• Library Planning Research

    What is the value of an ebook?

    In “In the Era of eBooks, What Is a Book Worth? (I),” a very important discussion has begun. Indeed, what is the value of an e-book?

    At ACA, we are developing new library service concepts to support e-book technology. Our research shows that print titles are no longer required to take up the majority of library space. Furthermore, book technology continues to expand with digital portals and new learning styles. But, what is the e-books value? Does its value go down if there is no extra cost to duplicate the content? Do libraries matter in this debate?

    In the next couple of years, publishers are going to have the difficult task at defining their marketplace. They will design and develop new product offering to create a viable cost system. In the end, this system is going to show that “library as place” matters as a promotion tool. Librarians should develop ways to market and support e-book growth.

    According to conversations our team had at ALA midwinter with Overdrive, libraries are going to be a marketing opportunity for book publishers. Publishers are going to continue to provide new titles to libraries just to generate a community buzz. The library space will need to support the book world, because there will be less retail space for browsing and testing e-book products.

    Librarians know patrons will experience e-books via Mobiles, Pads and Laptops in their library. From our perspective, its’ the space that matters…Indeed, the Library’s spaces are going to be the driving factor in e-book marketing efforts. This is an exciting time to be a librarian. It is an exciting time work in a library and generate new and different ways to interact with the new types of book technology.

  • Library Planning Research,  library technology,  work in progress

    The Economics of Ebooks

    Readers are taking advantage of the rapid expansion of digital technology and starting to use digital books or e-books. The attached diagram illustrates the projected growth of digital books. Indeed, the library’s ability to provide new digital reader services is a key to the future institution. As you can see in the image below, publishers and content providers are moving toward more digital book releases.

    Property: Albert N. Greco, Institute for Publishing Research
    Property: Albert N. Greco, Institute for Publishing Research

    Some companies have started to leverage e-books in new ways. For example, Overdrive is looking to provide new ways to distribute digital / e-book service. Harper Collins is putting a restriction on using digital resources. This will be a trend to control library use, but also illustrates how libraries will be a valued venue to promote and market new titles to the community. This momentum will undoubtedly ensure that libraries are part of the marketing mix.

    Below illustrates how the economics of ebook is different and how digital only copies will be difficult to market. The publishing industry should note that new ways to market their products are in their neighborhood public library. They should look for ways to partner with libraries to widen their appeal.

    origionally published in the WSJ
    origionally published in the WSJ
  • Library Planning Research

    Books, Books and Ebooks – Library Space Planning

    When books were developed by Dutch printers in 1471 they transformed Medieval Life by enabling the distribution of information. Now, consider when paperback books transformed life in the 1960’s and the first penguin books arrived. They were a great invention for the public and much easier to handle while traveling. They were durable and portable for kids to use. They also lowered the cost of literacy so that anyone could have a copy of a best seller or a classic if they wanted.

    We are at the edge of a transformation in learning technology and the space requirements to support it. The ebook reader has arrived with a user interface that adds tools to the experience; highlighting, wireless sharing and new requirements for library space. The experience is still at its infancy and only a portion of the population has made the conversion. However, just take a look around at the airport. Many people still use books, but others are already on the hyper-literacy highway. They are traveling at breakneck speeds with new apps designed by developers to enhance the experience.

    The ebook is a technology that can bring the book alive. Just look at the additional tools placed on the IPAD. Its ability to be a dynamic wi-if computer or read maps, make notes, play games and puzzles. In the future, there will be more integration with the spatial environment too. For example, library spaces can incorporate (QR) codes, barcodes that, when you take a photo of them with your smartphone, will take you out of the book or item to different websites. It will literally show you additional examples of research or reading on the subject.

    Reading is a text based skill and it’s not going away anytime soon. In fact, in most cases a book would work better then a web site. However, publishers need to develop new ways to get readers to buy their books. They need to sell paperback books at a low price, but the real profit will be when they don’t have to spend any natural resources to make the product. When its digital. Paperback books are an inexpensive way to sell information. However, we need to realize that the momentum is being generated by technology companies and publishers that are trying to create new and repeat customer.

    For these reasons, we have to focus on the library as a space for books both print and digital. We know the ebook will arrive in greater numbers. That is why we are confident that flexible spaces for leaning needs are available for both. From a collection point of view, we need to make sure we have a repository that supports learning for the long term. However, we can not let the past drive the future of reading and learning. The technology has been let out of the box on a large scale.

    To explain how the ebook experience will change the future library we need to continue to read this story. When we see people going from just reading a story into an exploration of a multitude tools and apps that enable sharing we know that library space needs to change. We know that it needs to reflect a new customer, armed with a portal of knowledge under their arm.

    The library’s space will be design to allow the users to explore both the individual experiences and collaborative learning. It will be a place that allows you to immerse yourself in a book, but which one will it be? How will this new form of reading to take place without book stacks? And how will this change our use of the library as place?

    Further Reading:
    Scholarly Information Practices in the Online Environment: Themes from the Literature and Implications for Library Service Development. Report commissioned by OCLC Research. Published online at: www.oclc.org/programs/publications/reports/2009-02.pdf

  • library technology,  work in progress

    Academic and School Libraries – “Lessons Learned About E-Textbooks and E-Books”

    Academic learning spaces and e-book readers are a subject that our team is focused on understanding.  It affects library space planning and design.  Indeed, libraries are unique learning spaces that improve student success rates and ebook technology is changing education.

    Recently, an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education demonstrated the challenges of ebooks and the lessons that can be learned from innovative projects.  E-book readers are in a transition as they get to market and it is very easy to reject the new technology because it doesn’t work.  Developers don’t always see eye-to-eye with users so it takes time for these tools to hit critical mass. 

    6 lessons learned from e-textbooks includes a good overview of the challenges that higher educational institutions face when they start moving toward e-books and e-textbooks; learning curve, some professors innovators, battery life,  subjects are not equally friendly and impact matters.  For example, at Northwest Missouri State University, the Sony e-book reader didn’t provide the type of navigation that users were used to and it became uncomfortable for some students to leave their text book behind.  They expected it to be the same as a normal book and it’s not the same.  It is new technology and it requires training.  Here, Academic Libraries have an opportunity to become relevant by providing training and support.

    We know it will take time for students and professors to learn how to use ebook technology illustrating why impact matters.  We also know that the publishing community needs to extend their products to support e-books and e-textbooks.  This will take time, for example, science materials get good coverage via the ejournals, but econtent for humanities is taking time to get to market.     

    At the Lyndon Institute, ACA developed a unique program to support critical needs by recommended kindle as a solution.  The library had a flood and lost its entire collection.  The school needed a solution and fast.  

    p>Today, the project has its successes and challenges.  It doesn’t mean that the Kindles are perfect, but the solution does provide students with more access to books and journals then ever before. We need to recognize that the library and ebooks are in transition.  Today its a blended environment that we use for study.   

    University librarians are an important test group for e-books.  Student want more seating in the library and e-book readers are a way to increase access to e-journals.  Professors are starting to use blackboard and blogs to post reference information.  The University library is supporting their work by teaching information literacy and providing support to students.  It is logical to see a group librarians take charge.  One group we have been associated with is LITA.  They have a great blog with lots of information.