Berkman Center Looks at Ebooks in Libraries
David O’Brien, Urs Gasser, and John G Palfrey Jr of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University recently released a briefing document, “E-Books in Libraries.” [Fixed link, SSRN doesn’t support direct downloads] Drawing from a wide variety of sources, the document does an excellent job of summarizing the status to date of library ebook lending.
For anyone who has been following the ebook discussions, there are few surprises in this report. However, even for the digital-content jaded, the document presents the surveys and reports in such a concise and readable fashion that it is worth a read. For example, we know that OverDrive is a dominating force in library ebooks, but seeing a chart developed from the Library Journal ebook survey showing 92% market domination is a bit sobering. Another chart provides a quick review of current availability of ebooks for the Big Six publishers that is now hanging up on my wall.
I would note one point of contention here for you to write in with marker. It is really great that Penguin is engaging in a pilot with NYPL, but until it is ready and willing to roll this out to all libraries then the Penguin row needs to read “not available.” The terms of the pilot that have been released indicate a 6-month delayed release that could have been detailed here.
ALA, OITP, and the Digital Content and Libraries Working Group have put out a variety of updates and reports, but it is also nice to see a respected institution like the Berkman Center at Harvard University publish an overview of our situation. While a bit long for general release through your library, this would provide an excellent briefing document for board members/trustees or as a source from which to develop a summary.