2011 Medical eBook Publishing Trends Webcast

Yesterday I viewed the 2011 Medical eBook Publishing Trends Webcast hosted by Ovid and it was very interesting.  If you missed it the webcast will be available to watch in the archives in a few days. (As of 7/12/2011 the archive of the webcast is http://event.on24.com/r.htm?e=314699&s=1&k=5EFAD6B3E1DBFBB4865CD1939032BF8B)

Here are just some of the things I could piece together from my furious scribbling notes and memory:

While the media and Amazon have really raised awareness about ebooks, ereaders aren’t as much of an influence in the medical and medical library world.  However, that doesn’t mean our users don’t want ebooks. On the contrary, people are showing use their preferences are moving more and more to the electronic environment.

Mark Funk mentioned that digitization has happened in waves within the library.  The first wave was abstracts and indexes going online. The second wave was reference tools. The third wave is/was ejournals.  The fourth wave is ebooks.  He describes that this fourth wave is harder to implement than the electronic journals wave.  This primarily due to the differences in the delivered product.  A book is much larger, costlier, and complicated to put online than the regular STM journal article.  Unlike ejournal articles ebooks have authors that must be paid, require more editing, have more illustrating, and have individual sales, all of which make the cost of publishing an ebook more expensive than a journal article.

Mark stated (and please if I my notes are wrong and misquoting Mark please let me know), “Unlike ejournals most STM book publishers don’t want their items downloaded, printed, or put on multiple devices.”   This is different from ejournal articles and that those differences help make surfing the fourth wave a little more difficult than the third wave.

Deb Blecic  then described the various options for selection of ebooks and multiple methods for purchasing them.  Both publishers and aggregators are in the business of ebooks and each group has different options.   Both have package offerings but aggregators have offerings that might be from different publishers and therefore may have more variety.  However, digital rights tend to be better through publishers.

Not only are there different ways to select ebooks, there are different ways to “buy” them.  Depending on the publisher or aggregator libraries can rent or purchase outright.  In the past buying a book was a one time purchase, now with ebooks “purchasing” books becomes yearly online subscription somewhat similar to ejournals and databases. 

Deb listed a few things that librarians would like as ebooks move forward. These are:

  • The ability to search full text ALL of the library’s ebooks together (regardless of publisher, aggregator or platform)
  • No missing content. Still there are ebooks that are missing pictures and other content.  (Personally, I have seen this operate in the other direction too.  I see a lot print books that are missing information where images, videos, and whole chapters are sometimes online online.  I see this most often with Elsevier books and the frustrating Expert Consult).
  • Reasonable purchase models
  • DRM that maximizes the value to patrons and allows for use on mobile devices
  • Guaranteed perpetual access for purchased e-books (An interesting comment was made at the end of the webcast that during depositions and legal matters healthcare providers must show that they were providing what was considered the standard of care at that time.  If they what that information is in a ebook textbook. Tha online edition may be well be long gone by the time of the legal event to be used as proof. So there needs to be some consideration for preservation.)
  • ILL and preservation options, perhaps Portico or LOCKSS.

 Liz Lorbeer talked about the implementation of a Patron Driven Acquisition (PDA) pilot program at Lister Hill Library.  PDA can be unmediated and mediated. It appears that Liz created a sort of mixture of a unmediated and mediated PDA program.  She preselected a batch of nursing titles and books that were $175 or less could be selected and purchased by patrons.  If a patron selects a book that is more expensive than $175 then that generates a purchase request to be sent to the librarian for consideration. 

Liz mentioned Patron Driven Acquisition is another component of collection development NOT a replacement of the subject.  This statement really resonated with me.  Librarians have always solicited opinions from their patrons, this is just a streamlined electronic version of that process.  Librarians worried about patrons going wild, selecting books to purchase all willy nilly can do a lot to prevent the possible spending spree by preselecting possible books to purchase and set a price limit. 

I was speaking to a colleague yesterday after they webcast and she told me that she learned at the NOTSL Spring 2011 meeting on patron driven acquisition that 40% of the circulating collection of academic libraries doesn’t circulate.  Wow what a large number and a huge waste of money.  It was so shocking that it caused my colleage to run the numbers at our library to find out how much of our circulation collection didn’t circulate.  Wouldn’t you want a collection your people use?  Patron driven acquisition helps with that.

Jennie Stewart spoke about ebooks from the publisher’s perspective.  Publishers are faced with trying to deal with users demands that ebooks do everything that print does and more so, including portability.  According to her not all books are prime to be ebooks.  Publishers have to look whether the book should be an ebook, what platform, and what type of user (individual, institutional, or both). 

While understood what Jennie was saying, it was hard for me to grasp the concept  that not all books can/should be ebooks (perhaps somebody has a good example) and why you would not make all books available to individuals also available to institutions.  Those to concepts are difficult for me to process because I am not in the publishing world.

Finally Dan Doody presented a snapshot of of ebooks in libraries.  He had several interesting statistics about the ebooks available and librarian vendor choices. 

In 2010, 1326 of the 2213 books were available electronically.  Of the books available electronically 36% had a 2009 copyright, 32% had a 2010 copyright and 23% had a 2011 copyright.  Dan said he expected these numbers to increase because as embargo periods end more books with 2010 and 2011 copyrights will become available.

I have to admit embargo periods on ebooks was a bit of a surprise to me.  I am so used to them for journal articles I had never thought that publishers were waiting to make their books available electronically after a period of time. 

Overall, the webcast was very good.  There was a lot of information and they moved very quickly through it, so I know I am missing information.  If you attended it and you want to add to my notes here, correct an error please feel free to comment.  I look forward to when the webcast is available on the archive and I can fill in the holes in my notes.

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