Tag Archives: Ebooks

Are Secret Deals Keeping eBook Prices High?

The U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust arm said it was looking into potentially unfair pricing practices by electronic booksellers, joining European regulators and state attorneys general in a widening probe of large U.S. and international e-book publishers.

Read the rest of the story at the LA Times.

The publishing industry has been struggling for some years. I want it to survive with health and diversity. But…

Is is ever right to save an industry by cheating?

Via Library Link of the Day

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Will the book you read yesterday be available tomorrow?

Browsing last night I came across a wonderfully positive article, Platt Middle School’s library using Nooks to get kids reading.

“I’m reading a lot,” he said. “It’s a lot easier than lugging a big book around and you never lose your page. I like how it’s new, but it still looks like a book page. It’s really cool.”

The Nook has a text-to-speech feature that I really wanted for struggling readers and the Kobo does not, but the Nook is not available in Canada. Nevertheless after reading the article, I though, That’s It,! I’m going to bite the bullet, get some gift certificates, start buying popular books for my Kobo, and then get in line for some funding for some more of these little gems. It’s time.

There was one sentence that made me squirm a little. Platt has 50 eReaders and has uploaded 28 different books on each one. “Just” two Nooks have been broken so far. That’s 56 books! Even if they only averaged $5.00 per book, that’s $280 plus the cost of the reader! Yikes! That’s a little scary. I don’t think I could in good conscience charge a student five to six hundred dollars for breaking a ‘book’.

So, I’m back to caution again, when I come across eBooks on Fire by Charles Hamaker.

Ubiquitous web and print ads tell individuals and libraries to “buy” ebooks. But long-term preservation and retention rights to stable content are not the norm, because many resellers and vendors don’t possess those rights from the publisher or author. Instead of true ownership, most ebook “purchases” are more like leases, and leases with few residual rights at that. The only way to assure continuing access and storage for an ebook is a permanent download to a device with rights not governed by strict DRM (Digital Rights Management) systems. With content delivered from a hosted service on the web (aka the cloud), the “purchaser” has no control over the content. Even Google Books bears the disclaimer:

‘[I]f Google or the applicable copyright holder loses the rights to provide you any Digital Content, Google will cease serving such Digital Content to you and you may lose the ability to use such Digital Content.’

The extensive article lays out several issues with eBooks including the publisher’s right to modify the contents.

The ability to modify the published text without notification, tracking, versioning, archiving, or any other means that might provide the original text for readers is destructive to the tradition of the history of the printed word and the tradition of Western scholarship.

Hamaker makes a point of one of the major issues for libraries: the license under which eBooks are purchased. He uses as an example from Simon and Schuster.

S&S (Simon and Schuster) grants you a limited, personal, non-exclusive, revocable, non-assignable, and non-transferable license to view, use, and/or play a single copy of the Materials and download one copy of the Materials on any single computer for your personal, non-commercial, home use only,

Libraries would be expected to purchase institutional rights.

Hamaker discusses issues of confidentiality,   archiving, borrowing and lending rights (which has implications in the economic divide) and and points out how libraries must be aware of the difference between buying a digital material and printed books, which can be in the collection as long as it they are required.

Who owns the book? Ebooks are a challenging area for libraries. Licensing is a critical issue because ebooks are being marketed as if they were analogous to print purchases. They most definitely are not. They can be available one day and gone the next.

This article is a must read for all libraries considering the eBook issue and further supports my feeling the decisions must be made and policies put in place at the school district level before our libraries can safely venture into the eBook market.

Note: I’ve added a category for eReaders in the School Library for those who want to see all posts relating to this vexing issue.

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eReaders in our School Library: Just a Fantasy?

Two or three times a year the library managers in our district have a chance to get together on professional development days. For the past 2 years we have been rotating our meetings throughout the thirteen schools. On Thursday I happily drove the 130 kilometres (81 miles) round-trip to the Neerlandia and Barrhead libraries in the very centre of our district (map). It is always inspiring to visit other libraries and talk with people facing similar joys and challenges.

Our hosts arranged for Jocie Wilson, our regional library (YRL) representative, to give us presentations on read-alouds for Christmas, which I will show in a separate post, and on how we are going to use eReaders in our library.

To commemorate their 45th anniversary, YRL recently gave each of our libraries a Kobo Vox. We were all thrilled to receive them, excited but completely in the dark about how our school libraries can offer them as a service to our students and staff despite having considered many factors as described previously in another post.

How we might use eReaders in our school libraries

  • Many copyright-free books are available; the eReader could be used to house up to 2000 books that otherwise would not be purchased by the library.
  • eReader could be used by the Resource teachers for one-on-one reading with struggling and reluctant readers
  • As best sellers can be available for purchase on same day the print book is released, the readers would be a great draw for teens who are eagerly awaiting a particular title.

Jocie went through the set-up and elaborated on the benefits and challenges, which seem to be steadily mounting, possibly precluding their use in our district  for the time being.

Challenges to eReader service in our school libraries

  • Administrative access to school computers is required to download and manage Kobo Desktop (KD) and Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) software and the frequent updates. Most of our library staff do not have these privileges.
  • eBook loans on Overdrive are licensed for personal use only, precluding legal lending to students
  • Publishers have learned from the music world and are going to great lengths to use eBooks to recover their struggling industry. Harper Collins has authorized eBook purchases of their books for 26 reads only and now Penguin has suspended eBook sales to Overdrive customers until they finalize a similar policy. Other publishers are likely to follow suit.*
  • New eBooks do not cost any less than their print counterparts despite the lack of printing costs.
  • School credit cards are not available, making eBook purchases awkward, best done with gift certificates purchased through Kobo, Chapters/Indigo etc.
  • Individual eBooks have to be purchased for each Reader. There has been talk of loading class sets of eReaders with all possible textbooks and novel studies for that grade, but if an eReader is lost or destroyed, every purchased book that was on it is gone.
  • Wireless on readers has to be locked to prevent borrowers from resetting
  • A single account can be held on up to 5 computers
  • Each eReader requires its own account on KD and ADE
  • …and niggling a bit…the ADE application is a bit glitchy

So what are we to do now?

I am luckily to have admin access to my computers, so I set up the Kobo the day I received it. I have loaded free books and read a few, familiarizing myself with using it. I like the dictionary, highlighting and notes features and can see value for students. I’m planning on loading it up with free books for now and casually scoping out potential uses. I’ll have it in the library and perhaps offer it to students who are not settling during their class silent reading time.

At the least, it might keep them busy browsing the Kobo library.

Hopefully we will all be able to do this now after the IT people get them all set up. Then we’ll just have to hang tight until we figure out whether there might be some way we can pool our resources and work out solutions to the above challenges.

eReaders are a reality. They cannot continue to be just fantasy for our school libraries forever.

* For a great article on publishers and libraries see “9 Reasons Publishers Should Stop Acting Like Libraries Are The Enemy and Start Thanking Them” by Bobbi Newman.

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Addendum:  January 15, 2012 As demand for e-books soars, libraries struggle to stock their virtual shelves, Washington Post. Thanks to Stan for this link.

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Filed under eReaders in the School Library, Rethinking My Library, Technology

SLJ Warns that School Libraries Will Need to Organize for Ebook Purchases

Buyer Beware: Ebooks are a key purchase, but not by single libraries.

“Right now, ebooks only make economic sense when purchased as part of a consortium. You need to be part of a larger group sharing the costs and distribution of ebooks. And your library needs to carefully consider the type of ebooks being considered.”

“For example, if you bought an ebook for $20, a group of 50 schools might buy the same book for about five times as much, or $100 instead of 50 times as much or $1,000. Given a budget of $5,000, your library could purchase 250 ebooks. However, if you pooled your $5,000 along with the other 49 schools in the consortia, the group would have $250,000 and could purchase 2,500 books at the reduced group rate.

“Given that scenario, you could have 250 books for your library or shared, unlimited, simultaneous access to 2,500 books. The math seems clear to me.”

More at the link.

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Filed under eReaders in the School Library, Library Management, Technology