New Jersey Ebook Summit Summary

Pictured from left to right:  Eli Neiberger, Patricia Tumulty, Mary Minow, Norma Blake, Robert Miller, Sue Polanka, Cheryl O’Connor, Joseph Sanchez, Peggy Cadigan.

Today the NJ State Library, LinbraryLinkNJ- The NJ Library Cooperative, NJ Library Association and the NJLA Reference Section sponsored an E-book Summit in Eatontown, New Jersey.  The line-up of speakers included:

  • Eli Neiburger, Ann Arbor District Library
  • Sue Polanka, Wright State University Library & No Shelf Required
  • Robert Miller, Director of Books, Internet Archive
  • Mary Minow, Attorney, Consultant, and Former Librarian
  • Joseph Sanchez, University of Colorado – Denver

Eli:  Eli gave another stellar presentation about libraries in the 21st Century.  His presentation focused on how “libraries are screwed” due to their focus on the codex, one physical format.  The main issue is the licensing.  The content people want now is no longer own-able or shareable.  The eReader as a device is a flash in the pan.  It’s not about the hardware/software and not really about the content – it’s really about the licensing. When you invest in a media format, it’s almost inevitable that you will get screwed in the end.  Libraries are about owning and sharing things and the market is preventing that.  Libraries have the brand of a book temple. We have to find a way for the brand of libraries to move into something unique and innovative.  Eli described open markets vs closed markets and how libraries would fare  in each environment. If DRM wins, libraries lose.  Eli suggests we invest in our storage infrastructure – servers – and geeks to run them.  Circulating collections are an outmoded technology, local copies doesn’t matter.  Our choices – we can create unique experiences/content for our community or we can ride our book carts out to the sunset.

Sue Polanka discussed the current realities of purchasing ebooks for libraries. Owning vs. accessing, license agreements, and the plethora of business models were mentioned and libraries were encouraged to question vendors often and suggest new business models that suit their needs. There are many limitations on lending, sharing, ILL.  One alternative is to purchase ebooks as part of a consortia to at least be able to share content within a larger group – pros and cons were offered.  OhioLINK has purchased content files direct from publishers since 2003 and locally loads on their EBC platform.  Files are owned, unlimited use, and the interface managed by OhioLINK staff.  This takes an enormous amount of staff time and money to do, but it benefits libraries b/c they own the content files and have control over them.  OverDrive’s WIN platform, the new 3M cloud library, the Internet Archive’s In-Library Lending, Freading, and Open Access ebooks were discussed.  ebook subscription programs were mentioned as a threat to libraries. As Eli said earlier, when ad sponsored books come to be, libraries are screwed.  Sue offered the first example, 24Symbols from Spain.  They only have 1000 classic titles now.  If it comes to be that more vendors offer subscription ebooks, libraries have some competition.

Robert Miller from the Internet Archive discussed digital libraries, too little/too late, or just in time?  To buy or to rent, how different are books and eBooks? Robert provided an overview of the Internet Archive – they are a non-profit and in the top 250 websites on the internet and they are a registered library in California. They got into books in 2004 and have huge collections of moving images and audio recordings and a dark archive of TV shows.  They are struggling to find sustainable business models.  Licenses tend towards monopoly. Libraries fund the creation of near monopolies by licensing – examples include OCLC, Lexis/Nexis, digital public library of America, HathiTrust.  What do we want?  many publishers, booksellers, libraries, and authors.  They want to buy all the ebooks they can, scan the older books into ebook format, lend ebooks, and use open formats. They have 2 million classic ebooks available and 10 million downloads per month since 2005.  150,000 modern ebooks scanned for the print-disabled since 2010. In-library lending program launched in 2011.  Lending in copyright materials through 150 libraries.  They put 100,000 books into the program from pre-2000. They are trying to buy the rights for 2000 forward, but are having difficulty. The program delivers ebooks from inside or outside the library, checked out to one user at a time. Access via openlibrary or load the catalog records into local catalog.  Joining is easy – contribute at least 1 book to the co-op and submit IP addresses.  Robert nearly had us chanting, “If you own a copy, you can loan a copy.” Robert described an in-library lending model in China where a user has a book, but lends a chapter to another user.  Only one user can access that loaned chapter at a time though.  NSR interviewed Brewster Kahle from the Internet Archive in February about the In-Library Lending program.

Mary Minow – E-book buying vs. licensing, a multi-layered legal perspective.  Mary discussed layers of control and rising issues for accessibility and privacy, and what are our ebook futures.  Layers of control – Physical, copyright, licenses/agreements, and encryption/DRM, and the DMCA.  The physical layer of control was chains on books, 2nd layer was the publishers wanting control and thus copyright was born, licenses cover the vendors, DRM protects digital copies and the DMCA makes it illegal to “pick locks on digital content”.  DRM is a digital restrictions management that has nothing to do with copyright.

  • The purpose of copyright law is to expand knowledge.
  • Copyright on published works – life of author plus 70 years.
  • Section 108g of the copyright law allows libraries to do ILL.
  • Libraries are still subject to the copyright restrictions on ebooks.  They can’t make copies, etc.
  • What is first sale?  Important for our existence.  Allows us to loan books and sell used books.  This is in the US, but don’t take it for granted b/c it’s not the same in other countries.  Some libraries in other countries have to pay royalties on the times a book is checked out.
  • Fair use argument to allow library loans – 4 factors in the law.  purpose, nature, amount, and market effect.
  • Copyright only protects the publisher and author, not the vendor, so vendors need a license agreement.  The license agreement negates copyright, so technically we start with ILL, the license agreement takes it away.  So, don’t sign license agreements that take it away.
  • Removing DRM is easy to do, but should you/can you do it?  DMCA of 1998 made it a crime to “pick the lock” and remove the DRM.  DMCA is a law that criminalizes tampering with digital locks.  But, there are some exceptions, but they are very narrow and revised every 3 years.  July 2010 – added ebook controls on read-aloud functions when all existing editions block accessibility.  Cell phone apps interoperability.
  • Mary recommends that if we buy something as an ebook, we also buy a print copy for accessibility, or choose accessible readers. iPad is getting high marks as an accessible format. DAISY format books available on open library and Internet Archive, but users need a “key.”  They need to qualify for the program.

Joseph Sanchez – Joseph is formerly with Red Rocks Community College and now with the University of Colorado -Denver. His presentation was titled  The eRoad Less Travelled: Getting Control, Staying Relevant. There is no one answer, b/c we each have different needs.  Joseph provided a flesh and bones look at many of the things the speakers today have discussed.  Red Rocks started circulating second gen Kindles and first gen iPads as soon as they hit the market.  He chose Kindle b/c he beta tested several devices with students and found they wanted immediate results and Kindle was the answer.  They tried a unique patron driven model where they purchased titles on demand for the Kindle. Joseph showed a video he produced at RRCC, available on his blog, The Book My Friend. RRCC built a video production studio for his community, so they could be partners with the students in producing content.  Need to look at this as all digital content, not just eBooks.  Joseph went into detail on a program in Colorado where they are hosting ebooks on an Adobe Content Server and are able to lend them one user at a time.  More information on his project is on his blog and in an audio interview that I had with Joseph earlier this year.

All presentations are available on the Library Link NJ site: