Links to public libraries ebook lending review report and responses

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The independent report of ebook lending in English public libraries has now been published. The link below will take you to the report itself and the government’s response to it.
The key recommendations are:
  • The provisions in the Digital Economy Act 2010 that extend PLR to audio books and loans of on-site e-books should be enacted.
  • Further legislative changes should be made to allow PLR to take account of remote e-loans.
  • The overall PLR pot should be increased to recognise the increase in rights holders.
  • A number of pilots in 2013 using established literary events should be set up to test business models and user behaviours, and provide a transparent evidence base: all major publishers and aggregators should participate in these pilots.
  • Public libraries should offer both on-site and remote E-Lending service to their users, free at point of use.
  • The interests of publishers and booksellers must be protected by building in frictions that set 21st-century versions of the limits to supply which are inherent in the physical loans market (and where possible, opportunities for purchase should be encouraged).  These frictions include the lending of each digital copy to one reader at a time, that digital books could be securely removed after lending and that digital books would deteriorate after a number of loans.  The exact nature of these frictions should evolve over time to accommodate changes in technology and the market.
There have already been a number of responses to it from various individuals and  organisations (below), mostly welcoming the majority of the report’s recommendations.

I’m not going to comment on it here (please take at look at Voices for The Library response), but I did just want to highlight this section on the opportunities that could come from ebook lending:

For libraries, embracing a digital strategy could give them a better way of communication with their members, helping them to bring a larger footfall into their buildings for events and services.  For publishers, digital lending could bring them closer to the book-borrowing and book-buying public.  And for writers, the extension of PLR to the digital and audio world would allow for much more accurate financial recognition for the borrowing of their books.  If a digital sales platform is developed, as part of a library catalogue, through which local booksellers can be promoted, this may support the development and the sustainability of these retail outlets as part of the local high street.

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Library Ebook Trends on Google

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When discussing ebook use in libraries I was reminded by @ShedSue of Google Trends. This service allows you to enter keywords/search terms and presents you with statistics about how commonly those keywords are used in Google searches. Sue had already presented some stats on ebooks using it, but I put together a rough report of keywords that people might use when looking for ebooks in the UK, focusing on “ebooks”; “downloaded ebooks”; “free ebooks”; “library ebooks” searches. I really wanted to see how commonly the phrase “library ebooks” featured ie how often people searched for that phrase compared to the others – it didn’t do very well. In fact it came a distant last to all of the other keyword searches.

The Google Trends report for each of the keyword searches also provided a list of related keywords that people searched for as well as that keyword. eg When people searched for “ebooks” they also searched for the following:

  • ebooks free
  • ebooks download
  • ebook
  • ebooks kindle
  • kindle
  • ebooks for free
  • free books
  • amazon ebooks
  • ebooks uk
  • free ebook

Alongside these related keywords the report also featured “Rising searches” ie those related keyword searches that were increasing in popularity. eg For “ebooks” they were:

  • amazon ebooks
  • ebooks kindle
  • kindle
  • kindle ebooks free
  • ebooks for free
  • ebooks uk
  • pdf ebooks
  • ebooks download
  • ebook
  • free books

In all of the related keyword and rising search results for  “ebooks”; “downloaded ebooks” and “free ebooks”, the thing that struck me the most was that the keyword “library” didn’t appear once. “free” did, plenty of times. – but no sign of “library”.

Also, even though related and rising search results from the “library ebooks” search retrieved phrases containing the word “library” in them, there were still plenty of references to other non-library searches that highlighted people were also searching for similar keywords/phrases used in the other 3 searches. However, when searching in the other 3 ways (“ebooks”; “downloaded ebooks” and “free ebooks”) people didn’t automatically consider searching for the phrase “library ebooks”.

So, it appears that even though people in the UK are looking for ebooks via the internet, they’re not really considering libraries as a place to find them. If they were wouldn’t we see “library ebooks” appearing in the related keyword search lists?

If we are to develop ebook services in UK libraries shouldn’t we be aiming to push “library ebooks” higher up those related keyword search lists? The higher it is, the more likely our ebook library services will feature in Google search results and the more we will draw people to our library websites and to the many other library services we have on offer alongside our ebook services.

The report I pulled together can be found here.

Here’s a live link to the Google Trends page these searches generated.

Disclaimer: These are just initial thoughts off the top of my head and any further input on this would be appreciated.

Newsweek Print versus E-book Infographic

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I enjoy the creativity in infographics – it beats looking at data as figures or on a bog standard pie chart or graph. I thought the Newsweek infographic created to show a comparison between printed books and e-books was fun. It’s set out like a poster for a boxing match. The details of the two contenders are set side by side – a weighing up of the pros and cons of the each type of book. It was interesting to see how things balanced out between the two.

At the top of the poster it asks if there has to be a winner, suggesting that the two can live side-by-side for a long time to come. Figures are given for average production, royalties and sales (in US $). It also humourously suggests that printed books are great if you want to impress a stranger with what you’re reading and e-books are great if you want to hide your reading habits from them.

However, out of all the information presented there, the main thing that appealed to me from the point of view of a librarian was the statement “Walking to the library is still the most ecofriendly way to read.”

It’s a great acknowledgment of the greenness of libraries! Not only do we recycle books, but getting access to them is environmentally sound too.