Internet Librarian Rough Cut: Evolving Ebook Models

My raw notes from:

Evolving Ebook Models

A lot of good material here, except that ebook acquisitions remain fluid and chaotic. But there is  reason to hope.


Hutch Tibbets of DCL a no-show. Unfortunate but adds weight to rumors I’ve heard that the DCL model is falling apart. Would love to be proven wrong.

Evolving ebooks models – Megan Wong and James English

See handout for other details (on IL2014 password protected page)

Project LibrarySimplified

What – Group of Partners (many signers of ReadersFirst) including NYPL, Boston PL and Chattanooga PL

Charge – What would make Public Library easier to use?

Need for instant access, discoverability and easy checkout/download

Four teams created for various aspects of projects

Final product will be open source.

Team contacts for project or beta site  (Get from Slides)

Working on making ebooks 3 steps instead of 19 steps (even with integration)

By many measures, Libraries are failing with e-books.

(include chart? )

Ebooks are hard – 6% of AskNYPL calls are about ebooks, 93% of those calls are not closed.

Pain points – checking out, finding format, finding availability

Chart of book and ebook chains. In physical – libraries consumer, distributor, marketer, but in ebooks is simply consumer aka subsidize ebook readers.

What can we do?

Slide with many issues. A standout to me is to access broader market (self-publishing, independent publishers, public domain)


Librarian knowledge of books

Scale and money

public trust

NYC developer community

Mentioned opportunity in DRM alternatives (LCP, URMS)

Stop throwing good money after bad

Platforms generally exhibit lock-in

– Switching costs

      • Network effects
      • Barriers to entry

Open Standards Encourage Interoperable platforms. Think of ATMs

Standards and bodies. OPDS – Open Publication Distribution System, idpf

Open Web Platform (HTML 5) is the right foundation

EPUB is becoming accepted standard for document access

We need to ensure that library requirements are well-integrated with EPUB and web platform

Consider getting involved in Readium or idpf

Sourcing content directly could provide us the ability to serve more readers

Unit sales show that Indie publishers provide the most popular content source – Amazon and B&N Author Earnings Reports

Books without DRM sell at twice the rate of DRM books, Author sales again?

Libraries are highly intermediated with ebooks

LibrarySimplified are hope intermediate the vendors

Current approach

See slide for full list

Short term – Turn high-quality, public domain and mid-list titles into library bestsellers through new models of recommendation and discovery.

Long Term – Promote open source and inter-operable eBook technology

Keep at it – Approach publishers directly as opposed to aggregators about a different deal for libraries.

Progress to Date

Funding – $500K from IMLS, match from group

Received cost offsets from commercial and non profits players

We have a pre beta app that can present 80K-100K titles and distribute 40K today

Four months and $150K so far

On the board of Readium foundation

2 new technical specifications in the works for libraries (OPDS, LCP) ReadersFirst (NISO)

Currently pull from Overdrive, 3M and Public Domain

App is currently showing extra steps with multiple confirmations. Working on reducing this.

Plan on being multiDRM compatible

App currently uses Readium display, EPUB 3 compliant


Christine Peterson, Amigos

Slides are open to all at

Amigos eShelf Service

Gathered input from libraries on model

What’s taken so long?

DCL – Single library/single ILS/Single collection

Marmot Library Network – Consortium/Single ILS/Multiple Collection

Califa – Library consortium/Multiple ILSs/Single Shared Collection/Silo

Amigos difference – Publisher books will be hosted on Amigos, act as pass through as publisher. [Amigos as Overdrive?]

Goals – provide flexibility

Support Library as community publisher (libraries don’t have to host, can have Amigos host)

Resource for smaller libraries – looking affordable participation pricing

Issues and questions?

Separate or shared collections? Amigos participations want separate collections for now.

Build or Lease? Looked at licensing an existing platform, but none really satisfied.

NO settled model on ebooks

Peterson send previous project did not have an ordering module. Mad dash of dueling spreadsheet.

Screenshot looks kinda like OverDrive MarketPlace

Which ebook formats?

EPUB is the format everyone should be using. Amazon totally rejects EPUB. Options for Kindle – PDF and Mobi.

Amigos is asking publishers for EPUB and PDF at this point. In talks with Amazon, but not hopeful.

Metadata has been a challenge – only larger publishers will provide MARC, most ONIX or spreadsheets.

Amigos can’t draw from OCLC.

Amigos is having to map BISAC to LCSH, using a licensed map from Califa at present.

Work with publishers. Amigos started with small publishers, then larger (not big 5) publishers came knocking on Amigos’ door

Amigos believe in DRM, uses a standard agreement with all but two publishers – use Adobe Content Servers

Books purchased through Amigos may be taken with you into other platforms

Amigos is getting library discounts from publishers

Amigos eShelf Service


  • Can choose where to display ebooks
  • Can search across publishers
  • Keep deposit account with Amigos
  • Can host their ebooks on Amigos eShelf
  • Help local/independent authors


  • Hosts ebooks for publishers & libraries
  • Handles publisher negotiation
  • Provides RDA-compliant MARC records
  • Handles authentication
  • Handles billing and payment
  • Supports libraries and local/independent authors

Service will roll out to Amigos first. To non members in about a year.

NOTE: LibrariesSimplified will not host content themselves.


Ebooks and the public library in Europe

Helen Leech, Surrey Library Service and Shelf Free (}

Talked about how British library associations not nearly as assertive in lobbying as ALA

UK – Half of adults own smartphone

About a 1/5 of library authorities in UK are still not offering e-books

Ebook market in UK seem similar to US

But not into e-audio

Surrey started commuter promotions in 2010, had backlash from publishers.

This in turn generated activity including Shelf Free

Publishers initially insisted in in-library lending. Publisher’s Association could not make binding deals.

A campaign by Reading Agency helped publishers feel more comfortable. Also Parliament created an all party parliamentary group

Looks like UK willing to accept self-destructing ebooks

A physical book generates Public Lending Right revenue to author, but digital loans do not.

Ten things quoted from slides:

      • 1. Libraries don’t have the right to lend e-books. See
      • 2. Authors get paid (via Public Lending Right) when their physical book is borrowed from a public library, but not if it’s an e-book. The legislation hasn’t kept up.
      • 3. You can’t borrow library books on a Kindle.
      • 4. Library e-books and e-audiobooks are almost impossible for people with serious sight impairments to use. The combination of registration issues and the Digital Rights Management (DRM) software makes them almost unusable.
      • 5. You can’t borrow an e-book in a library (unless you bring your own device, and the library offers wi-fi. DRM means you can’t use library computers).
      • 6. Libraries can’t host and loan e-books themselves. They don’t have the technology. Third-party companies do it for them.
      • 7. Libraries can’t buy and own e-books, which are licensed. If a library service changes supplier, it loses the stock it has paid for.
      • 8. Roughly 85% of popular e-books are not available to public libraries. Publishers are anxious about how e-loans will affect their sales, and there’s no legal requirement for them to sell to libraries.
      • 9. Many library services help people to get started with e-books. They run public workshops, offer training and advice, and take e-readers and tablets to housebound users.
      • 10. Public libraries in the UK spend around £78m per year on books, and around £2m on e-books.
      • – See more at:

Leech talked about future directions in UK>

In Europe as a whole, EU Copyright Directive 2001 and the “exhaustion” doctrine/VAT situation are barriers. – i.e. No first sale type production.

Ebooks are growing in Scandivian countries.

Book Trade in Europe is serious turmoil

One in four Germans owns a tablet. In Germany, 620 out of 2100 libraries lend ebooks as of 2012

One in ten people in France own tablet, great resistance to e-reading. 2013, only 17% of French had read an ebook.

Information about Sweden was provided.

Things to watch (Maybe)

      • Sweden: Atingo – a relationship between the Publit publishing service and Axiell .  = Self published materials and pay-per-loan
      • France:  Library / bookshop partnerships via Pret Numerique en Bibliotheque, at Montpellier, Grenoble and Aulnay‐sous‐Bois
      • Sweden (again):  Stockholm Central Library – digitising Ordfront’s backstock in return for lending rights
      • Czech Republic:  Ebooks in all Libraries – libraries as part of digitisation process, providing statistics about use
      • Netherlands: Qinqo – retail cards for ebooks
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