Chapter 1: Rich Offerings: E-Publishing Growth Areas

Article excerpt

This chapter focuses on the fresh challenges to acquisitions budgets posed by the new kinds of products brought to market in the last few years and those expected soon.

E-books (defined broadly to include monographs, reference tools, and primary source materials) open the discussion of growth areas in e-publishing. Increasing availability of comprehensive digital journal back files are described next, followed by a look at the growing tendency of publishers to aggregate and integrate ever larger large amounts of material.

Despite discouraging indicators of libraries' ability to absorb new costs, vendors have continued, as they must, to acquire new properties and build new products.

E-books

Now that e-journals are firmly established, e-books are coming into their own as the inevitable new frontier in collection development in all kinds of libraries. Publishers are offering a growing number of digital scholarly and trade monographs, reference materials, and an expanding array of historical texts.

Until now e-books have gained acceptance in libraries more slowly than e-journals. Attachment to books as physical objects and as artifacts contributes to resistance to the digital form.

Librarians recognize that readers interact with books differently from magazines or journals. Collection builders need to account for the various purposes books serve as they start to broaden selection activities.

Some questions to ask include:

* In an academic library, should titles be selected with the idea that large parts will be read online (or offline) by individual users--or primarily because they will support teaching with links from course websites or online reserves?

* Should the library focus mainly on e-books as reference tools used for quick lookup of more or less factual information?

* Can print tools be canceled?

* Scholarly research in all fields (even the sciences) draws on monographic content as well as journal articles, but are e-book acquisitions more important in some fields than in others?

* In public libraries e-books will be selected for cover-to-cover reading most likely for downloading to hand-held devices and also for reference purposes. Which e-books will people really read in bed or at the beach?

* What devices will be the most popular choices for readers--laptops, PDAs, or mobile phones--and with which software packages? Which vendor offers the best content and user service options?

Librarians from all types of libraries will first have to decide what kinds of e-books they want to buy and then figure out the best way to do it.

In 2001, when the e-book was young, the California Digital Library established a task force to carry out an in-depth study of how this format might fit into academic library collections.

The report concluded that e-books were not ready for prime time since publishers had not yet delivered the following:

* Intelligent pricing models that would allow for ownership (but not at a premium price), simultaneous use by multiple patrons, and the replacement of superseded issues at reasonable cost.

* A critical mass of titles beyond the basic undergraduate level and in subject areas besides the early concentrations in business, reference, and information technology

* Features that extend the reach of the printed book beyond mere replication in electronic form: for example, addition of multimedia, full-text searching, markup, reference linking, and so on

* Content independent of proprietary hardware and software

* Adequate rights for downloading, printing, copying, and sharing

* Ability to be integrated into normal acquisitions processes (1)

Many of the desirable characteristics the CDL study identified also are important for public libraries. In addition, publics want books in e-format by the most-read authors, multiple-copy access to best sellers when they are most in demand, and downloadable audio books. …