SPEC Kit 313: E-book Collections  · 15
a problem libraries have faced many times and is
helped along by the sharing of ideas and best prac-
tices at local and national meetings.
Vendor/publisher level frustrations center on cost,
platform diversity, printing and downloading, accu-
rate statistics, and standard licensing. One respondent
makes a plea for a comprehensive list of format neu-
tral titles in print.
E-books present challenges at the industry level
in the timing of publication and in issues of preserva-
tion. It is counter-intuitive that the electronic format
should lag behind the print format as it currently
does. It almost seems as though publishers favor print
purchases or that decisions on an electronic release
are being made on the basis of print sales; however,
in the current economy, libraries cannot afford to buy
the same content twice. The survey indicates that e-
book purchases would increase if the e-format was
available at the same time as the print version.
In the print world, libraries provided preservation
for books and journals. In the electronic world, librar-
ians want assurance that the electronic format will
continue to exist. The industry must come to grips
with electronic as a viable independent format and
bring out electronic publications simultaneously with,
if not sooner than, print. Libraries would prefer to
see their vendors handle both print and electronic
without having multiple contracts.
Going Forward
E-books have far from reached their potential, ham-
pered by internal and external factors such as inad-
equate workflow processes, various rights restrictions,
delays in publication, and high cost. Even so, the li-
braries surveyed overwhelmingly agree that they will
be spending more on e-books in the near future. How
quickly e-book expenditures grow will be tied closely
to whether those issues are resolved. Several of the
early collection purchases were for titles previously
published in print. The current economic crisis has
made libraries far less interested in duplicating content
and, in fact, eager to get new, timely content online.
Libraries with the greatest enthusiasm for e-books
are the ones with the most to say, including voicing
their frustration. Well-developed policies can lead
the way to a new internal working model combining
selection with acquisition methods. Public service
librarians also have an interest in vendor selection as
Table 1: Top Benefits and Challenges of E-books
Benefits Challenges
Anytime, anywhere access
Multiple simultaneous users
Support for distance education
Patron-driven acquisitions
Instantaneous access upon purchase
Better searching of text
Space savings
Eliminates theft
Reduces weeding for physical space
Platform diversity
Lack of cross-platform searching
Cost: electronic more expensive
Cost for long-term access
Lack of standardized licensing
Getting internal consensus on e-books
Bibliographic control (good catalog records)
Getting records into catalog in a timely fashion
Ability to use in Course Management or E-Reserves
Ability to ILL
User education
Advertising titles
Lending outside campus
Adapting workflow (“Keeping track of it all!”)
Need for a high-quality non-proprietary reader
Electronic format availability lags behind print
Model licensing & standardized content management
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