Business Models

icon representing digital content issuesExamples of business models for working with and setting up library Ebook and Digital Content distribution.

Publisher Models

Case Studies of Current, Suggested, and Emerging Models

E-book lending clubs


Publisher Models

  1. Mike Shatzkin - "Ebooks Are Making Me Recall the History of Mass-Market Publishing" (March 2011). This article by a well known publishing consultant outlines the history of paperback publishing and makes comparisons to the new e-book phenomenon, such as the fact that the introduction of mass market paperbacks created legions of new readers, and that paperbacks generated enormous new profits for publishers, new authors were spawned, the proliferation of titles grew the genre market, but that traditional publishers were against paperbacks. What happened? The paperback publishers won. Shatzkin says, “Much-less-expensive editions, combined with access to audiences for authors that couldn’t get past the gatekeepers in the established houses, can create millions of new readers that weren’t available to the legacy products at the legacy prices. And that can lead to economic power that can ultimately swallow up large chunks of the legacy publishing establishment.”
  2. BookTrix – “The eBook Revolution” The author argues that e-books can create new markets for books in the same way that mass market paperbacks did. Consumers have made clear that if books are inexpensive, they will buy and read more of them, taking on more risk and rewarding publishers and authors they like with a full measure of loyalty and commitment.Traditional publishers are missing the market opportunity created by the e-book revolution when they fail to create a significant price benefit for their e-books.
  3. “Publishing in the Digital Era: a Bain & Co. Study” (2011). This report has several interesting graphs and statistics, and includes the prediction that 15 percent to 25 percent of book sales will shift to digital format by 2015, and that the shift to digital publishing could boost book consumption because more than 40% of readers equipped with a reading device say that they read more now than before.
  4. Winning in Digital – “How to Survive and Prosper from Digital Transition—Planning for Pain Before Enjoying the Gain” (March 2011) A British expert in digital business models advises that the next two or three years will be very tough for publishers just at the time when they need to be investing in their digital future. The choices will be stark: “Either make major Investments in the digital supply chain in a period of declining revenues, with the expectation of a long pay back. Alternatively JV or partner with digital specialists to share the financial risk of digital transition, but risk losing control of your digital destiny. Or make small, piecemeal investments in digital based on current market size, with the risk of being unprepared when the market reaches its inevitable tipping point.”
  5. The Bookseller – “Myers Wants End to Supply Chain Madness” (March 2011). The managing director of Waterstone’s, the large bookseller which owns 25% of the book market, says there is an excess of millions of square feet of book distribution space in the UK, which cuts into their profit margins. He also believes that returns should be in the single digit percentages, while at Waterstone’s last week it was 12%.
  6. "How eBook catalogs at public libraries drive publishers' book sales and profits: thought leadership white paper," - OverDrive (May 2010). Data presented in this white paper will demonstrate the ability of public libraries to drive sales of print and digital content.
  7. Michael Kelley - "New Ebook Platform from McGraw-Hill Professional Offers Unlimited Concurrent Usage," - Library Journal (May 2011). McGraw-Hill Professional launched a new ebook platform on May 13 that offers libraries one-to-four-year subscription plans and unlimited concurrent usage.  The McGraw-Hill eBook Library will offer about 1500 titles in pre-assembled collections covering engineering, computing, business, medicine, and study aids. New books will be added at no additional cost, but custom collections are not available.
  8. "Library Ebooks Coming Soon to Amazon Kindle! But at What Cost," - Library Renewal (May 2011). This blog post details the new deal between Amazon and OverDrive which will allow library users to download books from the OverDrive catalog onto a Kindle.  The author expresses concern that Amazon will have access to statistics about library patrons that they may not share with libraries, and he questions if this deal will hurt libraries in the future.
  9. "Happily Ever After," - Irin Carmon, Fast Company. July / August 2011, p. 112. Short article about how the head of Harlequin's romance e-book imprint, Carina Press, has come up with a new business model for digital publishing.

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Case Studies of Current, Suggested, and Emerging Models

  1. ALA's “Ebook Business Models for Public Libraries” Based on conversations with publishers and deliberations on the ebook market, the ALA released this report that describes general features and attributes of the current ebook environment and outlines constraints and restrictions of current business models.

  2. BusinessWire – “ebrary Launches New Starter Packs of Essential E-Books in 25 Subject Areas” Founded in 1999, ebrary offers more than 273,000 e-books from over 500 trusted publishers under flexible models including subscription, perpetual archive (purchase), and patron driven acquisition. Its e-books are available through Web browsers.

  3. Library Journal – “Colorado Publishers and Libraries Collaborate on Ebook Lending Model” Two Colorado libraries are working with the Colorado Independent Publishers Association to buy, store, and manage access to ebooks on library servers; integrate the ebooks into their catalogs; and provide click-through purchases of the titles from the library catalog. Negotiations were still under way as to whether the ebook purchase price would be discounted.

  4. Library Journal - Internet Archive Tests New Ebook Lending Waters - In-Library, and License-Free (March 2011).

  5. Internet Archive and Library Partners Develop Joint Collection of 80,000+ eBooks To Extend Traditional In-Library Lending Model (February 2011).

  6. New Lending Model for Ebooks in Libraries from Internet Archives Any account holder can borrow up to 5 e-books at a time, for up to 2 weeks. Books can only be borrowed by one person at a time. People can choose to borrow either an in-browser version (viewed using the Internet Archive’s BookReader web application), or a PDF or ePub version, managed by the free Adobe Digital Editions software. This new technology follows the lead of the Google eBookstore, which sells books from many publishers to be read using Google's books-in-browsers technology. Readers can use laptops, library computers and tablet devices including the iPad.

  7. "iTunes: how copyright, contract, and technology shape the business of digital media - a case study," - The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School This case study explores the iTunes lending model, among other issues, and may be useful as an example of the ways in which the music industry sells and lends digital content and how that can be applied to an eBook lending model for libraries.

  8. David Rapp - "Colorado Library Consortium Adds Project Gutenberg Ebooks to Library Catalogs," - Library Journal (December 2010). The Colorado Library Consortium (CLiC), in collaboration with Douglas County Libraries (DCL) and other Colorado libraries, launched a new program, "E-discover the Classics," to help Colorado libraries easily provide users access to content from Project Gutenberg—a site that provides free ebooks and audiobooks of public domain works. The project has expanded to help libraries in other states, and other countries, do the same.

  9. "Revised Statement on the Global Economic Crisis and its Impact on Consortial Licenses," - June 2010 - ICOLC Written on behalf of the many library consortia across the world that participate in the ICOLC, this statement has two purposes.  It is intended to help publishers and other content providers from whom we license electronic information resources (hereafter simply referred to as publishers) understand better how the current unique financial crisis affects the worldwide information community.  Its second purpose is to suggest a range of approaches that we believe are in the mutual best interest of libraries and the providers of information services.

  10. Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA)” eBook Feasibility Study for Public Libraries,” June, 2010 This 53 page study is an excellent overview published by the State Librarians of the US. It discusses devices, access issues, buying power and leverage, and seven scenarios describing possible roles for public libraries in the future.

  11. Michael Kelley - "Overdrive to Streamline Platform and Expand Offerings," - Library Journal, 15 June 2011. Among other things, the new model will eliminate the need for librarians to deal with various ebook file formats. Currently, OverDrive provides ebooks in three formats: EPUB, PDF and Mobipocket; and audiobooks in two: MP3 and WMA. Libraries must choose which formats to provide patrons. For example, this is a title from the Cleveland Public Library that comes in three separate formats. Under the new system, librarians and patrons will not face this clutter and have to select only "ebook" or "audiobook."

  12. Rapp, David. “OCLC Testing PDF-based Article ILL Service.” LibraryJournal. Library Journal, 5 Aug. 2010. Web. Recently academic libraries have begun to deliver journal articles requested through ILL electronically.  OCLC began testing this initiative last year and so far, libraries are only lending articles electronically when licensing agreements specifically allow it.  ILL of eBooks is also an important topic for libraries, but to date, there is no substantial information on how this might work and vendors are not prepared to offer viable models. 

  13. "Ingram Unveils New Ebook, Audiobook Deals." Library Journal 136.9 (2011): 16. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text. EBSCO. Web. 17 Aug. 2011. Ingram Content Group recently unveiled two new library e-content agreements, with OCLC and Recorded Books, that will provide new ways to access Ingram's ebook and audiobook titles. A new Ingram-OCLC service will allow patrons to borrow MyiLibrary ebooks on a short-term basis; the Ingram--Recorded Books agreement will see Ingram audiobooks added to Recorded Books' OneClickdigital platform.

  14. Guiding Principles for Collecting Books in Electronic Format. Report of the Collection Development Committee Task Force on E-books. 12 May 2008. UC Libraries. The body of the report is focused on recommendations related to internal collection management activities for e-books and to provide context for the recommendations regarding preferred licensing, business and access terms as well as e-book functionality.

  15. "Analyzing e-Book pricing options and models based on FinELib e-Book strategy." Paul Mikkonen, The National Library. Helsinki, Finland. E-book licensing has been one of the primary strategic goals of the National Electronic Library of Finland (FinELib consortium) over the past two years. FinELib has negotiated licence agreements for various e-book collections for its member universities, polytechnics, research institutes and public libraries. The focus of this presentation is to describe and analyse some e-book pricing options and models from the point of view of centralized consortium acquisition. Publishers and aggregators offer libraries several different pricing options for e-books. Ebooks can be acquired as single copies or in collections. Pricing can be based on the number of potential users in the organisation, or the resources can be acquired through restricted simultaneous user licences. Pricing may also be based on annual subscriptions or the books may be purchased separately. User rights and other agreement terms, as well as user statistics, are important when evaluating e-book offers and the value of e-book collections.

  16. JISC National E-books Observatory Project: key findings and recommendations. Final report, November 2009. The goal of this project was to evaluate the use of the course text e-books though deep log analysis and to assess the impact of the 'free at the point of use’ e-books upon publishers, aggregators and libraries. To transfer knowledge acquired during the project to publishers, aggregators and libraries to help stimulate the emerging course text e-books market. The report also provides statistics regardings students' use of course e-textbooks.

  17. Expanding eBooks: Purchasing and lending at Canadian public libraries. August 2011. Publishers and libraries need eBook models that make sense and maintain a strong book industry in Canada. The following paper provides background to the conversation between publishers and libraries, explaining the current issues with providing eBooks in Canadian libraries and identifying areas where libraries’ experience with electronic resources can assist in developing new models.

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E-book lending clubs

  1. Wall Street Journal – “E-Book Lending Takes Off: New Online Clubs That Let Readers Share Have Drawbacks but Worry Publishers” and The Globe and Mail – “The Rise of the E-Book Lending Model” The Kindle Lending Club was begun by a business consultant, and has 12,000 members exchanging as many as 600 books a day.

  2. – “These eBooks Will Self-Destruct After Reading:  HarperCollins to Libraries” This article begins with the HarperCollins issue, but ends by saying that eBook lending clubs might someday eclipse the lending power of public libraries. This opinion is based on the 600 books a day figure from the Kindle Lending Club, which adds up to 219,000 a year. Fortunately, one commenter points out to the author the statistic that libraries “swap” 2.27 billion books a year. The message of this article is how little many people know about what public libraries do.

  3. TechCrunch – “Kindle Lending Club Forced By Amazon To Rebrand; Now”

  4. Technolog – “Amazon Resurrects E-Book Swapper Lendle” Amazon first insisted that the e-book lending club Lendle stop their service, but later changed position once Lendle agreed to make a software change.

  5. "24Symbols promises Netflix-like subscription library access," - TeleRead On Booksprung, Chris Walters reports that a Spanish company named Bestsharer is testing 24symbolsa service akin to Spotify or Netflix for e-books, with an eye toward a June launch. It will essentially be a subscription-based service by which for a monthly fee readers will get access to a cloud-hosted e-book library that they can read as long as they’re paid up. (Also like Spotify, it won’t be available in the US on launch.)

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