Friday, June 24, 2011

New Player on the Ebook Field

Library Journal writes that Library Ideas announced at ALA Annual 2011 that it is in entering the e-book field with Freading which is inspired by their product Freegal.  It will be based on a pay-per-use service.  This is, of course, nothing new.  It has been used by journal publishers for many years now, and yes, even by e-book vendors.  The difference is that these vendors and publishers tend to be used more in the academic libraries. 

I see the same pros and cons for the pay-per-use e-book model as the pay-per-view e-journal model.

1. It is patron driven acquisitions, and the library does not have to 'guess' what the patron wants.
2. The library is able to offer a larger catalog of titles including more esoteric titles that might not normally be available to users due to cost limitations.
3. It is a seamless transaction to the user.
4. In case of the e-books (this is a moot point with e-journals) the user does not have to wait for a title to be 'checked-in.'

1. If it is a popular title, the pay-per-use cost can exceed the actual purchase price of the title.  This would not be a cost effective method for libraries to obtain material from major fiction publishers.
2. This is a leasing model - a very short term lease.  Because of that there is no option of perpetual access.  After reading through an Overdrive contract, it does not appear that they offer perpetual access either though the titles are purchased.  There are e-books vendors such as ebrary that do offer it.  Perpetual access is continued access to a purchased title even after the subscription has expired.  This is a frequent sticking point on negotiations for e-journal subscriptions.

What would be a good model is pay-per-use with the option to purchase is the pay-per-use cost exceeds the purchase price with an option for perpetual access and ILL.  That would be ideal for libraries.  For publishers...maybe?  I am sure that I am missing both pros and cons.  Do you have any additions?

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