Category Archives: E-books & Reading

Meeting Reader Expectations for Content – Giving Them the E-Books They Want…

Don’t miss this by Brian Kenney:

That strategy seems to represent a new chapter in a debate public librarians in America have had for 150 years: should we be providing our readers with the material they want, or should we be providing books we think they should read? Because, however noble DCL’s motivation is for its model, when it comes to e-books, the system is pushing its patrons to read something other than what they want to read. It’s back to the 19th century, Kindle in hand.

Of course, in DCL’s defense, much of this is out of its hands: only two of the big six offer their full catalogues to libraries, and in those cases they do so under lending restrictions, or very high prices. “We can’t be held hostage to vendors,” LaRue says, and “ownership” of the libraries’ content is the bedrock of DCL’s model.

But at this moment in nascent e-book history, is “ownership” really so vital? Is it really practical for public libraries to try to reform the publishing business by rerouting our patron demand? Or do we risk losing patrons dissatisfied with our digital offerings?

It is a complex question. I believe that part of the promise of digital content for libraries lies in experimentation, and that the ownership model, necessary for research libraries, may not suit public library needs any longer. Shouldn’t public library collections be dynamic and ever-changing? Does any public library really need to own an e-book it plans to discard in three years? Or 48 digital copies of Gone Girl?

One of the great opportunities for public libraries in the digital world is that they should be able to continuously recreate their collections, at a reasonable cost—without the expense of housing, materials handling, weeding, and discarding.

LaRue concedes he would entertain other ways to do business—like pay per use—provided he could still purchase copies for his “long-tail” catalogue. “But,” he adds, “that model doesn’t exist.” In a world where a digital copy of a book can be acquired in minutes, however, doesn’t the long-tail catalogue get to be pretty short?

Read the whole thing…so nice to be reminded of the Charles Robinson philosophy in the midst of all the e-book hoopla!

If you read anything about e-books this winter, read this…

Brian Kenney writes his first Publishers Weekly column:

What do I want to come in 2013? What I want is simple: more chaos.

I have no interest in trying to replicate our old print models or owning e-books. I’m enough of a librarian to want someone out there to maintain a permanent copy—but please don’t make it be me. My collection is dynamic and ever changing. There are few titles I want to access after three years, fewer still after eight. I want business models that will support this fluidity. I actually like the model created by HarperCollins—once reviled, now our BFF—but I would welcome different models. I’ll entertain paying per use or licensing for a year—or five years.

Unglue: Giving books to the world by crowd funding – A TTW Guest Post by Jan Holmquist

The most democratic book project I know is about to relaunch – Here is an article I wrote for the German library magazine BUB as member of the Zukunftentwicklers network – With a few corrections because a lot has happened with since the deadline:

What is crowd funding and what does it mean to unglue?

To unglue a book means that you buy the rights to the book and then pass them on by giving the book to the world for free to read in any e-book format and on any device – without DRM or time restrictions under a creative commons license. But you don’t do it alone. You chirp in a little and so does a lot of other people who think it is important to free the same book. This is called crowd funding. When you crowd fund (and unglue) the project you support has a deadline and the money needed must be raised before the end of this deadline or the project fails. If the money is not raised before the deadline – you don’t loose your money – because the amount you pledge is not drawn from your account unless all the money needed is raised.

The good thing about as I see it is that everyone is a winner. The author gets paid for his work and the world gets unlimited access to the book – What’s not to like about it? I think is the most democratic book project you can imagine.
The first book has already been unglued and is therefore yours too – it is “Oral Literature In Africa” by Ruth H. Finnegan – 278 world citizens participated in unglueing this book raising 7500 dollars – The e-book version is available for download from the website. You can go to to learn more and make your own pledge to give the gift of a book to the world.

Libraries, ebooks and freedom of information

In the current e-book market it is very hard for libraries to purchase and lend out ebooks to the public. This fact is making it darker times for universal access to information for the first time in decades. Lots of titles can’t be offered because the biggest publishers in the US are not working with the libraries there, and in Europe EBLIDA is doing work to get better deals here too. Booksellers say libraries are a threat to the ebook business even though research shows that libraries increase book sales – not the other way round. The current situation looks like a library nightmare. Though the focus for modern libraries shift from collections to connections it is still important that information will be more freely accessible in future – not less. There are also privacy concerns with some of the models in which libraries and we as citizens can purchase ebooks today. Booksellers can erase books from our devices (it has been done!), can spy on us to see what we read, underline and bookmark in our ebooks etc. Libraries do not own ebooks. They license them – and can’t lend them out limitlessly on most contracts.

The e-book formats are not universal and library e-book services are often hard to use limiting potential use because of technical illiteracy and difficulties.

The values behind contribute to another voice in the debate on the future of ebooks, libraries and access. If becomes a universal success the role of libraries on the e-book market will be (almost) obsolete because they will have provided all ebooks freely available for us all in every digital format without DRM and without spying on the reader etc. This is basically a very librarianish goal… – but there is still a long way to go.

Crowd funding – success and challenges

One important thing when crowd funding is that your project tells a story that is important to the possible contributors. You need to see that what you are contributing to will make a difference to someone and will be making the world a better place. This can be a tricky thing for a project like because everyone can agree that universal access to good books is an important issue – but what if the title does not appeal to me? Sometimes it is easier to raise a lot of money for a cause broadly known than for a work of art very few people know.
Crowd funding is not a new thing. It has been used to collect funds for helping out after natural disasters for many years and political parties are crowd funded by their members etc. Barack Obamas campaign for the presidential election 2008 was partly crowd funded like many other presidential campaigns have been. The new thing about Obamas campaign was that so many people contributed even if the amounts were small – a lot of people “owned” the campaign. These are all examples of projects that their supporters meant would make the world a better place.

Crowd funding projects – library related and beyond

In the library field successful crowd funding campaigns include Buy India a Library where 100 people from all over the world funded the building of a library connected to a school in Mysore, India including books, newspapers and wages for the staff for two years. The campaign raised more than 3000 Euros in less than two weeks and it was more funds than needed. Therefore it additionally funded four donkey drawn mobile libraries in Africa. The thought about opening a library in a world where a lot of libraries were closed appealed broadly.

The online library TV show This Week in Libraries current season is also partly crowd funded by people from all over the world who want to keep the show on the air. This Week in Libraries focuses on ideas and innovation in libraries and interviews library innovators from all over the world. The Help This Week in Libraries campaign showed that the show has a large world-wide supporter group.

A few examples of non-library related projects are singer Amanda Palmers newest album, art book and tour crowd funded via the very popular platformKickstarter.comHer campaign collected more than one million dollars before deadline.

The Uni is a reading room for public space that is also funded via Kickstarter and even though it is based in New York City there are now a new Uni in Kazakhstan too. It provides a flexible library like outdoor space for reading, showcasing learning and one of its aims is to improve public space.

Good luck with crowd funding your own future projects and with making the world a better place by crowd funding others projects and unglueing books to the world.

Jan Holmquist is a librarian working with library development in South East Denmark at Guldborgsund-bibliotekerne. He is also a global librarian, Zukunftsentwickler, blogger, Tweeter and crowd funder – member and co-founder of the Buy India a Library team and Help This Week in Libraries team.

The Book I am no Longer Reading (by TTW Contributor Troy Swanson)

I am no longer reading the book 1493 by Charles Mann (see my previous post about Mann’s earlier book, 1491, here). I was reading it but it just disappeared from my iPad. I had downloaded it via Overdrive from my local public library. My two-week loan period is over, the book vanished, and I am now back on the waiting list.

I am at a point in my life where I just don’t have time to read for fun. I just don’t have time to curl up with books any more. Young children, work responsibilities, side projects, homeownership, and the remnants of a social life (what’s left after having kids) mean that leisure reading is at a premium. Recently, my new reading space has been a local Chinese restaurant that serves tasty, unhealthy, Americanized-Chinese food. My iPad and I go for lunch, and I am able to read between between my chicken-fried rice and egg rolls.

When 1493 disappeared, I think I had just finished Chapter 1. I have a pretty good sense of the book’s organization and thesis. I was very excited about its direction and impressed at how Mann was connecting history to our modern world. But, the cruel hand of Overdrive swooped in and snatched Chapter 2 away from me. I kind of miss overdue notices.

The library where I am employed does not have access to Overdrive. We have been purposely dragging our feet. As a community college, we support research for the first two years of college, so we have focused our ebook efforts on collections of titles around specific subjects. We have found that browser-based options have been the low hanging fruit that provide useful content and easier access for our distance and off-campus students (probably many on-campus students as well). We have avoided Overdrive and some its competitors. But, we know that our ability to avoid moving in new directions is running out.

ALA’s recent report about Ebook Business Models doesn’t make me want to run our and dive into the market. James LaRue’s piece on ebooks (50 Shades of Red: Losing Our Shirts to Ebooks) doesn’t help much either (even though LaRue’s article is awesome).

I am sure that I could go out to a torrent site and find the book for free if I really tried. There is some irony that publishers are fearful of libraries, even though we do have budgets and we would like to purchase their content. My solution has been to interlibrary loan the book on CD so that I can listen to it on my drive to work. So, the race is on. Will I come off my library’s waiting list on Overdrive before the CD arrives via ILL?


Troy A. Swanson is Department Chair and Teaching & Learning Librarian at Moraine Valley Community College. He is the author of the upcoming book, Managing Social Media in Libraries. You can follow him on Twitter at @t_swanson.

Don’t Miss: TWIL #78 with Jamie LaRue (Library Director at Douglas County Libraries)

TWIL #78: Jamie LaRue (Library Director at Douglas County Libraries) from Jaap van de Geer on Vimeo.

This week’s guest comes from the library world and takes the idea of Justo bravely to another level. Jamie LaRue, library director of Douglas County Libraries realized that not having the ownership of content or being able to put up own content was a problem and when prices of e-content rose so far that it became absolutely ridiculous he decided to built his own platform. After consulting with his clever staff he decided to invest in the Adobe Content Server as that platform is trusted by the publishers and when it was installed he was ready to roll. Jamie and his staff are clearly setting the new frontier for libraries and show us that it pays off not to sit down and complain about the deal that is laid upon us, but to be innovative and built our own models. We talk about the publishing revolution, the rapidly growing role of self publishing and the challenging role for libraries. Jamie is so confident that there is a great role to play for libraries with the right people and the right ideas that we ended the show and the day with new energy and a good feeling.


Libraries as Publishers: Possibilities with print on demand

Clive Thompson recently gave an excellent interview on the findings tumblr as part of their “How We Will Read” series. In the interview, Thompson discusses his ideas on eBooks, social reading and the future of print. But I think that his thoughts about print on demand books are the most interesting.

What you see with print on demand in the last couple of years is that there’s been explosion in the number of things printed, but they’re printed in small quantities: three, four, five copies total. They tend to be things like very specialty books; weird memoirs only three or four people want to read; mementos: people put together photographs of their vacation with a little writeup. You get books that get updated in curious new ways. The University of Calgary hosted the former prime minister of Canada, Kim Campbell, and offered to sell copies of her book at her event. But her book was out of print. So she got the digital file, wrote two new chapters, a new introduction, and they printed 50 copies of it for the event.

Justin Hoenke‘s recent webinar has me thinking about the idea of libraries as “content creators.” This is probably why I get so excited to read Thompson’s thoughts and then connect them with the video from the Sacramento Public Library that I’ve embedded below. The possibilities with a print on demand machine in a library are many, and the programming and communities that could spring up around it would be fun, creative, and informative – for all ages.


*For further thoughts on the future of books, I’d highly recommend Craig Mod’s essay Post-Artifact Books and Publishing. I briefly discussed it in a blog post last June.


— by TTW Contributor Ben Lainhart