Monday, October 19, 2009

First thoughts on: Lorbeer & Mitchell, eBooks in Academic Health Science Libraries

Against the Grain 20.5 (2008): p30-34. doi: (N/A, try the publisher web site) (University of Illinois Access)

Why should you read this:

A really quick read. Although it isn't research based- more of a "what we're doing here" piece - there are a few key quotes that are worth a look.

In brief:

Information about the University of Alabama School Of Medicine's move into/towards e-books is provided.

Interesting quotes and my thoughts:

"We found that there was a large portion of the… reading list that the Library was unable to purchase as eBooks. In many cases, publishers either have not digitized the content or the pricing model was just too rigid. Though librarians identified comparable titles that were offered as eBooks, course instructors were not willing to replace these titles. A majority of the core medical and nursing textbooks are still trapped inside bundled eBook platforms or copyright constraints" p. 32

Are you listening academic publishers and aggregators? I hear about, and read about, this problem all the time. We librarians want to give you our money. We want your content. We want (well, many of us :P ) the e-book revolution to (finally) happen. But you need to be reasonable and not expect to be able to enforce a purchasing model that doesn't allow for or punishes a la carte purchases. Bundling, sure, that's fine in general, but you must offer every title as an individual purchase!

"Investing in vendor supplied MARC records, a federated search engine, and Web 2.0 social applications like LibraryThing and Shelfari are just some of the ways in which the library can point users towards content." p. 32

"Despite efforts to educate faculty and students, there is still confusion regarding the concurrent seat model that almost every eBook publisher uses… most users' expectations about how platforms should operate are generally based on their experience with electronic journals and comprehensive literature databases. Explaining to faculty and students why publishers offer unlimited access to journal articles but only limited access to books and book chapters is futile" p. 32

Amen to that! And there shouldn't be _any_ confusion because the distinction between publication type and consumption restrictions doesn't exist for our users. Online stuff is online stuff, with the possible caveat that "stuff from the library" can generally be expected to be of a higher quality. If they find a link to something they want, only to get a (usually byzantine, to them) error message about "concurrent seating" they just assume that the resource is
broken, like a specialized version of a 404 error. Get with it publishers/vendors. Jump on the Springer/Morgan & Claypool bandwagon. Unlimited concurrent access to all materials, be they articles or chapters!

"…several inconsistencies with the way publishers digitize and sell eBook content… remain in the way… DRM technologies prevent students from downloading and printing the entire chapter of an eBook." p.34