Read it! New Products and Development in E-Books (2012)

Panel 13, June 18, 2012, 1:30 pm-3:30 pm
Moderator: Adán Griego, Stanford University
Presenters: Felipe Varela, E-Libro; Lluis Claret, DIGITALIA; Kathryn Paoletti, Casalini Libri; Mariana Meyer, Elsevier Latin America& The Caribbean
Rapporteur: José O. Díaz, The Ohio State University

Moderator Adán Griego (Stanford University) opened the presentation by explaining the ground rules: fifteen-minute presentations with a two-minute warning from the moderator. He also asked panelists to refrain from turning their presentations into commercials. He requested that the audience save their questions until the end. Griego introduced the topic by summarizing recent developments in the availability of e-books and e-book readers in the United States and Spain. He indicated that incoming first-year “digital native” undergraduates will have spent 20,000 hours watching TV, more than 10,000 hours playing video games, and less than 5,000 hours reading printed materials. He offered some examples of how digital is now in vogue. In Seattle, Washington, for example, public libraries have recruited younger users to assist more mature patrons with technology and the New York Times recently featured a story on e-books in public libraries. Griego also pointed out that in the United States, library users now have access to more than 30,000 e-books in Spanish. This year in Spain, a quarter of all Spanish ISBNs have been assigned to e-books. Additionally, in the last two years, nearly a million e-readers have been sold. In short, the e-book is here to stay.

Griego asked the presenters to address the new reality of e-books and how they have challenged the traditional library mission of acquiring, accessing, organizing, preserving, and loaning materials. He also asked them to comment on issues related to pricing and access, ownership versus subscription, text mining, pick-and-choose versus packages, purchasing power, archiving policies, e-readers compatibility, and interlibrary loans.

The first presenter was Felipe Varela (E-Libro). His presentation was entitled, "The E-Books We Need in Our Libraries." E-Libro includes more than 160 publishers and makes available over 48,000 titles. Currently, E-libro is adding 700+ titles a month. Twenty-two percent of its content is non-academic and is available in GOBI, YBP’s acquisition and collection management interface. E-Libro is hosted on the Ebrary platform and includes over 9,000 Spanish-language titles including e-books, journals, articles, and doctoral theses. It charges $5,000 per university or $4,000 each on a consortium basis. E-libro is the only e-book vendor that enables librarians, free of charge, to upload, integrate, and share their own digital content with DASH, which allows you to create highly interactive databases of special collections, government documents, reports, internal documentation, and literally any document in PDF or that can be turned into PDF.

The second presenter, Lluis Claret (DIGITALIA), presented "Digital Projects: from Distribution to Publishing." DIGITALIA offers e-books and e-journals of an academic level for libraries and research institutions. The company’s goals are to furnish top quality content in Spanish to libraries, professors and students, and to become a leader in the provision of academic titles in Spanish. DIGITALIA includes more than 8,000 titles distributed in collections, such as: Art and Architecture, Literature, Cinema, Science, Engineering and Computer Programming, History, Philosophy, Religion, Business and Economy, Law, Linguistics and Philology, Political Science and Social Sciences. DIGITALIA furnishes access to publications published by Spanish and Latin American publishing companies. It also offers a backlist, newest releases, and adds an average of 300 titles a month to its database. DIGITALIA offers three purchasing models: annual subscription, the purchase of individual collections, and a “pick and choose” option. DIGITALIA provides subscribers the right to print out documents, unlimited number of users, access using IP addresses, compatibility with remote users via the Proxy system, compatibility with tablets furnished with internet connections, such as the iPad, Samsung, iPhone, etc., a stable URL, permanent link, and MARC records. Additionally, in DIGITALIA each item contains its own table of contents with a fold-out menu that represents the summary of the entire document in order to facilitate surfing within each work. DIGITALIA will join Portico’s preservation services in 2012. Finally, users of DIGITALIA can choose whether to visualize the documents in an HTML or PDF format.

The third presenter, Kathryn Paoletti (Casalini Libri), presented "Torrossa: the Casalini Libri Full Text Platform for E-books and E-journal Content from Romance Language Countries." Paoletti explained that Casalini Libri’s full text platform offers access to over 200,000 articles and chapters, 10,000 e-books and 480 e-journals from over 150 Italian, Spanish, French and Portuguese publishers. She described Torrossa as a small yet very good platform. Casalini Libri offers two dedicated venues for the sale of electronic content to academic institutions and trade markets via the Torrossa platform. The Torrossa platform features full text content in PDF format, updated weekly, and now comprises thousands of e-books and hundreds of e-journals, available at the article and chapter level. Private individuals can browse Torrossa via the Torrossa store and purchase chapters and articles. Casalini Libri offers research institutions access to collections of content via the Torrossa site on a subscription basis. The content brings together a number of prestigious publishers in the fields of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Currently, documents can be downloaded onto mobile devices that support Adobe software. A Torrossa app to purchase and download content to Apple devices will be released shortly. Other services provided by Torrossa are RSS feeds; a user workspace; copy, print, and download capabilities; and compatibility with Refworks, End notes and bibliographic tools. Like other providers of e-books, Casalini Libri is facing increasing costs from publisher, difficulties in obtaining rights to the materials, and issues with interlibrary loans.

The fourth presenter, Mariana Meyer (Elsevier), closed the session with her presentation, "Embracing the E-book to Accelerate Science." Meyer’s presentation centered on the question: Are researchers going to use e-book and how? According to Meyer, most researchers commence their research process searching monographs followed by journal articles. What Elsevier is trying to do is to place both journals and books in the same platform, thus facilitating the researcher move from one format to the other. Meyers described the Elsevier platform as fully integrated and containing high quality publishers. Elsevier offers 24X7 access, unlimited users, downloads, e-mail, and unlimited printing. Elsevier, Meyers explained, offers a different e-book experience that includes videos and searchable and pictures that may be updated. Additionally, Elsevier’s platform allows for direct links to journals, reference works, articles cited, application tabs, and phone apps for smart phones and androids. The platform now contains 15,000 e-books including reference works and handbooks but only 74 books in Spanish and 40 in Portuguese.

Questions & Comments:

Tony Harvell (University of California, San Diego) indicated that he gets a lot of pressure from his institution to provide interlibrary loan (ILL). In the print world, he explained, librarians would not photocopy an entire book. The digital rights management makes it very difficult to do the equivalent of ILL. He asked the presenters “Are platforms and providers thinking of other ways to provide that service without downloading and sending out one PDF at a time?”

Valera (E-Libro): “In my experience, the problem resides with the publishers. They remain unwilling to make their information available and losing revenue. The change is coming but moving too slow.”

Claret (DIGITALIA): “A couple of years ago we started to include in the license agreement a provision for interlibrary loans (only portions of the book though). DIGITALIA is experimenting with limited loan periods that would allow other universities to use the books perhaps for a fee.”

Paoletti (Casalini Libri): “Italian publishers have no problem with loaning books or chapters via ILL agreements. Spanish publishers, on the other hand, remain unwilling to allow for ILL.” She described the situation as evolving. Publishers in general are waiting to see what models are coming out that will protect and/or enhance their revenue streams.

Meyer (Elsevier) indicated that for Elsevier, this has not been a huge issue because the demand for ILL is not there. This is due to the fact that research patterns in the physical science are very different from the humanities and social sciences.

Laura Shedenhelm (University of Georgia) added that as a doctoral student, she is trying to decide how to use an electronic novel. How can she make notes and annotations on a borrowed e-book? As a researcher she intends to go back and revisit the book.

Claret (DIGITALIA) indicated that it all hinges on user demand. There has to be a market to move publishers to make changes. In some cases we are seeing demand in areas such as preservation (e.g., PORTICO).

Griego (Stanford) asked Harvell (UCSD) to explain PORTICO.

PORTICO, Harvell explained, is a digital preservation archive. Libraries and publishers pay to have access and preserve content via PORTICO. Libraries have access to that content for which they have paid a subscription. A competing alternative to PORTICO is Stanford’s LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe).

Rashidah Khan-Vire (University of Trinidad & Tobago) asked about the availability of secondary school textbooks in electronic format.

Valera (E-Libro) indicated that E-libro does provide a collection of secondary education materials. They have some costumers in Venezuela and Colombia.

Harvell (University of California, San Diego) added that Ebrary has few e-books for secondary education.

Meyer (Elsevier) indicated that her company is in the process of making more textbooks available via the Science Direct platform. Elsevier, she concluded, offers 80 university level textbooks via “pick and choose.”