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Perusing library science literature on ebooks

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Here are a few abstracts of recent library science articles about ebooks published in various journals. Enjoy.

  1. “An overview of the e-book marketplace,” by Magdalini Vasileiou, Richard Hartley, and Jennifer Rowley, Online Information Review, 2009, Vol. 33, Issue: 1, pages 173-192.
    URL: Fee required to read entire article.

    Provides an overview of the e-book marketplace players and their services against a context in which e-books are becoming an increasingly significant category of digital resource.  The authors start with a brief overview of the literature on the global e-book market and e-book business models offered by vendors to libraries. Analysis of the web sites of nine e-book publishers and 11 e-book aggregators was used as a basis for profiling the main features of e-books (user-oriented features and librarian-oriented features) and the services offered by e-book publishers and e-book aggregators.  The e-book market is under constant change and it is important to monitor its development, not just at national but also at international level.  Currently, the majority of e-book vendors market to libraries–typically academic libraries, and publishers are increasingly using e-aggregators to distribute their titles.  Collections of e-books are expanding gradually and there is evidence of increasing uptake.  Current e-book business models are complex and range considerably.  This development of the availability of e-books could have significant implications for the future role of libraries and for library strategies, policies and processes.  The authors draw attention to the potential of the future importance of e-books and profiles the uptake of the e-book marketplace in terms of main players and their services.

  2. “Scholarly e-books: the views of 16,000 academics: Results from the JISC National E-Book Observatory,” by Hamid R. Jamali, David Nicholas, and Ian Rowlands, Aslib Proceedings, 2009, v61 #1, pages 33-47.
    URL:  Fee required to read entire article.

    This study, a part of JISC-funded UK National E-Books Observatory, looks at the perspective of students and academics, the main e-book users, on e-books.  The paper provides an analysis of two open-ended questions about e-books, contained in a UK national survey conducted between 18 Jan and 1 Mar 2008. The survey obtained a response from more than 20,000 academic staff and students; 16,000 free-text responses were obtained to these two questions.  The study discloses that convenience associated with online access along with searchability was the biggest advantage of e-books.  The study shows a potential market for e-textbooks; however, e-books have yet to become more student-friendly by improving features such as printing and screen reading.  This is the biggest survey of its kind ever conducted and it improves one’s knowledge of what the academic community thinks of e-books.

  3. “E-books or print books, “big deals” or local selections—What gets more use?” by Robert Slatera, Library Collections, Acquisitions, and Technical Services, 2009, v33 #1, pages 31-41.
    URL:  Free to read entire article.

    LCATS_coverThis article tracks the use of several hundred books at Oakland University that were made available both in print and electronically.  The author attempts to determine if there are discernible differences in usage based on format.  This paper also examines usage to determine if collections of books that were locally selected exhibit different usage than those purchased through a consortium.  The author concludes that locally selected collections receive greater usage than consortially selected collections.  Furthermore, the author finds that usage of a particular title in one format does not correlate to usage of that title in the other, but that there is a relationship between the formats when you compare aggregate circulations/accesses of books based within NetLibrary subject areas.  In 2005, the university began investigating the e-book aggregator Safari Technical E-books.  Safari specializes in what, to date, have been the most heavily used areas for e-books according to the literature– computer science (and related fields) and business/economics.  For some time, Oakland University librarians had been struggling with an unusually high rate of lost and stolen books in the area of computer science.  “How to” and “teach yourself” computer science books published by Sam’s and O’Reilly were particularly problematic.  Various attempts to limit access and prevent theft did little to lower the rate of loss, while simultaneously making the books harder to access for legitimate users.  Safari’s e-books seemed to be the perfect solution to this problem; they would provide access while guaranteeing that the items would not be lost or stolen.  The computer science librarian anticipated that use of computer science and related books would be high, but wanted to determine if use would be equal to or higher than that of print counterparts.  If it turned out this was the case, then he could justify developing a collection policy that always favored e-books over print books for books in the area of computer science and related subject areas, when available.  The librarians also wanted to determine if theft and loss of print computer science books from the open stacks continued to be a problem. Furthermore, the librarians wanted to compare how usage of locally selected e-book collections compared with that of consortially selected collections.

  4. “E-books in Spanish academic libraries,” by Luisa Alvite Díez and Blanca Rodríguez Bravo, The Electronic Library, 2009, v27 #1, pages 86-95.
    URL:  Fee required to read entire article.

    Explores the current presence of e-books in the collections of Spanish academic libraries, from the viewpoint of the contents on offer.  Exploration of the library web sites was undertaken in order to gauge the level of presence of packages that distribute electronic books.  In evaluating the extent of content available, the data recorded were compared with those derived from another research carried out in 2004.  Similarly, an approximate indication of the topic areas with greatest representation was attempted, distinguishing multidisciplinary suppliers from those specializing in one field.  Out of the 50 existing universities, 36 support the subscription of at least one collection of electronic books.  The universities of the communities of Andalusia, Catalonia, and Valencia are those that have reached a greater implementation of e-books.  There is a considerable diversity–many universities have subscribed to collections specializing in literature and in the field of engineering.  The main multidisciplinary collections purchased by libraries are E-libro and NetLibrary.  This is a sector that is definitely taking off in Spain and will require progressive acceptance on the part of the academic community.  Librarians have the responsibility to aid their users in understanding the growing complexity of the information market and the increasing range of resources available for research.  The research is a necessary approach to the integration of collections of e-books into Spanish public universities.  Encouraging the use of monographs in electronic format takes on great importance, when it is borne in mind that e-books will have a crucial role in the new model for education advocated by the European Higher Education Area (EHEA).

  5. “Allocating costs in the business operation of library consortium: The case study of Super e-Book Consortium,” by Steve H. Ching, Maria W. Leung, Margarret Fidow, and Ken L. Huang, Library Collections, Acquisitions, and Technical Services, 2008, v32 #2, pages 97-103.
    URL:  Fee required to read entire article.
    This case examines the Super e-Book Consortium in Taiwan and Hong Kong by employing Activity Based Costing Method (ABC), which seeks to establish an activity and process analysis pattern for costing structure, and tries to find cost drivers for consortia business operation.  The actual level of activities and the services provided by consortium have not been clearly identified.  The service charges incurred for financing the consortium business operations are not commonly found in the expenditure category of their existing operating budgets.  The key activities and relevant costs have been analyzed to provide a reference for pricing the service charges and as a benchmark for the future consortium operations in terms of cost reductions and efficiency improvements.  A future inter-jurisdiction organizational business model is recommended based on key consortium operational activities and its changing environment.
  6. “Assessing e-books: Taking a closer look at e-book statistics,” by Nancy Sprague and Ben Hunter,  Library Collections, Acquisitions, and Technical Services, 2008, v32 #3-4, pages 150-157.
    URL:  Fee required to read entire article.

    In 2008, the University of Idaho Library conducted an in-depth analysis of its three major electronic book providers.  Using spreadsheet and database applications, bibliographic data from their ILS was combined with usage statistics obtained from each platform.  This technique produced a master sheet that allowed the library to do subject analysis by LC classification, discover e-books that were not cataloged in their OPAC, and identify e-books supplied by more than one provider.  The usage statistics show relatively low use across both subject areas and platforms.  The discussion includes an analysis of subscription costs and recommendations for the reporting of e-book statistics.

  7. “E-books in practice: the librarian’s perspective,” by Rafael Ball, Learned Publishing, 2009, v22 #1, pages 18-22.
    URL:  Fee required to read entire article.

    LearnedPublishingCoverIt has become unimaginable to provide information–particularly scientific information–without e-books.  They have become part of today’s combination of media, which includes printed books and journals, e-journals, e-books, and databases.  When e-books first appeared on the market, librarians very quickly formulated their key requirements.  The most important requirement is functionality: it must be possible to look through a book chapter by chapter, and also to get a quick overview of a comprehensive monograph.  Usage arrangements, including concurrent usage and use for interlibrary loans, are also important.  The use of uniform technical standards increases the acceptance of e-books.

  8. “The shifting landscape of e-books,” by Aline Soules, New Library World, 2009, v110 #1/2, pages 7-21.
    URL:  Fee required to read entire article.

    Reviews the current state of e-books, describing their potential scope, highlighting information from recent ebrary surveys in connection with the author’s on-the-ground experience with students, and discussing the challenges of these evolving works.  The paper describes the need to broaden perceptions of e-books in light of their extensive potential and scope.  It highlights significant points in the ebrary surveys and compares them with the author’s on-the-ground experience in a medium-sized university with students who are less advantaged.  It also presents the challenges librarians face, both currently and in the future, illustrating progress in some areas and emphasizing the growing complexity in managing these works.  Even as librarians cope with what can now be considered “traditional” e-books, little attention is paid to the potential breadth and diversity of e-books.  The surveys show that librarians are only partially aware of students’ perceptions about e-books and that there are conflicting priorities among students, faculty, and librarians.  Conclusions are that: even as librarians cope with the current state of e-books, they must also plan for future types of e-books; and there is a strong need for greater communication in the increasingly complex e-book arena of selection, acquisition, collection integration, and instruction.  Much of the literature about e-books deals with the pros and cons, either of e-books or of e-book readers.  The paper lays out e-book issues to foster further in-depth discussion.


Written by Larry S. Bonura

16 June 2009 at 23:59

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