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eBooks and Their Growing Value for Libraries (PART 1)

Chad Mairn, Amy Pawlowski, Sue Polanka, Ellen Druda

Amy: 1/5 of the US online population reads at least two books per month.  How are we going to capture that audience?  If you own a Kindle and download a book a week, you spend $500 a year on eBooks.  Where can you get them for free?  The library.  94% of academic libraries already offer eBooks.  By 2020 academic eContent expenditures will reach 80% of the collection budget.  67% of academic libraries either already offer or are planning to offer mobile device content and services.  In 2015, 25% of textbook revenue will be from digital textbooks.  Course management systems are a great way to embed our resources for students.  24/7 access is a huge boon for eContent.  eContent meets users where they are.  The eReader and tablet market is huge. 1/3 of US online customers will be using a tablet in the next few years.  Smart phones surpassed the sales of PCs on a quarterly basis.  The argument that eBooks are only for the people who can afford the devices is no longer salient.  Smart phone penetration is highest among ethnic minorities (Sarah’s Note: Socioeconomic status and ethnicity are not the same thing. I don’t understand the connection made here, and actually found it rather offensive.  It’s like saying “all the poor people in your communities are minorities.”)  Pricing models will change as the market grows.  HarperCollins was one of the first big publishers to start offering eBooks.  Things are going to change and we’re going to have to deal with it.  72% of libraries are offering eBooks, and the rest of the libraries should start thinking about it by grouping with a consortium locally.  If you have a collection and you’re not taking it seriously, you need to start.  If you don’t put new titles in there, people won’t come back to look at the collection.  Consider circulating devices.  Start planning for the future of eBooks now.

Sue: The future is not eBooks; it’s eContent.  If you have the opportunity to sit down and talk with a publisher, take advantage of the chance to tell them what’s not working.  There are two taskforces in ALA working on eContent, which we were encouraged to work with and follow.  Library Renewal is a group to be aware of – a non-profit organization founded by 5 librarians who feel very strongly about the future of digital content and the accessibility of this content to all of our users.  In Ohio, they purchase their digital content – they don’t license it.  They had to build a platform and host it themselves, which is a lot of work.  But it’s worth it to have ownership of the content.  Self-publishing is taking off.  How are we going to buy that content?  Open access is a huge opportunity for us as well.  And usher in digital textbooks.  The estimate is that the Kindle will be free by the end of this year.  Sony Reader has a library program with their readers.  Overdrive is developing an eReader Certification Program.

Ellen: eBook circulation has skyrocketed in libraries over the last few years as smart phones, tablets, and eReaders became popular devices.  At her library, the traditional book club members aren’t interested in eBooks and have trouble with the technology.  You have tech-savvy eBook readers, traditional print book readers, and everyone else somewhere in between.  Staff training was necessary for their library when they brought in eBook readers.  They had an Overdrive demo with various devices.  They did traditional marketing for eBooks: bookmarks, posters, banners, Twitter, Facebook, etc.  She mentioned the iDrakula app, a book turned into an app which came from a graphic novel originally.  They brought the author in via Skype for a back-and-forth with the library users who read the book.  Next month they’re doing a book discussion summit and trying to get traditional and eBook club members in one room.

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