E-Books and New Library Service Models: An Analysis of the Impact of E-Book Technology on Academic Libraries
This article will analyze the implications of e-book technology on academic libraries. Although we are at a very early stage of e-book evolution, business models, standards, and supporting technology are under development that will dramatically affect libraries and librarians. Librarians and administrators therefore must understand thoroughly these trends in order to apply effectively the resulting innovations within their institutions. As Martrell states, ". . . librarians must begin to design an imaginative, easily identifiable space in cyberspace as the centrality of the library as a physical phenomenon slowly fades." 1 Improving library service by extrapolation from existing services, doing the same things faster and better, will provide incremental improvements but will not move us quickly to that "identifiable space" of which Martrell writes.
Effectively introducing e-books into a library has significant implications on our users, our existing services, and how we do business. The capabilities and the limitations of the e-book and related technologies therefore are used in this article to provide a framework for examining the implications of this technology on service in academic libraries. It is the author's view that we must understand not only the technology but also the end-to-end process that will transform the capabilities of the technology into an effective service. An example will help illustrate how we cannot just "plug-in" a digital innovation into existing services without addressing the broader process and technological environment.
An Example - Large Digital Objects
Most university libraries are beginning to amass a sizable collection of digital materials that include e-books, dissertations, journal articles, numeric data, and digital maps. [Note: The term "e-book" will be used in this paper to designate the content of the book that is represented in some digital format such as PDF or the XML-based Open eBook Publication Structure. 2 For simplicity, in situations where the context is clear, the term "e-book" also will be used to refer to the reading device. In cases where the context is not clear, "e-book reading device" will be used to refer to the hardware/software platform which is devoid of content.] Much of this digital material comes in the form of what could be called a "large digital object." For purposes of this article, a large digital object is a library information source that is contained in a computer file which is larger than 1.4 MB (i.e., the object won't fit on a diskette). From a user's perspective, these large digital objects are difficult to access and use, given existing processes and technological capabilities within libraries.
Recently, a patron came to the reference desk at Rutgers University Libraries (RUL) and asked how she could get a copy of one of the books from EEBO (Early English Books Online - www.lib.umi.com/eebo), a collection of some 125,000 titles from the medieval period that RUL has licensed from Bell and Howell. The EEBO service allows patrons to search and actually download a copy of a book to their local computer. The books are typically in PDF or djvu ( www.djvu.com) format and often can be in the order of 10 to 20 MB or larger in size. The choices for this student to "check out" the digital book were: (1) go to her home computer and download the file over a slow voice-grade telephone line; (2) buy a zip disk and then find a public computer at the university that had a zip drive and download the book; or (3) print the book (perhaps several hundred pages) at one of the computer labs on campus. None of these solutions was very satisfactory for the patron.
In this advancing digital library era, we are tantalizing our users by offering rapid access to digital sources and simultaneously frustrating them by not providing effective end-to-end processes that enable ease of use. The student scenario described above will occur more frequently as we buy more digital book collections. Therefore, to begin this analysis, we first will examine some of the new business models that are emerging as a result of this e-book phenomenon.
Models - Publishers, Libraries, Users
The e-book is a technological discontinuity for the library and thus has the potential of radically altering the way we do business and provide service. 3 The e-book represents a technology that is just being introduced in some libraries and, in fact, there is no print analog that will provide us with useful insight as to how we should deal with this new technology. Businesses have models that are designed to provide value to customers and stockholders while maximizing profits. Similarly, libraries have service models that maximize user satisfaction within the constraints of the mission and budget of the library. Since publishers and libraries are frequently partners and must exist in a symbiotic relationship, it is useful to examine some of the emerging business and library service models that are an outgrowth of the Internet and the e-book technology.
Publishers - New Business Models
Each of the business models outlined below reveals some new aspect of the marketplace that is related to e-books and each will have (or is having) an impact on libraries.
A traditional publishing model on the Internet. NetLibrary ( www.netlibrary.com) sells e-books to libraries at a price that is very similar to the hardbound book. The business model also uses the physical library metaphor which allows one copy of the book to be checked out, unless the library has purchased multiple copies. 4 Although this traditional model might be a useful starting point, it is very much transitional and innovative publishers are offering a variety of competing models. Given the benefits of sharing that accrue from the Internet and pressure from entrepreneurial ventures like those of Napster and Gnutella, it will be difficult to place these traditional, iron-clad controls on the marketplace. 5 In another approach, Lightning Source and Replica Books seemingly reverse the trend of e-books by using digital techniques to create the book and then produce a single book on demand using high speed duplex printing, collating, and binding. 6 One can imagine several innovative uses of this type of approach, such as allowing a library to produce one print copy of a digital book to "protect" themselves from the deficiencies of current digital archiving technology.
Self-publishing. Strictly speaking, the self-publishing approach may not be considered a business model since it is frequently used by individuals to avoid publishers' costs. Alternatively, this approach may also be considered a model for a single person business. Stephen King initiated a novel experiment in which he self-published The Plan and he is using an honor system in which he asks each downloader to pay one dollar per chapter. King had hoped to entice 75 percent of his readers to voluntarily pay, but with the fourth installment only about 50 percent of King's customers were actually paying for the downloaded chapters. King has temporarily suspended the serial novel experiment after the sixth installment. This model might work for an established author such as Stephen King, but most librarians will require some guarantee that the self-publisher is reliable and providing quality products.
New models of Internet publishing. Publishers are being very creative in using Internet and e-commerce technology and there are already many variants in the marketplace. Ditlea points out that there are at least 150 e-book-only publishers with a wide variety of business models. 7 For example at Mightywords.com, a prospective author can submit his or her manuscript of ten to one hundred pages. Note that the author maintains full editorial control and owns the copyright. This approach and the associated focus on relatively small books is creating a minor resurgence in an almost lost genre, that of the short story and novella. Onlineoriginals.com states that they "are the world leader in literary online publishing" and they will publish book-length manuscripts in English or French. Onlineoriginals distributes content in a number of different formats including PDF, Rocket e-book, and Microsoft Reader and they also offer a unique peer review service for aspiring authors. Firstprint.com is an e-book publisher of fiction (including short stories) and nonfiction by new and established authors. Book prices are set by the author and start at $2. Alexandria Digital Literature or AlexLit ( www.alexlit.com) has acquired many out-of-print stories and poems, many available from their Web site at less than one dollar. Their mission is to be the dominant e-publisher and digital clearinghouse for the $100 billion-a-year publishing industry. AlexLit offers an innovative recommender tool called Hypatia that will suggest titles to users if they are willing to join the AlexLit community and provide ratings for the sources that they read. One of the interesting aspects of AlexLit is to provide a community for readers where one can share experiences and connect to other bibliophiles. Similarly, iUniverse.com offers an approach with emphasis on a variety of services including author and publishing services and marketing online.
Partnerships with libraries. Partnerships with Internet publishers offer libraries a significant new opportunity. Recently, two new companies have developed some unique marketing and pricing models. 8 The Ebrary company ( www.ebrary.com) has a unique philosophy that enables researchers to have unlimited browsing. The Ebrary pricing model allows viewing of e-books at no cost, but users will pay for the right to print or copy the digital source material. The unique aspect of the business model entitles libraries to 5 percent of the revenues. Ebrary will also offer free digitization services in exchange for the right to charge others for the resulting digitized information. Questia is another Internet publisher that has the stated mission of providing access to the wealth of human knowledge. The following quote is from their Web site ( www.questia.com):
Questia is building the first online service to provide unlimited access to the full text of hundreds of thousands of books, journals, and periodicals, as well as tools to easily use this information. For millions of college students, the Questia service will enable them to research and compose their papers at any time, from every connected corner of the world.
Questia's business model is focused on digitized books that are used by colleges and universities as part of the liberal arts curriculum. Questia will charge a flat annual fee to each end user for online access to their entire collection. Note that Questia plans to market directly to the student and it is not clear how academic libraries fit into their business model.
Libraries as publishers. Librarians do not typically think of themselves as publishers and this mentality is excluding libraries from the ongoing dialogue about e-books and electronic publishing. In fact, one of the key roles for librarians is to provide access. A traditional library could be thought of as a server of print books and we need to think about the analog in the digital world. The University of Virginia Library's Electronic Text Center provides access to a large variety of titles, many of which can be accessed by the general public at http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/eng-on.html. At RUL, librarians are working on many special projects such as providing digital access to environmental gray literature ( http:// njenv.rutgers.edu), a medieval databank ( www.scc.rutgers.edu/memdb), and the digital preservation of brittle books. Although some of these projects can be thought of as "re-publishing" or secondary publishing, libraries are encountering and dealing with many of the same issues as Internet publishers.
Libraries - Impact on Services
Libraries are beginning to experiment with and offer e-books as part of their services and they are developing insights as to how this technology might fit into or augment traditional services. If we examine e-books within the context of various library services, we can see that there are potentially many changes that may impact how an academic library will do business. As is obvious from the following examples, the e-book technology will precipitate change in all aspects of libraries and librarianship. Libraries should be exploring aggressively how they can use e-book technology to enhance the library experience within the digital world.
Cataloging. The Open eBook (OEB) Publication Structure 1.0 ( www.openebook.org) provides a specification for representing the content of electronic books. This specification supports the entire set of Dublin Core metadata elements with a few minor extensions in which more specific information may be useful. Some businesses such as SoftBook ( www.softbook.com) provide publishing tools that will convert documents from Microsoft Word to this OEB specification. MARC has been a standard for many years within the library profession and certain library vendors have supported the MARC format in their various products. However, we are now on the threshold of adopting a standard that would make it much easier for commercial vendors to provide products that utilize the OEB standard. With comprehensive vendor support of the OEB specification, it will be convenient to publish in many proprietary formats, given that there is a base or archival copy represented in the OEB standard. As Dorman points out, the boundaries of our profession are changing and are much less clear. 9 The fading of the MARC format will likely be part of that change; however XML and new standards will also offer new opportunities.
Circulation. At the University of North Carolina, the library undertook an experiment in which they purchased seven Rocket e-books and five SoftBooks. 10 The e-book devices and individual titles were cataloged and entered in the library's online catalog. When a student checked out an e-book, it was preloaded with titles and they were given a library tote bag containing the e-book, a charger, instructions, and a user survey. This experiment obviously opens up new areas in which the library is circulating equipment and new roles for circulation staff in which they are loading e-books with titles and erasing student annotations when the e-book is returned. Many libraries are not looking forward to the awkward mechanics of circulating the e-book reading devices. This approach may not be necessary as the price and performance of e-books steadily improves, more content becomes available, and standards begin to take effect. As students begin buying their own reading devices, libraries can focus on delivering content and even streamlining some of their current labor-intensive processes such as book checkout.
Digital preservation. Many preservationists have considered digital technology an access rather than a preservation technology. However, when one looks at the numerous benefits derived from digitizing, such as rapid access and ease of sharing multiple copies, digital preservation becomes an attractive alternative when examined in combination with these other benefits. If a book is digitized or created in electronic format, preservationists may want to consider digital techniques for preservation. However, there are numerous preservation dilemmas looming on the horizon. Vendors are not typically concerned with preservation and, in fact, one could argue that vendors will profit by providing the same titles in different formats, just as music vendors sold titles in LP and CD format. Today, our only viable technique for digital preservation is to migrate content forward as formats and media change. 11 Lynch argues that it is essential for the legal and business frameworks to honor preservation and that these frameworks should permit migration of content. 12 So far, it appears that the e-book industry has concentrated on publishing, profits, and rights management with little attention given to archival and preservation issues.
Approval plans. As an early adopter of this technology, the University of Texas has a collection of six thousand e-books and is considering the possibility of extending the approval plan model to e-books. In fact, some selectors in special subject areas have said that they would like to receive only e-books and do not feel the need for any printed books. 13
The classroom and the library. E-books bring into question many of the traditional roles of libraries and librarians. Atkinson suggests that the boundary between the classroom and the library may become obstructive and may need to be minimized or removed. 14 This transition offers an opportunity in which the library can enter into a partnership with teaching faculty to provide access to e-books for courses. At RUL, an honors history course was developed by professor Rudolph Bell and this author in which students accessed and read digital books from the Early English Books Online collection (see www. scc.rutgers.edu/e-amor). A similar approach could be used for reserves in which all the reserve reading material is made available on an e-book. Given that the protocols for copyright can be worked out, there are many variations for courses that are attractive. For example, an instructor in collaboration with a librarian could create a customized text book taking chapters one through five from one book and chapters ten through twelve from another. Libraries can take an active role in this process as publishers of course material and in providing convenient digital access.
Digital book content and e-books are enabling the creation of new and innovative ways to sell products and provide library service. We must however look at the user. Within the context of this paper, users include faculty, librarians, staff, and students. Lynch points out that users will have to find some benefit in display readability, convenience, quality, or economics before e-books will find a prominent place in academic environments. 15 In addition to these basic criteria, added features that are not available in the print world such as searching text, damage-free annotation, hyperlinking, and portability may turn out to be powerful incentives. Nevertheless, at this early stage in e-book evolution, there does not appear to be a compelling reason to buy an e-book. The following scenarios offer some possibilities of e-book usage within an academic environment.
Scenario 1 - All course materials on an e-book. In this scenario, a student could store and access all the course materials (text books, journal articles, selected monographs, dissertations, class notes, etc.) for a semester on an e-book. The student would require the capability of adding material throughout the semester and should be able to annotate and selectively print. For this scenario to work effectively, students should be able to download easily from a variety of servers including those of libraries and vendors. To implement this scenario, a library will either need flexible rights management and widespread support of open book standards or, alternatively, very flexible reading devices that will support many different formats. From a process point of view, there is a potential new role on campus that would include the collection of all course materials on one server for ease of access and downloading. As a variant to this scenario, it might be useful in some courses with large reading lists to provide all the reading for a single course on an e-book. With current capacities ranging up to one hundred thousand pages, many e-books will accommodate all course material on a single device. Alternatively, given today's technology and the ubiquity of CDs, a better option at this point in time might be to store all materials on a rewritable CD. Compact disc technology is universal and would allow students to move content between laptops, personal computers, and public use computers in libraries or computer centers.
Scenario 2 -General library user. A concern was referenced earlier in this paper about large digital objects. One could imagine that an e-book device could become a general storage and reading device for students. When a student searches the library online catalog and finds a digital object (journal article, book, dissertation, etc.), it would be convenient to download the object directly to an e-book. E-books currently have sufficient storage capacity to save an entire semester's worth of reference and reading material and we are beginning to see e-books with built-in Ethernet connectivity and support of flexible protocols such as DHCP. However, many e-books will not support the most popular publication formats such as Adobe's PDF format.
Scenario 3 -The Internet user/ general reader. Given the current state of the technology, one could quite easily develop one's own digital library of sources in the classics, history, and humanities, many of which are offered free at a variety of Web sites. By getting started easily and inexpensively with free books, students will be more comfortable migrating to e-books that they pay for. A sampler of free sites includes Internet Classics Archive ( classics.mit.edu); the Humanities Text Initiative ( www.hti.umich.edu); the University of Maryland's Reading Room ( www.inform.umd.edu/EDRes/ ReadingRoom); the University of Virginia's electronic text center ( etext.lib.Virginia.edu/eng-on.html); Bartelby ( www.bartelby.com); Oxford Text Archive ( www.hcu.ox.ac.uk/ota/ public); National Academy Press ( books.nap.edu/index.html); Project Gutenberg ( www.gutenberg.net); and Representative Poetry On-line ( www.library.utoronto.ca/utel/rp). 16
|Display||6" x 8" (9.5" diagonal), grayscale, backlit, touch-sensitive LCD|
|Storage||4,000 pages with standard 8MB memory card, extendable to 16MB|
|Network||Built-in 33.6 kbps modem; download approximately 100 pages per minute or Ethernet connection with support of DHCP|
|Weight||2.9 lbs. (1.3 kg)|
|Power||Battery: Lithium-ion, rechargeable, removable, light-weight. Two to five hours reading time. Fast, one-hour recharge|
|Tools||Sophisticated searching, bookmarking, hyperlinking, text markup; stylus for marking and highlighting|
Figure 1. SoftBook Reader Specifications
As part of the research for this paper, the author selected one e-book reading device that approximated the price/performance required in an academic environment. After reviewing product literature and vendors' Web sites, the SoftBook Reader (www.softbook.com) was selected [Note: SoftBook is now part of RCA's Gemstar Ebook Service]. In general, the SoftBook is an excellent device with many features that are useful within the academic environment. The brief analysis here will give the reader some indication of the benefits of the SoftBook and suggest areas where e-book companies must improve before this technology will gain a foothold in academic and research library settings. The detailed specifications are briefly summarized in figure 1. What follows is a summary of the author's impressions of the SoftBook Reader.
Packaging. The overall size is convenient for carrying in a briefcase or book bag and the attractive brown coverlends a book-like appearance to the Reader.
Getting started. I found the brief "getting started" print manual and the e-book user manual very clear and easy to use. I quickly read the electronic manual and other complimentary books provided with the purchase.
Display. The physical size of the display (6" by 8") is much better for serious reading than the smaller devices on the market. The quality and brightness of the display are good. As with most LCD displays, bright sunlight or bright lights create surface glare and can make reading difficult.
Network. I purchased the model 250e, which provides both an integrated modem and Ethernet connection. These connections are important since there are many in the academic environment who routinely connect to their university backbone through a LAN or, alternatively, use a modem from an off-campus site. Using the modem, I was easily able to set the dial-up connection to my Internet Service Provider and download additional complimentary e-books.
Personal publisher. This free software enables the user to convert any Microsoft Word document to both the OEB specification and to the SoftBook proprietary format. Using this approach, I was able to download to the Reader some of my own personal documents including the draft of this article. I have also included Walking by Thoreau from Project Gutenberg and a digitally preserved book from RUL titled The Sermon in my personal collection.
Annotation. Using the stylus, it is easy to annotate text anywhere in the e-book or, alternatively, insert blank pages for more extensive annotation.
Weight. At 2.9 pounds, the reading device is still too heavy. When I have a few other materials in my briefcase along with the SoftBook, the overall weight is considerable. Hopefully, with improved battery technology and other innovations, e-book manufacturers can produce products that will weigh in at less than two pounds.
Formats. I have not yet found a way to download a document in Adobe's PDF format to the SoftBook Reader. This deficiency highlights the issue for users in an academic environment in which many publishers with conflicting formats will be encountered. A student will not purchase an e-book until it will store content from many publishers and in many formats.
SoftBook Web site. To download a free book or personal document to the Reader, one must first upload the book to the SoftBook Online Bookshelf and then download the book to the Reader. SoftBook is pursuing a certain business model by providing unique services to their customers such as personal accounts with free server storage. However, users will require the flexibility to be able to download e-books from local library servers without going through the SoftBook Web site.
Printing. Students will want to print parts of a book for extensive annotations with traditional pencil and paper or alternatively, annotate electronically and then print those annotations. The reading device should have the capability to connect to a printer. The larger issue here involves the opening up of a reading device so that it can accommodate both copyrighted and public domain materials. Even with copyrighted materials, the user should have the capability to copy selected pages for personal use (similar to what a student can legally do today with a print book).
Book metaphor. SoftBook has followed the book metaphor quite closely in the sense that the device lacks additional capabilities that do not relate to reading e-book content. In general, this focus is good since it simplifies the learning process and also helps in keeping the weight of the device down. However, since the device already has an integrated modem and Ethernet connections, users are likely to ask for e-mail and Web browsing capability. It would be convenient to be reading a book or journal article and naturally follow a hyperlink to a referenced Web site.
Standards and Digital Rights Management
For libraries to operate successfully in a multivendor environment, standards (and vendors who adhere to these standards) will be essential. In some sense, publishers and libraries are on the opposite ends of a "rights" continuum; libraries are looking for unfettered and inexpensive access to digital material while publishers seek opportunities for new and innovative pricing models. Libraries should be very concerned about rights management since publishers seem to be moving in the direction of denying the rights of "first use." 17 As in the e-journal world, the customer is generally paying for distribution rather than actually buying a copy of the journal. There are two important specifications underway that promise to eliminate some of the confusion in dealing with e-book publishing, distribution, and access.
The Electronic Book Exchange (EBX) System provides a complete specification for interoperable applications and devices that use public-key cryptography. 18 Specifically, the EBX System defines the way in which e-books are distributed from publishers to booksellers and distributors, from booksellers to consumers, between consumers, and between consumers and libraries. The specification also describes how these partners in the electronic book business will interact to form a comprehensive copyright system that both protects the intellectual property of authors and publishers while describing the capabilities required by consumers.
While the EBX system focuses exclusively on rights management, the Open eBook Publication Structure (www.openebook.org/specification. htm) provides a specification for representing the content of electronic books. Specifically, the specification is intended to give content providers (e.g., publishers and others who have content to be displayed) and tool providers minimal and common guidelines which ensure fidelity, accuracy, accessibility, and presentation of electronic content over various electronic book platforms. Representatives of the Open eBook Forum and the Electronic Book Exchange Working Group have developed a plan to combine the efforts of both organizations. The unified organization will be a focal point for standards activities related to electronic publishing.
E-Books in an Academic Library
There are many possible real world scenarios that likely will emerge from a convergence of technology (e-books and the Internet), Internet publishers, and digital libraries. These scenarios will mature and transform over time, however there are some important improvements that must be made before any of these scenarios could be thought of as an operational success. The partners in this business (e-book manufacturers, publishers, libraries) will have to: (1) Provide more content suitable for research libraries including text books and scholarly monographs; (2) continue to improve the quality of e-book displays; (3) reduce the weight of e-books to a manageable two pounds or less; (4) support open standards so that books from many different sources (publishers) and personal notes can be downloaded to a variety of readers; and (5) improve the process of finding and downloading e-books. If these improvements are made, users will see the value in e-books and will begin to apply them in an academic environment. The following sections outline two possible operational scenarios within a library.
The Classic Book Model
This model closely follows the processes that have been established for print books.
1. A library buys x copies (perhaps only one) of an electronic monograph.
2. The book is cataloged and a MARC record is entered into the online catalog.
3. When a user finds an e-book in the online catalog, he can download a copy of the e-book to his reading device. This digital book would come shrink-wrapped in a "rights management" envelope ("voucher" in EBX terminology) that would indicate the loan period, printing and copying rights, and when the book must be returned to the library.
4. Other students can check out the e-book simultaneously if the library has purchased more than one copy.
5. Statistics are kept easily on the e-book server as to number of checkouts and the length of the recall queue. These data are readily available to circulation staff and selectors.
6. The student can read and annotate the book on her e-book device. Printing and copying is available per the rights assigned to this book.
7. The student can return the book by connecting with the e-book server. Alternatively, the rights management information would render the book unreadable when the loan period expires.
Distributed Networking and the Napster Model
Obviously, there are many variations on the classic book model outlined above. However, given new networking and distribution models on the Internet, it is likely that the classic model will be superceded by other more innovative approaches. In fact, we are likely to see much of our intellectual material "napsterized" in the next few years. The following scenario is based on networking models pioneered by Napster and Gnutella, however the question here is how to extend these models into the library world to improve services to the user. A similar scenario dealing with inter-library loan and document delivery has been suggested by Chudnov. 19 Essentially, Napster provides a directory service in which the only centralized resource is the directory and the digital resources are located on thousands of PCs that are acting as servers. Gnutella goes a step further by providing the software and protocol for a true peer-to-peer network (i.e., there is no centralized resource). So, imagine a similar model in which there is a library network with thousands of library servers. The underlying directory or catalog is continuously growing as each of these libraries purchases digital books. The difference from the existing Napster model is threefold: (1) digital book content is purchased from the publishers as opposed to copying a file from any of the online PCs and digital rights are managed appropriately, (2) selection and purchasing functions are carried out by specialists in their respective fields so that quality is preserved, and (3) multiple servers offer redundant access to the same titles. The scenario with reference to figure 2 is as follows:
1. A publishing company publishes an e-book using an open standard such as the OEB specification.
2. Libraries acquire e-books using a variety of pricing models. A copy of the e-book with a digital rights voucher is downloaded to the library server. The voucher sets the rights for the library to loan copies of this book. In particular, a copy count indicates the number of copies the library is allowed to loan.
3. As libraries buy books, a directory that comprises a "union catalog" of e-books is gradually developed. This directory could be administered by a library consortium or one of the libraries that participates in the network.
4. Three brief user request scenarios are outlined below with reference to figure 2. A further analysis of these scenarios is included at the end of this section.
a. A user requests an e-book that is in the directory and has been purchased by her library. In this case, a download of the book occurs directly from the borrower's library server. A copy of the voucher with more restrictive rights is also downloaded to the user's e-book. In this case, the permissions would indicate how long the user is allowed to "borrow" the book along with copy and print permissions. (See request book3 in figure 2). Note that the voucher concept is from EBX and is characterized as a digital object that describes e-book permissions which apply to the transfer of an e-book.
b. A user requests a book that is in the directory and has been purchased by another library. In this case, a down load occurs from the other library server with a voucher that is similar to the one in 4a above. Note that this capability provides instantaneous inter-library loan (see request book5 in figure 2).
c. A user requests a book that is not in the directory. The requester's library decides to purchase a copy of the book. The book is downloaded to the library server and to the e-book requester. The purchase expense for the copy is returned to the publisher (see request book7 in figure 2).
Figure 2. A Distributed Networking Model for E-Books
Summary and Analysis of E-Book Impact
There are many pricing models that could be attached to the networking scenario described above. The flexibility of the Internet will undoubtedly yield many more options as vendors take advantage of the Internet and electronic commerce.
Traditional purchase. The library purchases an archival copy of the book. This is similar to the print analog in which the library actually buys the book. There has been very little discussion of what this type of purchase actually means in the electronic world. (see Archival Copy below).
Distribution rights. As in the e-journal model, the library pays to distribute copies of the e-book. Digital rights would have to be enforced to prevent users from making their own copies. The EBX system is directed at this type of distribution model.
Free until downloaded. This approach is offered by Ebrary as discussed previously. It would allow users to browse the book on a workstation and then to pay for getting a complete copy or for printing selected parts of the book. In this pricing model, costs are passed directly to the end user.
Free with sharing price. Books are distributed to libraries free of charge. When an e-book is checked out, the end user pays a small sharing charge, part of which goes to the publisher and part to the library. Why would a publisher submit to this model as opposed to selling books outright to each library? First, the publisher may actually have the potential to bring in more revenue from "sharers" who would not normally pay the purchase price of the book. Also, as in the music industry, it will behoove publishers to adapt a model in which books can be distributed securely with the benefit of a sharing expense. The alternative may be what we have seen in the music and software industry in which there is much pirated electronic material.
The feasibility of these various models rests on a flexible rights management standard like EBX in which a voucher can be passed from publisher to library upon purchase of a copy of the book. The purchasing library would have authority to loan the book to users, to other libraries, and in turn to their users. The EBX system would also have to pass on a more restrictive voucher to the borrower along with the download of the digital book. In general the user would have reading and annotation rights and perhaps limited printing rights. Ultimately, the rights system should allow some limited form of printing that would permit students to print a number of contiguous pages up to some predetermined total. This capability could significantly enhance the desirability of e-book reading, especially for textbooks with detailed diagrams. Until annotation capability improves, students will want more conventional pencil and paper annotation for highly technical material.
Publishers and standards bodies do not appear to be addressing the issue of archival or preservation copies of an e-book. The purchasing library should have the option to purchase an archival copy that is rendered in a format that can be migrated forward across formats, media, operating systems, and other technological impediments. This concept does not get much discussion in e-book circles since the publishing industry is driven by the profit motive and there are no good, all-inclusive digital preservation techniques available today. Further, it is not clear how the digital rights would be handled. When an Internet e-book publisher goes out of business in a few short years, what is the status of all the books that have been purchased by libraries and how do these libraries guarantee that these books will be available in fifty years?
The network model outlined here differs somewhat from the Napster model in that the endpoints of the network are library servers rather than individual PCs or workstations. Nevertheless, the underlying approach has significant benefits in terms of distributing and sharing library effort and purchasing across many libraries. In addition, institutional security measures for both the servers and the content would guarantee a reliable exchange of e-books. The fact is that these types of models will come into existence independently of libraries as we have seen in the music industry. The recent agreement between Bertelsmann and Napster 20 will likely produce a network technology in which users will pay for the music they download. As a result, network file sharing could become the foundation for a new business model. The question for libraries is how to adapt and control the technology in such a way that the quality benefits flow to users, and publishers and authors receive both recognition and equitable compensation for their efforts.
As we rely more heavily on digital material, traditional bibliographic structures will disappear and new standards such as the Open eBook specification will yield new approaches to developing and maintaining the library catalog. The model presented here suggests that e-books are described using the OEB specification. As libraries purchase e-books and users request e-books not in the library, the union catalog (as in figure 2) would grow rapidly. Users could login directly to the catalog and browse or search the contents and download e-books directly to their e-book reading device. Ideally, all the necessary descriptive and rights information for an e-book would come from the publisher at the outset. Libraries would have an option of basically running two catalogs in parallel (i.e., their existing online catalog and the growing e-book union catalog). Alternatively, libraries may want to merge the e-book catalog with their own online catalog.
As we have seen with many publishers of e-journals, the interfaces from the libraries online catalog (typically through a hyperlink in MARC 856 field) to the journal articles are awkward and confusing. In the print world, once a student has found the catalog number, he can go directly to the book in the stacks without visiting the publisher. Hopefully, with more effective rights management, the URL in the library catalog will take the user directly to the digital source with the ability to preview and download directly to the e-book reading device. Ultimately, the intricacies and confusion of library catalog numbers and special library vocabulary (e.g., "stacks") should disappear and the access (downloading process) should be as simple and seamless as saving a file on your local computer is today.
E-Book Reading Device
Digital books are here to stay and libraries will have to find ways of dealing with the various formats and standards that are under development. However, the form of the actual reading device will take some time to mature. At this juncture in the evolution of the reading device, one could make a case for the general purpose laptop becoming the reading device for digital books. Students are not likely to buy both a laptop and another appliance that can only be used for reading digital books. In addition, manufacturers of the customized e-book platforms will find themselves tracking much of the technology that is already found in laptops such as color displays and wireless LAN cards.
We are very early in the evolutionary life of the e-book and it is difficult at this stage to predict how this new technology will transform library services. Surely there will be further innovation such as talking books, digital paper, and electronic ink that will continue to impact our service models and the reading experience. What is certain is that e-book impact will be significant, and the discontinuity and the opportunity for the library will likely emerge from a packaging of multiple technologies including the e-book, Internet (higher bandwidth), speech technology, display and battery technology, and innovative partnerships and pricing models. It is likely that many book lovers and librarians will want to ignore e-book technology and the associated innovations that are likely to accrue. However, Martrell 21 states that "we need to create a range of services unthinkable in the twentieth century, but mandatory in the twenty-first century, if we are to provide society with the value-added services it will need from its professionals." The technologies to begin this creative work are at our fingertips, and the practical use of these technologies will need to be guided by librarians with vision and imagination who can create this new library space of which Martrell speaks. In the end, when a student in ten or twenty years from now visits the (virtual) library, this action should have meaning that is distinct from "searching the Web" and represents the library values of service, quality information, and community that is present in our print-based libraries of today.
2. Authoring Group, Open eBook Publication Structure 1.0. (Sept. 1999). Accessed Aug. 15, 2000, www.openebook. org/specification.htm.
3. Ronald Jantz, "Technological Discontinuities in the Library: Digital Projects that Illustrate New Opportunities for the Librarian and the Library," 66th IFLA Council and General Conference Proceedings (Jerusalem, Israel, August 13-18, 2000). Accessed Sept. 14, 2000, www.ifla.org/ IV/ifla66/papers/006-120e.htm.
7. Steve Ditlea, "The Real E-Books," Technology Review (July/Aug. 2000). Accessed Mar. 27, 2000, www.technologyreview.com/magazine/jul00.asp.
11. Jeff Rothenberg, Avoiding Technological Quicksand: Finding a Viable Technical Foundation for Digital Preservation (Council of Library and Information Resources, 1998). Accessed Aug. 15, 2000, www.clir.org/pubs/reports/rothenberg/contents.html.
14. Ross Atkinson, "Contingency and Contradiction: The Place(s) of the Library at the Dawn of the New Millennium," J ournal of the American Society of Information Science and Technology 52, no. 1 (2001): 3-11.
17. Stephanie Ardito, "Electronic Books: To 'E' or not to 'E'; That Is the Question," Searcher (2000). Accessed Sept. 10, 2000, www.infotoday.com/searcher/apr00/ardito.htm.
18. EBX Working Group, The Electronic Book Exchange System (EBX) Version 0.7. Book Industry Study Group, Inc. (July 2000). Accessed Aug. 15, 2000, www.ebxwg.org.
Ronald Jantz (firstname.lastname@example.org) is Government and Social Services Data Librarian, Rutgers University Libraries.