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RE: Ebooks in libraries

In reply to the three Js: Joe, Jason and Jan;

Firstly, thanks for responding - I was clearly looking at the 
question narrowly, based on our niche experience in scholarly, 
social sciences publishing. Nonetheless, here are some reactions 
to the points made by the three Js:

For us, academic libraries are the largest piece of the library 
business because public libraries have never shown interest in 
our books. We've tried recently to get them interested, but the 
demand isn't there even at very low prices. This doesn't surprise 
me much, I don't imagine many look to public libraries for 
scholarly books so no wonder public librarians don't spend their 
budgets on us - isn't this the nub of the issue?

We publish in PDF-with-Excel (with a few titles in html) because 
that's what users seem to prefer. If users started emailing us 
with requests for different formats, we'd re-engineer. (off list, 
I asked Jason's advice on alternative formats and their 

OECD sells e-books without DRM - always has done (since 1998) - 
and we're selling more e-copies today than we ever sold in print. 
In theory, one e-copy could do the job, providing everyone took 
the time to share it around, but that's the crux, isn't it: 'if 
everyone took the time'? We believe that if we bundle useful, 
time-saving, services around the basic e-book, a sustainable 
business can be had. Isn't this what iTunes did?

On licenses, for the record, OECD allows librarians to use OECD 
iLibrary for ILL (electronically) and to create e-reserves. Other 
publishers might be like to know that encouraging maximum use of 
our service seems a good policy to have and hasn't brought the 
house crashing down financially.

Academic books might well 'have to piggy-back' on the consumer 
infrastructure, but is this new? In the print world, didn't the 
consumer infrastructure carry academic books too - in parallel to 
a niche academic infrastructure? My guess is that the current 
academic infrastructure for e-books will continue to evolve in 
parallel with a consumer infrastructure - after all, we have our 
iLibrary service running in parallel with our books on 
NetLibrary/E-books.com (for librarians who want to purchase them 
one-by-one) and, for consumers, on Amazon - and the coming Google 
service too.

But, no, I don't know how to get a public library to make Steig 
Larson's latest available in a non-annoying form . . .


-----Original Message-----
From: owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
[mailto:owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu] On Behalf Of Joseph Esposito
Sent: 31 October, 2010 6:15 PM
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject: Re: Ebooks in libraries

Yes, you missed the bulk of the books.

To begin with, academic libraries are only a small piece of the
library business.  And academic books are only a tiny (very tiny)
part of the book business.

More importantly, the form factor for the consumption of academic 
books and publications for academic libraries remains the PC 
(that is, when it is not print, including the printing out of 
PDFs).  The form factor for most ebooks is a mobile device: 
Kindle, Nook, iPad, Kobo, etc.

Third is the "one book to rule them all" phenomenon.  If books 
are to be sold to libraries in digital form WITHOUT DRM (and if 
there is anyone who likes DRM, I would like to know who it is), 
then the question is how to sell a second copy, as the first will 
effectively take care of the entire planet.

Finally, the infrastructure for networked computing, which 
includes ebooks, is being built for the consumer market for the 
simple but impossible-to=3Dget-around fact that that's where the 
numbers are. Academic books will have to piggyback on consumer 

When my local public library can make Steig Larson's latest 
available to me as an ebook in a form that is not annoying to 
use, then the knot will have been cut.

I don't know how to do this.  Do you?

Joe Esposito

On Thu, Oct 28, 2010 at 2:45 PM,  <Toby.GREEN@oecd.org> wrote:
> Joe,
> I'm really puzzled by your final comments - "publishers are still
> grappling with how to make e-books available to libraries. Who
> will be the first to cut the knot?".
> We, along with many other publishers ranging from Elsevier and
> Springer to OUP, the World Bank and even World Tourism
> Organisation, have successfully grappled, cut the knot and have
> ebooks available for libraries, including all front list titles
> and many backlist too (in our case, we've got everything back to
> 1998 in e-book form, around 5,000 titles in all).
> Have I missed something?
> Toby Green
> Head of Publishing
> Public Affairs & Communications Directorate
> 75775 Paris Cedex 16
> toby.green@oecd.org
> www.oecdilibrary.org