricing, which was based on what was spent in 3 years. New books were collected and stored in shared storage facility; they never go to a library.  Circulation was over 1,400 volumes, 4,396 chapter downloads across the consortium.

Ongoing issues

  • Need to assess usage after 3 years to determine value
  • Getting consortial usage is a challenge, I
  • Inconsistent MARC record delivery (particularly for eBooks).

Andrew Smith: Engaging with librarians to create more flexible eBook products

Emerald has been well known as a journals publisher, but it also publishes books.

Emerald as a Books Publisher

One can purchase eBooks from the front list, or from the archive that goes back to 1991. In a new approach to product development, they worked as a team and used an end-to-end process, which is an agile approach to development. With this approach, a 3 month project was completed in 6 weeks.

Inputs: Analyzing global feedback was not as easy as originally thought. They wanted to understand how their portfolio would fit with libraries. Issues with user feedback included how to collect it, how to prioritize, and what happens to the feedback? To solve these problems, they assembled communities of practice together, and then did research and design “sprints” in the areas shown here.


A pilot was designed for those who had expressed interest, and trials of flexible eBook bundles of 50, 100, etc. were done, in which the customer could select any books from the platform. 2nd phase: automated flexible eBook products, evidence based acquisition, flexible purchase options for consortia.

Charles Watkinson discussed OA monographs and library/press collaboration. OA is always a disruptor. Many of the University of Michigan Press’s books are OA. There are many flavors of OA and many types of library involvement.

Many Types of OA

None of the funding models are dominant; most of the publishers are using a “magpie” model. Crowd funded models are frequently done using these two platforms.

Crowd Funded

13 institutions have said they will fund 3 publications/year for each faculty member. Libraries are sometimes involved in this effort, and in come cases the funding comes through the library. One question is how much is the right amount to ask the publisher for.

Beyond the money:

  1. Intellectual property–see the Model Publishing Contract.
  2. Digital preservation: Fulcrum is a platform of companion websites to books
  3. OA discovery:   See “Mapping the free ebook supply chain” which covers how eBooks are being funded and used, as well as alternative supply chains.

Christian Box: Developing a New eBooks Program: The original Institute of  Physics (IOP) book program was sold to Taylor & Francis which launched an eBook program in 2013. As of now, 190 eBooks have been published, and have attracted 701 customers, and 1.2 million downloads. There are now 4 advisory boards that hold annual meetings. There are about 12 members on a board, which amounts to a total of 89 librarians from 91 institutions in 30 countries.

Why are they interested in eBooks?

  • Discoverability, convenience, simultaneous users, usage statistics. eBooks don’t spoil.
  • They are optimized for desktop, mobile, tablet, have multimedia and interactivity, embedded sound and video, interactive Q&A,  and interactive figures.
  • Digital utilities

Lessons learned:

  1. Start the conversation with the library advisory boards at an early stage.
  2. Consider big questions (Should we launch an eBook program?) as well as detail questions (How should we deliver MARC records?).
  3. Get into each other’s shoes and understand each other’s perspective: the library as a publisher, publisher as a librarian. (sample questions: should we charge platform fees?, collections vs. pick and choose)
  4. It’s not what people say but the way they say it.

Lessons Learned

Kate Hill: Let’s market eBooks with vendors!

Best practices for eBook marketing and case study discussion. The Carolina Consortium had over 36 subscribers to the Academic EBook subscription platform and got lots of data. Asked librarians their best practices questions.

Best Practices

All the libraries with the best usage had integrated the eBooks into their discovery platform so that students could find them.

All vendors were working closely with EBSCO to support discovery. Libraries took advantage of what the vendors had put into their systems and put the login to EBSCO Host on their front page; they did not try to create everything on their own. Many people don’t use what the vendor provides. Most of the top user schools were focused on OERs. One university bookstore put a link to the library’s website on its website pointing out that they had the printed book but the eBook was available from the library.

The library worked with Wiley, Springer, and Taylor & Francis to ensure they got DRM-free access with unlimited usage. In return, they agreed to give preference to them in purchasing decisions, which resulted in a lot of usage.

Many publishers have graphic designers who will help you develop your marketing materials. Vendors want you to use their material to increase usage. Interoperability is very important to have flexible records.

Liz Siler: EBooks as course titles.

Libraries and publishers need to start talking to each other more to understand the issues they both face and work together for everyone’s benefit. Textbook prices have increased exponentially over the past several years.  If libraries buy textbooks DRM-free with perpetual access, they can provide them to students at more reasonable prices.

What Libraries are Doing

Books that libraries purchase are generally not money makers for bookstores. Libraries are giving small grants to faculty members as an incentive to offer their books to students as course materials. An e-textbook database contains everything the library owns or can purchase.

Publisher concerns

Can libraries and publishers work together?

  • Package purchasing
  • Class sized-based purchasing in which the publisher provides access to a title used in a course and the university gives them the amount of money that they would get if every student bought that title. After several semesters the publisher gets full revenue because some students (some studies show that 40%) won’t buy the book and the university gets a good deal.
  • Usage-based purchasing: Publishers hold back titles from their packages because they think the title is used in a class and will sell well. If a title is adopted, the library will pay for additional copies based on usage. The issue is when has the library paid enough for a title.

Amy Filiatreau: The Lynn University Digital Press: One of the greatest things at Lynn

Students worry more about textbook costs than tuition. The textbook cartel must be stopped!

Textbook Costs

Lynn University launched an iPad initiative: faculty are writing their own iBooks, got a stipend, students get books for free. Students feel the iPad contributes to their learning and say this is the best thing about Lynn. There was bad writing and disorganization so they created the digital press.

Faculy-Authored iBooks

They are now doing peer review. This program has been successful; there are now 45 iBooks in use, and many more are on the way. Textbook costs have been dramatically reduced, and Lynn has been recognized as an Apple Distinguished School twice in a row, so the Lynn Digital Press was born.

Lynn Digital Press

The library bought a copy of every textbook and made them available on 3-hour loan, which has been very popular with students who can scan pages they need. For just 1 book, they saved students $90,000. Challenges included making faculty and students aware of the service, overdue items, working with the bookstore to order the right books, and faculty not adopting the right books on time.

Rick Misra, Elsevier. ScienceDirect Topics: Integrating content to empower knowledge.

When users come across an unfamiliar term, they go to Wikipedia. Here are some user needs and insights:

User Needs and Insights

Users need to stay up to date, do interdisciplinary work, and conduct research. Analytics can be used to tell a story and identify gaps to enable sales and develop an acquisition strategy.

Use of analytics

Kari Paulson presented a case study on collaboration using the introduction of eTextbooks into Western Sydney University (WSU).  She noted that publishers are not the enemy, and neither are the vendors. Aggregators also play an important role. They are not the creators or rights holders, but they bring things together and provide efficiency. Increasingly they have become aggregators of workflow. They bring a better experience to students and end users, and better understanding.

WSU decided to offer eTextbooks on its eBook Central platform to all first-year students as a pilot.eBook Central

More than 10,000 students received free digital textbooks worth up to $800. The cost of textbooks was one of the key challenges to the university. WSU called the program the next phase of an extensive student-centered program providing the highest quality educational experience. Content can be accessed anywhere and used on any device. The program was paid for through the marketing department.

WSU came to ProQuest even though they had relationships with publishers, but because of deadlines and size of the project they used an aggregator. They wanted the funding to go towards buying content, not to hiring staff to run the program internally.  Course materials included 180 digital textbooks from 60 publishers; if a textbook was not available digitally, they chose another one, which motivated publishers to create books digitally. ProQuest could help with the licensing requirements.

This project gave students a consistent experience and robust administrative tools for the library, which got a single point to manage the program, rich usage data, and user analytics.

Admin tools

Usage exceeded expectations: the higher user engagement- was great for students, publishers, and the faculty. Instructors could engage with students in meaningful ways. Publishers got deeper insight into student engagement trends.

The value of ProQuest is through curation and connecting, and better analytics.

Why ProQuest



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