ALA Digital Supplement – Check out the document to read more on eBooks in libraries, statistics, info and more… Good read, it’s a start for understanding challenges and seeing where things are at…
Tag Archives: publishing
So over at the Digital Shift you can read the full article, I won’t bother to go through the whole thing. I think the whole idea is and will be a failure causing nothing more than larger rifts and a greater escalation of animosity between pubs and libs. Argue against if you want, but trust me, anyone who says they are both playing nice and really striving hasn’t heard of the cat and mouse approach to things.
What I want to do is look at the 4 demands the libraries are making, because some of them are just plain wonky, I’ll explain why.
1. Search and browse a single comprehensive catalog with all of a library’s offerings at once, including all e-books, physical collections, programs, blogs, and donor opportunities. Currently, content providers often only allow searches within the products they sell, depriving users of the comprehensive library experience.
- To be honest a large chunk of this is the libraries responsibilities, not the pubs. If you own content in your library, your search portal should handle the searching across your collections and content you own, not the pub. If the pub wants to provide an api to allow for access into their catalog to find more content, great, but can your lib system handle it? Have you heard of patron drive acquisition, this same thing is accomplished somewhat with that. A large dump of records, users don’t know if you own them or not, but they are discoverable. Seems to be a mix of what a library is suppose to do and what a publisher does and what a vendor of services does.
- This makes no sense in some respects this demands list is going back and forth with pubs and distributors. Some of these services are provided by ILS systems, some by distributors, but not all by one. There is a reason vendors of products focus on specific offerings and services, it’s what they do best and why get involved in everything, not a good business plan.
- This is more of a making sure the content is in either epub or mobi for kindles. Plus it brings up a whole issue of what is an eBook? Is it the pdf documents, is it website content that isn’t a database. You need to define these before you can say support this, we need it when you don’t really know what you need or want. PDF is horrible on small devices, so then does the vendor need to offer it in epub or mobi as well, if so, how does that figure into cost and backend systems and do they want to support a format not ideal for smaller mobile devices. Saying we want this is great, but does it make sense?
- This is really wonky and makes me think whomever wrote it didn’t bother to really think about it. If the eBook is in epub, it works on all readers, just to varying degrees depending on the device, app, etc. Kindle mobi files can be read on the ipad in the kindle app,plus kindle isn’t only the device but the platform, so a parameter needs to be set by what is meant. Therefore with the iPad alone, you would be covered for reading any formats. For the nook or fire to support different formats, well that’s the device manufacturers discretion, not something the pub forces or has a hand in. Plus all readers, seriously, know how many apps and devices that are out there, a pub nor vendor of eBooks will be able to supply a file that looks and acts exactly the same on each device, too much crap out there.
Library Report on E-Book Lending: Publishers and Libraries Don’t Understand Each Other | Digital Book World
The discussion between libraries and publishers about eBooks is one that will always be ongoing. Now we all know that the disconnect has been there for some time, not surprising, at least if you have been paying attention for the last decade or more. This isn’t a blame game, it’s no one entities fault, it’s actually everyones fault. Nobody wanted to admit it, at least not in the open. They kept pushing policies, trying things out, complaining about each other, but nobody has really said, “Hey, we don’t have a clue.” Now this isn’t one sided, this is all sides.
Having worked with libraries all over the U.S., on all levels, all types for well over a decade, I can honestly say this isn’t a surprise the disconnect exists. I’m also not siding on anyones side… not because I don’t surport anyone, but because in all honesty, it’s both sides fault. Now neither will admit that, neither will step up and say, “Yes, we know were disconnected from the reality that exists, how do we fix it?” That day happens, someone call me, I’ll buy a round for the first one to do so at a conference some time. The problem is easy, everyone finds it easier to complain or pass the blame around. Nobody wants to say they screwed up or give in, that sign of weakness thing. They’d rather take their ball home and not play with anyone.
I’ve said this for quite a few years, in order for libraries and publishers to get on the same page for eBooks and other areas, they need to remove themselves from the equation. Neither can be agnostic about the view, they don’t want to budge and they have the wrong people having the conversation. CEOs or others at pubs and head of ALA aren’t in the trenches every day, not a slam, just a point of fact. When I started selling eBooks to libraries many asked the same question, how do I use this with my kindle? Know why they asked that, that’s all they knew, kindle, amazon, it was ridiculous, who wants to read a textbook on a kindle e-ink? You know who, NOBODY, zero, zilch, nada, not a single student. That’s not me saying it, it was every librarian who asked me that question who I went back to and discussed it with afterwards.
What many people don’t think about is that a one size fits all approach to eBooks for libraries doesn’t exist, can’t exist. Simple reason being that we have such a variety of library types, that a single model shouldn’t exist. Also, were dealing with multitudes of content; fiction, research, articles, reference, study aides, the list goes on. You cannot say this will work for all, when you think this way you ultimately lose sight of the purpose of the library and the patrons using it, no matter the type of library you are.
Sure we know part of the issue is license or access to the content. We also have DRM,restricting usage. Some of the fears I can understand, I said understand, not that I support them. Pubs are worried libraries will take a digital copy and just let it go like wildfire. Rightfully so, I know many that would do that. Libraries think that they should only have to buy 1 of the digital copy, which is extremely odd to me, when multiple copies of a print edition is bought, why not with digital? Even if you pay more, but get unlimited access and say buy 50 copies of the eBook that is still cheaper then 50 print, why no do it? I think it’s because we have become a society where we want it cheap and we want it fast, easy and no strings attached, which is wrong. Sure some eBooks are cheaper to produce, some aren’t and their still is a return on investment that pubs want with digital. It comes quicker, but it’s still there, think of enhanced eBooks.
What I see happening is that some eBooks may not be available as eBooks themselves. Publishers may pull them back and create an app for an entity of titles, maybe by the same author or content that is the same. They do that, you’ll be buying apps instead.
Or the boycotts continue, which lets admit is a knee jerk reaction and one that won’t really solve anything. Not to mention, you have now taken content from your users, the same users that pay the taxes for you to buy the content. They are not being served, they have now lost access. Pubs need to pay attention to this and get things back on track, but everything is pretty much going to get ugly, just wait for ALA, it’ll be an interesting conference this year.
In the end what’s going to help, honest conversations, none of this we want and they want. It needs to be here’s a list from both of needs, wants, etc. Then be prepared to scrap about 50% of it and give in on that much, because there is no way that one is going to walk away with the larger percentage of their list intact, just can’t happen.
Publishing is a business like any other, it has its ups and downs, sometimes more so than others. However, I wholeheartedly believe that it will succeed and not only succeed but I see a change coming in the very near future. Now this isn’t merely a post to appease to publishers, far from it… they’ve done some stupid things in the past and probably will again, that’s the way things work. Yet, I can’t help but be optimistic about its future and what is coming. For a little background I’ve been in publishing in a variety of roles, majority of it sales, for almost 15 years now both in the retail area and in the education market working with every library imaginable. I’ve seen a lot, both good and bad, but who doesn’t in any industry?
The reasons I see publishing succeeding is that we have a variety of passionate people out there that are trying to make a change whether the publishers want it or not. That’s awesome, we need those people, I’d lump myself into that category… although I don’t have a lot of pull, I’m still passionate about it, because of what publishing means, can mean and why we need it, to keep stories, history, knowledge around. I like the internet as much as anyone else, but we all have to admit, the info is only as good as the source and a lot of times, it’s pretty crappy. When I said there are passionate and vocal people out there in publishing, I’m not kidding.
In fact, here’s a list, now it’s not extensive and if you feel I left someone out, tell me and I’ll add them… I didn’t compile a list simply for the fact that it could be a post within itself. The industry needs to see who is busting their ass to save it and keep it going and make sure that it changes directions when it needs to. The biggest fail that any publisher can do is to not hire passionate people who love books, the printed word, the digital word and those that think so far out of the box it scares the hell out of you. Publishers need to do this, they need to find these people, hire them, pay them well.. this is key, you get what you pay for, pay lower and those with the high talent either won’t want to work with you or will not be as great at their job as they could be. What’s the problem with that, pay someone well and show them you believe in their worth and what they do, its common sense really.
I’d love to do a list of everyone but it might be easier to say follow the people who are on twitter #DBW hastag, or #ePrdctn or #ISBNhour. Follow these conversations and many more like them and you’ll see who they are that have a passion for the publishing industry. Follow me on twitter and you’ll find many of these innovators and optimists, I follow them, you might want to as well.
Now the reasons that publishing will survive thrive are tied to these people or those like them. People that want to turn the tanker of publishing around and are trying to find ways to do it that aren’t just to make a quick buck but that build sustainability and allow for growth year over year which is necessary. Publishers need to take chances and let those that have the unique views run with ideas and concepts, you never know what might happen. Too many times, the bean counters are running pub houses; which influences editing, acquiring materials and so on, it shouldn’t be that way, you need people who say I love publishing in all of its facets and let’s shake things up. Granted that big tanker of publishing is slow-moving, but you have to start somewhere and realize that if you are afraid to try it, then you should try it… because sitting by and doing the same old thing time after time and not having any results, that’s just crazy people, not the good kind of crazy, the other kind. eBooks are one way out, we also have apps now and transmedia, an ever developing model and the list goes on. There are options, we don’t need to say only this way or that way, why not try them all or experiment with them and see what works for your company or project. Let the innovators do their thing…innovate and come up with ideas, no matter how batty they may sound, ingenuity and creativity more than ever now needs to be at the forefront and publishers, customers and everyone involved needs to have a voice. All of these items I mention are what will keep publishing going, keep it creating and make it successful.
What are your thoughts though? Digital Book World has asked this many times, where do you see publishing going? What are you afraid of? What excites you? Who excites you in publishing? Find these ideas, concepts, people, companies and talk to them, listen, watch and take away an idea. Publishing isn’t dead, it’s in a fun house of mirrors trying to find its way out, so why not crack a few mirrors and maybe help show the way. If you don’t agree, tell me what you think are the reasons it will fail if you believe so or what do you see it needs to do to thrive and keep going.
More & more discussion is being had on twitter, websites, blogs, and pretty much any place talking about eBooks and ISBNs. You know ISBNs, the numbers on the back of the book, now on the inside of an eBook in the front matter; or whatever you call the area you place it. The biggest question comes as; How many isbns does a book need? Good question, answer, who the hell knows anymore. The problem or proverbial monkey wrench in the eBook and isbn discussion comes in the form of distributors. Continue reading