Nate Hoffelder at the Digital Reader recently posted a blog post about librarians and government officials coming together to call out publishers on their often ridiculous and/or unrealistic library ebook terms.
I especially like that Mr. Hoffelder thinks this is the start of a growing trend. I think it actually started with Capstone interactive ebooks in the school library market offering unlimited access ebooks for sale, but that’s just my opinion.
Around the time Capstone did that, I remember attending an ebooks panel session at PSLA Annual Conference and asking Overdrive vendors if they offered or would ever offer that feature. Their response was dismissive and caustic. If we wanted ebooks at our library, they told the 60+ librarians present, we would only get them on their terms. After such a rude response, I decided that Overdrive wouldn’t be getting any of the library budget money from my school if I had anything to say about it. I bought Capstone web-based ebooks instead, and I’ve never regretted that choice.
After Capstone started offering unlimited, simultaneous access, however, so did Follett through Destiny Titlewave…then Baker and Taylor through Axis360…the Mackin through MackinVIA. The trend continues. And while I still don’t like librarians being locked into a proprietary software with pricey annual subscription fees, I think we’re getting somewhere.
We’re seeing the growing pains of a market that hasn’t yet realized that we can all get what we want from ebooks, if only we’ll listen to each other and learn to compromise a little.
I think we are now in the middle of a big opportunity. Librarians, we need to show the publishers that initiatives like this are both profitable for the publishers and vendors, AND can suit our needs as school librarians. We need to support publishers and vendors with library-friendly licensing with our time and dollars if we want to have a “seat at the table” of ebook licensing terms.
We’re getting closer to actual, feasible solutions for ebooks in libraries, that much I’m sure of. My hope is that in 1-2 years, we’ll have some models that will work for most school and public libraries serving children, and that will encourage the majority of librarians to finally take the leap into ebook materials for their collections.