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Ebook Trends: Info Pros Perspectives

Mar - 22 - 2012
Nicole C. Engard

Andy Woodworth was up first in the Ebook Trends talk. Andy’s talk was super fast and super awesome. I do hope that he shares his talk with us all so you can read that instead of my shortened summary.

Andy started by summing up his opinion of the current Ebook frontier as “Everything is amazing and no one is happy” He summed up all of the technology changes that have happened in our lifetime and that we take for granted.

What could possible be wrong with a product you don’t have to pay to print, don’t have to use gas to deliver and everyone from 4 to 400 can easily use?? Andy (appropriately) yelled the answer – EVERYTHING! Many publishers will not let libraries to lend they ebook content to start. It’s not that publishers don’t want library money, it’s that publishers do not trust our customers. While we try to uphold the policies of copyright, we can’t guarantee that our patrons will be honorable. The publisher things that they can then steal all of this content.

It all comes down to a problem with sharing! Not that we don’t share everything else everywhere else already. This is the horror that comes from breeding technology and culture together.

People are not waiting for libraries to solve the ebook lending problem – they’re coming up with their own ways to do it. We need to trust our users, we need to facilitate sharing. Every item that’s shared through your service is a book in a hand of someone who would otherwise be holding a competitors product.

Sarah Houghton was up next. Sarah started with some gratuitous cursing. Then we moved on to Sarah’s grandmother. She used to tell several lies to her grandchildren

  • Eat your crust it makes your hair curly
  • Only loose women get tattoos
  • Santa’s watching you

She had a tell whenever she lied – all the grandkids knew when she was lying because of the tells. Which brings us to some other lies that we’re being told:

Lies that library ebook vendors told you:

  • We’re broke:
    How many of you have indoor basketball courts in your library? Overdrive does.
  • 300% is as bad as it’s gonna get:
    It’s going to get worse before it gets better. It has to be so bad that the public starts to roar. If gas prices went up 300% there would be riots in the street
  • The publishers are forcing us to prevent you from owning these.
    Sarah has talked to the publishers – they actually don’t care.

There are lies that publishers tell us:

  • Libraries cost us money/steal our profits
  • Without digital rights management chaos will reign and no one will write anymore. (audience comment -we’re not doing it for the money)
  • Our business model has worked for hundreds of years and will work for hundreds more.
    It’s a failing business model.

We’re not without blame – lies we tell ourselves in libraries:

  • Everyone reads ebooks
    If you look at your circa stats you’re probably around 5-10%
  • We read our contracts and we negotiate hard
    “You don’t read your contract – most of you don’t.” Sarah says you need to learn to negotiate – take classes and learn legalese
  • Without ebooks our libraries will die
    We’re about communities and so much more than ebooks

Last up was Michael Porter (slides are on his site and slideshare). He started by asking us to think about what those before him said and what we all think. What used to make libraries work doesn’t make libraries work anymore. Michael feels that in the next 10 years the majority of content accessed in the library will be econtent not print materials. More and more people are using digital content already – we don’t buy as many CDs or DVDs anymore. I think that if we’re going to compete we have to find new solutions because what we have are broken.

“Libraries = Content + Community”

What we’re using now to facilitate the delivery of electronic content is broken. The current methods are very expensive, very inefficient and very unsustainable. We need something new and innovative.

Michael is here to represent a non profit (Library Renewal) made up of libraries who are trying to facilitate this change. He said it started with a question – what if we realized that we actually have control?

So Library Renewal is an organization that works on behalf of libraries to deal with the publishers. Right now we have vendors going in to secret meetings with the publishers to negotiate costs that benefit them – not us. And they are inviting libraries to come to Library Renewal and take back the control.

For the last 1.5 years they have been doing a lot of research at Library Renewal so they’ve been pretty quiet. They have been negotiating and building partnerships and developing solutions. At this point they are seeking funding to build the infrastructure.

The bottom line is that the system Library Renewal proposes will allow for more money for the rights holder and publishers and a huge savings for libraries.

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