Issues & Where to Start

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In the News
Future Outlook

Ebook FAQ's

Frequently Asked E-book Questions by Public Librarians. Prepared by the OITP E-book Task Force, June 2011.

In the News

(See also the ALA Library Delicious page on ebooks and e-readers)

  1. What’s Next for E-books in Libraries? (June 2014) From Publishers Weekly: "All the major publishers are now participating in the library e-book market, and there are a number of competing platform providers in the space. The big question now is, can the library e-book experience meet users’ expectations?" User satisfaction is the next hurdle for libraries.

  2. College Libraries Push Back as Publishers Raise Some E-Book Prices. Chronicle of Higher Education, (June 2014). "Academic librarians have long decried the prices commercial publishers charge for access to serial publications, particularly electronic journals in the sciences. With journal packages taking up increasingly large chunks of library budgets, the prospect of publishers’ ramping up prices on another digital format has spooked some librarians."

  3. For e-books in libraries, 2013 has been a year of small victories and bigger battles (November 2013) According to author Michael Kelly, For public librarians, recent good news "should not obscure the fact that the present system, with its plethora of licensing models and platforms, remains untenable."

  4. HarperCollins begins selling ebooks directly to readers, starting with and (October 2013) "Launching a platform that allows HarperCollins to establish a direct-to-consumer marketing and sales proposition to expand some of its strongest brands to new audiences means we honor both our past and our present," Chantal Restivo-Alessi, HC’s chief digital officer, said in a statement.

  5. Macmillan Expands Library Ebook Lending (October, 2013) "With its third foray into the library ebook market this year, Macmillan is definitely on an 'upward trajectory with librarians,' said ALA President Barbara Stripling."

  6. The Seduction of Libraries (August 2013) Author Laura Florand's Op-Ed reaches out to writers: “Encourage your publisher to make your books available as e-books to libraries. And if you are self-publishing, make sure your books are on Overdrive or Smashwords.”

  7. E-Books Strain Relations Between Libraries, Publishing Houses (August 2013) E-books have changed the world of publishing in fundamental ways. The business model that encouraged publishers to support the work of public libraries has changed to such an extent that this relationship has been stressed to the point of non cooperation.

  8. ALA applauds Macmillan Publishers’ entry into library market (January 2013) On the eve of its national Midwinter Meeting in Seattle, the American Library Association ALA  welcomed the announcement from Macmillan Publishers that it will enter the library e-book lending market by the end of March 2013.

  9. Macmillan Announces Details of Library Lending Pilot (January 2013)  Macmillan will launch a pilot program selling ebooks to public libraries. The pilot, which will launch in the first quarter of this year, involves more than 1200 backlist titles from the Minotaur imprint, which handles mysteries and crime fiction.

  10. E-book Task Force White Paper, Connecticut State Library Advisory Council for Library Planning and Development. (October 2012) The task force examined and reported on library practices and license agreements, exploring issues of ebook compliance with statewide reciprocity regulations, the possibility of a statewide ebook cooperative, and best practice recommendations for Connecticut libraries looking to purchase ebook content.

  11. "Google strikes deal with publishers over universal library," (October 4, 2012) The Association of American Publishers announced a new settlement deal with Google regarding the company’s creation of a digital library. The agreement is twofold: It deals with the millions of books that Google has already scanned, and also sets the rules for digitizing in the future.

  12. California Gov Signs Landmark Digital Textbook Bill, (October 1, 2012) In a move that some feel is another blow to the big business of traditional publishing, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that will give the California college systems the push they need to not only find open source textbooks for their students’ classes, but will also enable the colleges and universities to develop these materials themselves in order to make student textbooks free.

  13. "Chinese encyclopedia wins $86,000 in lawsuit against Apple over App Store piracy" (September 28, 2012)  The Encyclopedia of China Publishing House has won a modest $86,000 (RMB 520,000) judgment against Apple after unauthorized copies of its encyclopedia were sold on the App Store, the Beijing Times reports.

  14. "Librarian Patience Has Run out on E-Book Lending Issues, Library Association Says" (September 27, 2012) Patience has run out for librarians around the unsolved issue of e-book lending at libraries, according to American Library Association president Maureen Sullivan.

  15. "eBooks explode in popularity at library" (September 21, 2012) A Canadian library discusses the explosion of ebook checkouts at their library.

  16. "Bard and Book Publishing CrowdSources what eBooks will get the Print Treatment" (September 21, 2012) Interesting and innovative approach to an ebook publishing model

  17. "Apple, ebook publishers look to settle EU antitrust dispute" (September 20, 2012) Apple and four major ebook publishers have offered retailers such as the option to set their own prices for ebooks for the next two years in a bid to end an antitrust investigation in the European Union.

  18. "Third of E-Book Publishers Now Seeing Double-Digit Digital Revenue" | Digital Book World (September 19, 2012)  About a third of publishing companies that publish e-books are seeing double-digit percentages of their revenue come from digital publishing operation

  19. "Ebook price war sees discounts reach 97%" (September 18, 2012) As digital fiction sales rocket, Sony and Amazon push dramatic price cuts – raising concerns from authors

  20. "HarperCollins Reaches New Agreements With Amazon and Others on E-Book Prices," (September 10, 2012) HarperCollins has struck new agreements with Amazon and other retailers that allow its e-books to be sold at a discount.

  21. What DCWG Did This Summer (Spoiler: We Didn’t Vacation) (September 04, 2012) Based on the past months of work on ebooks, publishers, and distributors, the Digital Content and Libraries Working Group (DCWG) completed and released its report “Ebook Business Models for Public Libraries” in early August as a means of sharing some of what we learned with the library community at large.

  22. Life With E-Books, (Aug 24, 2012) “Mixed” is how Robert Wolven, associate university librarian at Columbia University, and co-chair of the ALA’s Digital Content Working Group, describes the state of affairs between libraries and publishers.

  23. "Top Libraries in U.S. and Canada Issue Statement Demanding Better Ebook Services" (June 5, 2012) Michael Kelley. Over 70 library systems from the United States and Canada — including New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Toronto, and Chicago — today issued a joint statement demanding vastly improved ebook services for library users in North America.

  24. "Free Library of Philadelphia Lawsuit Casts a Pall Over eReader Lending Programs Everywhere"  (May 5, 2012) Four visually impaired Philly residents filed suit this week against the Free Library of Philadelphia.

  25. Brian Murray, HarperCollins CEO, on 26 checkout limit [VIDEO] Murray addresses HarperCollins' approach to e-book lending in libraries at the 8:00 minute mark.

  26. “Ebook Blues,” (March 2011) Details why HarperCollins established a 26 checkout limit for lending ebooks and why OverDrive removed the publisher from their catalog.

  27. "Tell HarperCollins: Limited Checkouts on eBooks is Wrong for Libraries." (2011)As Cory Doctorow wrote, "the durability of eBook is a feature, not a bug." To place a cap on the circulation of eBooks in order to "simulate" the wear and tear of a physical book is not only insulting to readers, but this video shows how easily it can be proven wrong with physical books.

Future Outlook

  1. The Rise of eBooks and a Shrinking Library Catalog (April 7, 2014) As public libraries spend more of a flat budget on acquiring eBooks, the number of new print books that same library can purchase will need to be reduced.

  2. The Rise of eReading (April 4, 2012) PEW Spring 2012.  21% of Americans have read an e-book. The increasing availability of e-content is prompting some to read more than in the past and to prefer buying books to borrowing them.

  3. Glazer, Sarah. "Future of Books." CQ Researcher 29, May 2009: 473-500. Web. (May 13, 2011) Report on the future of books with a focus on eBooks while exploring issues, background, and outlooks in the industry.
  4. Information Standards Quarterly (ISQ) Spring 2011, 23.2. The Spring 2011 issue of NISO's Information Standards Quarterly (ISQ) magazine has a special issue theme of Views of the E-book Renaissance. ISQ Guest Content Editor, October Ivins of Ivins eContent Solutions has pulled together a broad range of perspectives on what is happening today with e-books and particularly with e-book standards. As she states in her introductory letter: "Our goal for this issue of ISQ is to present an overview of the status of e-books from multiple perspectives-publishers and other content producers, librarians, and the many vendors who support their creation, management, sales, and distribution. Not coincidentally, it also illustrates the scope of the NISO community."

  5. The Global eBook Market: current conditions and future projections (2011) An analysis of the current market in several countries around the globe and predictions for each of these markets.

  6. "Horizon Report 2011." The content of electronic books and the social activities they enable, rather than the device used to access them, are the keys to their popularity; nearly everyone carries some device that can function as an electronic reader, and more people are engaging with electronic books than ever before.
  7. "Horizon Report 2010." Already firmly established in the public sector, electronic books are gaining a foothold on campuses as well, where they serve as a cost-effective and portable alternative to heavy textbooks and supplemental reading selections.