From glass half empty to glass half full: evaluating the current ebook environment

For Immediate Release
Wed, 12/16/2015


Nancy Gravatt

Press Officer

Washington Office

ALA Washington


Washington, D.C. – Three years ago, major publishers refused to sell ebooks to libraries, no one knew how to download an ebook file, and the staffs of public libraries were hit with an unforeseen surge of patron interest in ebooks.  Now that the dust has settled and the ebook market has matured, where are we?   A distinguished panel of speakers will sort out that question as they describe how things have changed and what libraries can expect in the not so distant future during a panel presentation being held at the American Library Association (ALA)’s Midwinter Conference at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.   Hosted by ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP), the session takes place Sunday, January 10 at 8:30 - 10:00 a.m.

Expert speakers include:  Mark Kuyper, Executive Director, BISG; Andrew Richard Albanese, Publishers Weekly; Kelvin Watson, Chief Innovation and Technology Officer, Queens Public Library; Erika Linke, Associate Dean, University Libraries Director of Research & Academic Services Carnegie Mellon University; and Carolyn Anthony, Director Skokie Public Library.  Linke and Anthony are co-chairs of ALA’s Digital Content Working Group.

“The standoff between public libraries and publishers who refused to sell ebooks to libraries has settled, but questions about the future of ebooks remain,” OITP Program Director Carrie Russell said.  “The market for print remains strong in spite of predictions that print is dead, which leaves us to wonder, was the ebook business surge just a fad?”

Russell cited a number of questions that the panel will discuss:  How can libraries and publishers increase discovery of ebooks and authors in an environment flooded with books, music, games, movie, and television programming competing for consumer attention?  What do the acquisitions of aggregator services by foreign companies mean for library contracts? Do we envision additional publishing mergers?  Will the indie publishers and self-published authors make additional headway in the market? Does all of the data collected in the last 4 years really tell us anything about what to expect in the future?

The panel will consider these questions and more, and conclude with one example of a public library preparing to make all of its digital holdings available on user circulated tablets. It will lead us to address the question, “Is this the future?” Russell said.

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with more than 58,000 members in academic, public, school, government, and special libraries. The mission of the American Library Association is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.