Archive for Digital Library News
Throughout the recent controversy over inappropriate and explicit content being listed in ebook retail websites alongside children’s and middle grade titles, the same questions kept coming to the surface: how did this happen, and how do we prevent it? Unfortunately for the authors and publishers of much of the questionable content, the immediate solution was to block nearly all titles with adult themes. Two retailers shut down their ebookstores altogether, while Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo all removed titles that they felt were in danger of being found by young consumers.
While the content has been slowly replaced in a one-at-a-time fashion, statements from at least one retailer have announced the position that they are under no obligation to sell any titles that do not meet their standards for appropriateness. Another retailer, Amazon, has taken the steps to evaluate the keywords that self-published authors associate with their titles and has begun the process of removing ebooks whose metadata and keywords seem intentionally misleading.
But in order to protect consumers, OverDrive announced today that it has created an online children’s reading room for its partner libraries. The purpose of this cyber sphere is to provide a safe and vetted location for young patrons to enjoy all of the same features and benefits that other patrons can have through the main OverDrive portal.
“eBooks are not just for adults, and we believe this site will help us highlight some of the great children’s content that we have to offer,” said Sharon Grant, Digital Branch Manager at Kitsap Regional Library where the digital reading room was piloted. “More importantly, we believe this site will save people time because it effectively highlights books by reading levels, age groups and interests.”
According to the press release on the launch of this child-safe library environment, “The eReading Room is a safe environment for children, independent of the larger digital collection, yet easily accessible and fully integrated – seamlessly working with your existing catalog. OverDrive offers clean, friendly, simple design options and the choice of including juvenile and/or young adult fiction and nonfiction titles. All titles in the eReading Room are also cataloged by reading level, ATOS scores, and other reading metrics to help parents and teachers select titles to aid in literacy campaigns. Adults and kids can sample titles in OverDrive Read prior to checking out a title.”
Hopefully, efforts such as this one will be sufficient to protect the interests of all parties involved. While young readers should not be subjected to material that is willfully mislabeled with the express purpose of attracting children, authors who have taken the appropriate steps to put their content only in front of mature audiences should not suffer under the sweeping changes that retailers have had to make.
As if public libraries have ever had the problem of having too much money, news from the Speak Up for Libraries conference painted a dark picture of what the coming year may bring, at least for UK libraries. Concerns of budget cuts from public funding sources, worries over offering a full selection of new and updated titles within the libraries’ means, and fears about losing relevance among members of a digital culture cast a pall on the gathering.
But according to an article for The Bookseller, there were a wide variety of potential solutions offered for many of the key concerns libraries face. The first was to keep concrete data on hand about the wide reach of libraries among their patrons. This data would provide evidence for beleaguered city and town council members to see the effectiveness of libraries in order to hopefully help them continue to vote for funding.
The conference cited “ignorance” as one of the chief factors in causing harm to libraries, specifically ignorance of what libraries can offer to their patrons. With many users and politicians remaining unaware of the many ways a library contributes to the public other than just dusty, molded print books, it’s easy to understand why some people don’t feel the call to support libraries.
Perhaps the most important factor discussed was ways that libraries can demonstrate their relevance to both the public and the deciding policy makers. Rather than continuing to work in two camps–that of protest and of persuasion–speakers outlined the need for a united front for libraries and encouraged them to rely on demonstrating how vital they are within their communities. This important status comes down to seeking out the patrons who already take full advantage of their libraries and encouraging them to continue, while also reaching out to those members of the community who do not use the library. This outreach can attract more regular visitors by meeting needs that would-be patrons may not be aware of, such as streaming movies, magazine and newspaper downloads, ebook lending, MP3 downloads, and more.
Overdrive revealed exclusively to Good e-Reader at Book Expo America their new streaming video platform that allows libraries to offer video in addition to eBooks and audiobooks. Today the first phase of their pilot project is finally getting off the ground at the Los Angeles Public Library.
The video service ties into libraries existing ILS systems and titles are available to purchase instantly. The video titles are housed on the same platform as all of your eBook, audiobook and music titles, creating a simple, one-location user experience for the patrons. This means, that users can watch the videos in the same app as they use to read eBooks.
When libraries purchase videos a large number of titles are available under a one copy/one user access plan. They also offer Streaming Video collections under simultaneous access plans. OverDrive will also support new metered access models for streaming video such as Cost per Checkout (CPC) as required by select studios.
“OverDrive’s Streaming Video service allows us to expand the library’s e-media offerings while dramatically improving convenience and our users’ experience,” says Peggy Murphy, Principal Librarian and Collection Services Manager. “For the user, it couldn’t be easier. There are no apps to install, no software to download – like they’re used to doing with OverDrive Read, they can just click on a title and instantly enjoy!”
Rogers Media is likely the largest magazine publisher in Canada and they have pulled all of their digital editions out of Zinio. Rogers intends on launching their own Netflix-like app, called Next Issue magazine that will provide access to all of its magazines as well as dozens of high-profile American titles for a monthly fee. Rogers insists the decision to pull its titles from Zinio was not their own, and referred inquiries to trade association Magazines Canada.
Zinio has been inroads in distributing their digital magazines all over Canada and the US by way of Recorded Books. Recently Zinio started offering back-issues available to be purchased, instead of just the most recent issue. The Toronto Public Library trumpeted their relationship earlier this fall, saying the digital magazines were extremely popular, with about 55,000 copies checked out in since June. Many libraries are voicing their disdain about the whole situation.
Next Issue grew out of a joint venture started in 2009 by U.S. publishers Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp., and Time Inc. It provides subscribers with access to around 100 monthly magazines for $9.99 a month or both monthly and weekly publications for $14.99. Rogers’s Next Issue Canada service has adopted the same pricing as the U.S. service: $9.99 a month for monthly publications and $14.99 a month for monthly and weekly publications.
Libraries may not have the large selection of Canadian titles via Zinio as they had before, but there is silver lining. In January, Magazines Canada is rolling out Canada’s Magazine Store, promoted on its website as a “one-stop shop for all member titles.” The association states that its “relationship with digital circulation suppliers is changing, including our Zinio-based program.” It sure looks like Zinio is starting to get phased out and their one time allies are turning into direct competitors.
Launched in fifty libraries at the beginning of this year as part of a pilot program, OverDrive’s Media Station allows library patrons to employ the in-library ebook, audiobook, music and video sampling and checkout terminal. Today, the world’s largest distributor of digital content to academic and public libraries announced the Media Stations are widely available to their member libraries.
“The OverDrive Media Station has been really well received by our patrons. It’s rarely unoccupied,” said Jennifer Simon Halai, Librarian, Virtual Library Services at KCLS, in a press release. “During the day, adults are the dominant users, but after school and in the evenings, it’s the kids and teens who are engaging with it, usually with a smartphone or tablet in hand.”
According to OverDrive, the Media Station “enables libraries to showcase to the millions of in-library patrons their entire OverDrive digital catalog, including eBooks, audiobooks, music and video. Experienced or new users can browse, search and sample any of the media they find with the swipe of a finger. Patrons can instantly (without cables or pre-installed apps) send a link to any title from OverDrive Media Station to their favorite device for checkout using a QR code, email or text message (SMS).”
The Media Stations serve as a sampling portal that lets users try out content, as well as enhances the digital checkout process. This type of interactive interface is especially important for libraries whose patrons are still adjusting to the option to checkout ebooks and MP3 audiobooks, a concept that is still new to so many library users. OverDrive showcased the Media Station at several publishing events this year and has opened the platform to all libraries.
OverDrive, one of the world’s largest digital content and media suppliers to academic and public libraries, has rolled out a new update to its web interface that will make searching for content even more streamlined. The first enhancement helps ensure that users who access the interface via computer, tablet, or smartphone will see a very similar storefront, helping make searching easier by keeping information in as uniform a space as possible across the different platforms.
But it is the second feature, Recommend to Library, that may offer the most assistance to both patrons and library directors. By allowing students to search the OverDrive catalog for content and then clicking to recommend that title, libraries can keep up with what content their patrons are requesting. In addition, once a title has been added to the catalog by the library, the requesting patron will receive an email stating that it is now available through the library.
Of course, with so much recent attention focused on the accidental exposure of children to inappropriate subject matter in different ebook stores due to metadata miscalculation, OverDrive has taken measures to ensure that only age-appropriate content can be requested by patrons at public school libraries. Using the Recommend to School feature, students can only request that their libraries purchase titles “with Juvenile or Young Adult subject categories, titles that have school metadata, such as Lexile/ATOS scores, ortitles that have been added to other school library collections.”
Finally, teachers have been provided with even greater tools for seeking out student reading material. “Users are now able to search for titles based on standardized reading level information such as Lexile, ATOS and Accelerated Reader scores. This new metadata will assist teachers in identifying the most appropriate content for their students.”
Within the new interface, users can select from three different visual themes, can adjust their lending periods, and can alter their account settings to pre-select different categories of books.
Digital textbook rental company Chegg announced some time ago that they were taking the company public and inviting investors to come on board. While that’s a fairly common business strategy, joined recently by companies like social media giant Twitter, the current status of the stock sale is a positive sign for where the public and publishing industries are taking digital textbooks.
Priced at $11.50US per share and seeking the sale of 15 million shares, that would put Chegg with $172.5 million to take the company in a bigger direction. There is a provision in the stock prospectus for the number of shares to go even higher. At this point, Chegg is prepared to meet with potential investors and demonstrate what their intentions are, basically showing off the bang-for-the-buck that a sum like that would help them create.
It will be interesting to see what Chegg can produce with this level of investment can provide, given that Chegg already has over 180,000 titles in its catalog, with over 100,000 of those titles being digital textbooks, which it rents out for a semester at a time. Chegg has already created digital programs to help students with things like applications, financial aid searches and acquisitions, and more. The company estimates that around 30% of the college students in the US have access to material through its catalog, leading to its already 23% revenue increase this year.
eBook lending for libraries is still an issue for many reading consumers, and frustration on both sides of this issue still plagues both libraries and publishers. While libraries are concerned with meeting their budgets and offering relevant content in a way that keeps patrons looking to their libraries for material, publishers have to ensure that their authors are compensated and that they continue to earn enough of a profit to keep their doors open. To this end, the industry has seen everything from 300% price increases for libraries to purchase ebooks to artificial limits on the number of times an ebook can be borrowed.
A new model, though, may provide enough of a solution that libraries and publishers alike can feel confident in the transaction. Gale Virtual Reference Library, part of Cengage Learning, has launched its Usage-Driven Acquisition model, or UDA, which will allow libraries to purchase digital books based on how often and how much they are actually used, as opposed to licensing the ability to offer the titles. Gale’s customers will pay a deposit to access the entire database of titles for six months, and then at the end of the six month period, further pricing structures will be based on how much content was actually accessed by the libraries’ patrons. Under this model, libraries can enjoy unlimited simultaneous checkouts of each of the more than 2,000 titles in the imprint, because pricing is based on usage, not on ownership.
“The nature of e-book acquisition has changed considerably over the years and we have explored a number of models with customers in the past which have led us to today’s announcement,” said Nader Qaimari, senior vice president, sales and marketing for Gale, in a press release. “We want to expose more customers to the great learning and research opportunities offered by GVRL, and introducing this unique purchase model allows our customers to experience the platform with little risk and also enables them to make smart purchasing decisions that they can feel comfortable are meeting the direct needs of their user base.”
And the public has spoken. In 2012, GVRL was voted “Best Overall Database” by Library Journal‘s readers, thanks to features like support for thirty languages, read-aloud text features in nineteen different languages, the ability to translate an article, and more. While Gale is predominantly an academic content provider, it will be interesting to see if publishers and libraries are willing to adopt an unheard of model for typical library content by basing compensation on how much is actually accessed.
The Digital Public Library of America announced today that it has received a $990,195 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to build upon its network of library professionals and organizations to pilot a national-scale training system for public librarians. Under the grant, the DPLA will collaborate with its service “hubs”—regional digital library partners located in states and regions in the United States—to build curricular resources and implement hands-on training programs that develop digital skills and capacity within the staffs of public libraries.
The public libraries that participate in this pilot program will foster a greater understanding of local historical and cultural content, directing their communities to curated materials as well as a mass of relevant items in the DPLA and its associated collections. These libraries will have the opportunity to associate professional metadata with their collections, providing the ability to share their local heritage globally via the DPLA’s portal and platform. The Digital Public Library of America sees this initiative as an important step in its nascent DPLA Local program, which aims to tailor DPLA’s infrastructure for customized use in communities across the United States.
“From its inception, the Digital Public Library of America has partnered with libraries across America to help bring their riches to the country and the world,” said Dan Cohen, DPLA’s Executive Director. “With this generous grant from the Gates Foundation, we can extend this partnership to help local libraries and librarians take full advantage of what digital technology has to offer.”
Macmillan and Overdrive reached an agreement earlier in the year to experiment with eBooks into the library system. The deal was select titles from their Minotaur imprint and it looks like all sides were happy with the deal. This has prompted Macmillan to contribute close to 9,000 digital titles for entry into the Overdrive system.
Most of the eBooks available are considered backlist titles, which means they are older and have been around awhile. Still, library patrons will still be able to read stuff by Emily Giffin, Robert Jordan and Janet Evanovich.
These new additions will carry the same terms as current Macmillan titles: 52 checkouts or two years, whichever comes first. Libraries that want to purchase these titles can now do so via the Overdrive Marketplace.
Baker and Taylor have inked a new deal with publisher Macmillan to have their entire back catalog of 11,000 eBooks available for libraries. Anyone doing business with the Axis 360 platform will now have access to have any of these titles to purchase.
In early 2013, Macmillan started a public library pilot program with a select group of backlist ebooks from its Minotaur Books mystery and crime fiction imprint. Now, in addition to the current inventory of romance titles and thrillers from Minotaur books, public library patrons can enjoy best-selling, classic and high-demand titles from all Macmillan imprints such as Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Henry Holt, Macmillan Children’s, St. Martin’s Press and Tor. Newly available titles from Macmillan will be added as they become eligible for sale on a monthly basis.
“We are excited patrons will now have access to even more of Macmillan’s ebook catalog to borrow and enjoy,” said George Coe, President of Baker & Taylor’s Library & Education division. “Baker & Taylor is committed to working with our publishing partners to provide libraries with an outstanding selection of digital and printed materials for their patrons.”
An as-of-yet unformed Japanese company wishes to accomplish something that none has attempted befor:, setting standards for digital book distribution, their prices, and terms of using the service. The Japan Digital Library Service Co. is expected to become a reality during the first half of 2014 and comprises of equal stakes of publishers Kadokawa Corp. and Kodansha Ltd. as well as the bookstore Kinokuniya Co. The consortium has made it known that they are open to investments from other bookstores or publishers in future. The company, once formed, will look to provide services to schools and public libraries in future.
The attempt to set standards of operations for digital libraries does seem befitting of a country that has seen the evolution of ebooks and dedicated ebook reading devices earlier than anywhere else in the world. Sony, Sharp, and Toshiba were the initial players in this segment, and the ebook and ereader markets have seen massive overhaul since then, and ebooks and other digital content are a thriving business in Japan. However, it’s still Amazon that has gone on to become the market leader there after making its debt in 2012. Among the other major developments in the ebook scene in the far eastern nation is the acquisition of Kobo by the Japanese firm Rakuten.
eBook lending is in a state of frustratingly slow adoption, which is still a vast improvement from the initial phases when libraries struggled to adopt digital lending in light of back list or empty virtual shelves. A number of measures and the work of companies like OverDrive and 3M have allowed huge inroads in the lending market, and as 3M Library System’s Matt Tempelis explained from the Frankfurt Book Fair, it’s been a busy year for libraries and digital content providers.
“First, the announcement at the show is that we now have a ‘buy and donate’ program through Kobo. It’s easy to do an affiliate program, but what we did was negotiate a deal with Kobo so that it was a significant donation. Proceeds of the profits will go directly to the library and they can use it to buy additional collections, and we can take it from there. What that allows us to do is additionally support some of the publishers who are interested in the market, but are skeptical. We think we’re going to get even more reciprocity with those publishers who are on the sidelines.”
Tempelis spoke on the recent collaboration between digital media collection OverDrive and Sourcebooks, a project which sought to provide definitive numbers to the industry about how ebook lending impacts future sales of the title and of the author’s and publisher’s other books.
“It’s been a busy year. If you think about it, diversity in the ecosystem has helped prod some publishers back into the market, and hopefully 3M has played a role there. I’m really excited to hear those that have come back in this year are seeing additional sales to their businesses, just like we always thought. They’re not seeing the erosion that was hypothetical at the time, which only means there’s going to be more impetus for others to join.”
“We’ve always said, our first goal is to get everyone in the market and we can work out the details later. I always say there are going to be two or three models that are going to be prevalent, depending on the publisher.”
One of 3M’s recent innovations is the ability for libraries to stock their collections on their own servers as well as allow other libraries to work within their collections to share content.
“We have introduced our cloud-link functionality, and we’re rolling that out now with the Melsa group in Minnesota. It allows libraries to have their own private cloud, but they can share unused titles with sister or consortium libraries. The costs of a larger system means they buy more but there’s more cost, as we pay money every time there’s a circulation. The other thing we’re seeing a lot of is circulation of ebooks is really heavily skewed towards Kindle e-ink, whose users are still growing. But when they bring 3M on, they see another dramatic growth in circulation, literally doubling. It’s because, we think, that those people who’ve tried other systems and failed have kind of moved on. It gives people the opportunity to rediscover the platform. We’re really enjoying a dramatic circulation growth in the 3M cloud library as users are discovering our titles.”