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Shaping a strategy for e-books Louise Edwards JISC Collections Manager [email protected] Outline What is an e-book? Overview of e-book industry Main issues on supply The lowdown on the aggregators Main issues on demand Economic models Forming a collection Marketing strategy

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Shaping a strategy for e books l.jpg

Shaping a strategy for e-books

Louise Edwards

JISC Collections Manager

[email protected]

Outline l.jpg

  • What is an e-book?

  • Overview of e-book industry

  • Main issues on supply

  • The lowdown on the aggregators

  • Main issues on demand

    • Economic models

    • Forming a collection

    • Marketing strategy

  • Conclusions and discussion

What is an e book l.jpg
What is an e-book?

  • A device by which to read books online

    • Multi-purpose e.g. Palm

    • E-book only e.g. Glassbook

    • Market specific e.g. GoReader

  • A book delivered by any online platform

    • Device

    • Pc or laptop via the Web

  • Material type

    • Monograph

    • Textbook

    • Reference

E book devices l.jpg
E-book devices





The supply side l.jpg
The supply side

  • Phase 1 (Late 1990s to late 2000)

    • Entrepreneurial activity in the US

      • New aggregators e.g. NetLibrary, Questia, Ebrary

      • New distributors e.g. Lightning Source, Versaware

      • New retailers e.g. Swotbooks

  • Phase 2 (Late 2000 to Late 2001?)

    • Funding dries up

    • Lower than expected sales

  • Phase 3 (Late 2001 onwards)

    • Consolidation

    • New players

    • Publisher direct

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Main supply issues

  • Availability of electronic format

  • Impact on distribution chain

  • Pricing

  • Understanding user demand

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Trends - availability of electronic format

  • Extremes of digitised assets, from 100% of titles to almost zero*

  • Costs of digitisation means selective conversion

  • Most academic publishers currently have less than 10% of front-list and back-list digitised

  • Even over the next five years, many publishers predict less than half of their content will be digitised*

  • New content will gradually be produced in electronic format as part of publishing process

  • Mixed views on print-on-demand

* Source: Publishing 2001

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Trends - distribution

  • Traditional and new players in the distribution chain

  • Some aggregators experiencing the ups and downs of the ‘ revolution’

  • Mixed views from academic publishers on the impact of e-books on the distribution chain

    • Around 50% agreed that distribution chains would change over next 5 years, 50% said not*

    • Many expect growth of direct publisher-customer relationship

    • Mixed views on role of traditional players in chain*

*Source: Publishing 2001

The economics of e books are very different l.jpg
The economics of e-books are very different

  • The relationship between libraries, booksellers, publishers and end users will change

  • Potential to sell content in a variety of ways

  • Financial transactions

    • outright purchase

    • subscriptions

    • pay-per-view

    • new models e.g. leasing

  • Content delivery

    • ‘complete’ individual e-books

    • subject bundles of ‘complete’ e-books

    • chapters; sub-sections

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Examples of e-book aggregators

  • NetLibrary

    • founded in 1998

    • Close relationship with libraries

    • Traditional library business model

    • Up for sale

  • Questia

    • Established 1998

    • 65,000 items in humanities and social sciences

    • Aimed at end user

    • Subscription period from 2 days to 1 year

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E-book suppliers (2)

  • Ebrary

    • Backed by Adobe and 4 large publishers

    • Free browsing, micropayments for output

    • Works direct or with partners


    • Publisher Butterworth-Heinemann

    • New approach to textbook publishing

    • Subscription model

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JISC E-Books Working Group

  • Mission: to provide leadership in establishing a strategy for the develop of electronic books for the benefit of the academic community

    • Monitor and influence ebook industry

    • Acquire content for the DNER

    • Achieve a sustainable economic model

    • Promote content exploitation

    • Understand impact on institutions, libraries and users

    • Advise on content creation

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Acquiring content: learning from NESLI

problems of ‘one-size fits all’ - lack of flexibility of single national deals

library budgets - devolved or centralised

flexibility of choice: bundles; unbundling; linking print and electronic

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The economics of e-books

Clifford Lynch

The battle to define the future of the book in the digital world

  • Can e-books be loaned or given to someone else?

  • Do you own an e-book or have access to it?

  • Can you copy an e-book for personal use?

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Marketing strategy

need to consult community extensively

e-books reps list already established

need to prioritise the targeting of specific content

current US bias in e-book collections

market research to map UK requirements

joint research with publishers?

engage user community in developing e-books collections development strategy

engage publishers in marketing initiatives

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User studies

  • University of Texas

    • One-third of e-book collection used

    • Heaviest use in computer studies, economics and business, medicine, engineering

    • Use of e-books through consortium access

  • Columbia University

    • On-line use concentrated on small number of titles

    • High student, low faculty use

    • Useful for identification, skim and then print

  • Cranfield University

    • No enthusiasm for online working

    • Useful as reference tool

Authoring l.jpg

  • Electronic version of a printed book or a new genre?

  • New authoring skills required?

  • Roles and relationship between publisher and author?

  • See history e-book project


Conclusions l.jpg

  • Need to consult the community extensively

  • Prioritise on specific content

  • Market research to map UK requirements

  • Find appropriate economic models

  • Undertake end-user studies

  • Engage all stakeholders, including publishers and faculty

E-book issues paper