Tag Archives: Mirela Roncevic

Croatia Reads was not about Croatia [but about free access to books for all mankind]

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This is Article 3 (following What readers want and What books want) in the “Lessons from Croatia Reads” series of articles on NSR, which aims to describe the experience of turning the country of Croatia into a Free Reading Zone in December 2016.


So what exactly  happened with ebooks in Croatia in December of 2016? The first two articles in the “Lessons from Croatia Reads” series, which focused on why the project was immensely beneficial for readers and books (and the future of books), left some questions unanswered, owing largely to my affinity for describing life’s experiences (not just this one) not in a linear fashion but instead in the way in which they get stored in my memory. This often has little to do with chronology and more to do with how various lessons from the experience present themselves to  me after the fact.

The Croatia Reads project, which I founded and managed, was many things to many people who are, in one way or another, affected by books either because they write them, read them, sell them, distribute them, or manage them. In retrospect, and perhaps more than anything, Croatia Reads was an attempt to present the library of the future in all its invisible glory. And this library is able to (finally) fully democratize the written word by virtue of becoming completely invisible, thus accessible to all people, all at once. This, as I’ve written in various other posts, is the vision I have both for the industry I love and have devoted two decades of my life to and for the world, which I’ve had the privilege of experiencing through life on three continents.

The idea came to me about a year ago in the midst of a meeting I was having with my (at the time) colleagues at Total Boox, the company behind the pay-as-you-read ebook model for libraries and direct consumers. Continue reading Croatia Reads was not about Croatia [but about free access to books for all mankind]

What readers want (and what we are not giving them)

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[Article 1 in the “Lessons from Croatia Reads” series]

This is Article 1 in the “Lessons from Croatia Reads” series, which aims to describe the experience of turning the country of Croatia into a Free Reading Zone in December 2016. The series is not meant to be a standard academic case study of all that various numbers and figures prove and don’t prove about the future of books and reading. It is an attempt to draw from the experience in a way that highlights all that is missing but within our reach. Croatia Reads was/is meant to give us a glimpse of a future that holds so much promise for the written word. In this future things look radically different than they do today, but the possibilities (and opportunities) for all who work with books are endless.

* * *

For the past many months, I’ve had the privilege of stepping outside the confines of the publishing and library industries (as well as the borders of the United States) to engage in non-profit projects and initiatives that bring books and knowledge to people. There comes a point in every person’s career when we crave to turn our professional jobs into missions, and it simply isn’t enough to earn a paycheck, even amidst the most challenging circumstances. We take a leap of faith and jump.

And jump I did, from New York all the way to Croatia, where I would (not immediately upon arrival but soon thereafter) embark on the project of my life and turn an entire country into an open virtual library (available to all its people without a card and access code and regardless of status, geography, background, citizenship, etc). In early December 2016, Croatia (the country of my birth) became the world’s first Free Reading Zone for one entire month. Continue reading What readers want (and what we are not giving them)

ALA Panel Alert: Leading with Ebooks — New Strategies for Librarians and Publishers

Join a panel of librarians, publishers, and thought leaders in a dynamic exchange of ideas for advancing ebook services in libraries.

LEADING WITH EBOOKS: NEW STRATEGIES FOR LIBRARIANS AND PUBLISHERS
Sunday, June 29th, Las Vegas Convention Center, Room N252, 3:30 p.m.

Sponsored by Total BooX, an ebook service based on the premise that public libraries need not settle for less than instant, simultaneous access to ebooks or pay for the content not read by their patrons, this panel seeks to challenge existing patterns in ebook management and engage industry leaders to identify the trends moving publishing and librarianship into new territories.

Topics explored include: thinking like digital natives (even if we are not); tracking reading (after the checkout); rethinking marketing (as everyone’s task); valuing content (while embracing technology); and acting now (and walking the talk).

The panel is moderated by Mirela Roncevic, co-editor of ALA’s journal eContent Quarterly and contributing writer to No Shelf Required.

Continue reading ALA Panel Alert: Leading with Ebooks — New Strategies for Librarians and Publishers

E-Content in Libraries: 2013 in Review (Trends, Reflections, Highlights)

2013 in Review

Re-reading the introduction to the NSR “year in review” article from last year makes it tempting to cut and paste parts of the post from 12 months ago into this one. Looking back at how e-content in libraries—in all its incarnations—continued to evolve throughout 2013, it becomes obvious that 2013 carried on the legacy of the years past. Those who created, reviewed, sold, and managed e-content for libraries witnessed a kind of solidification (rather than reinvention) of a number of initiatives and products that were introduced in 2011 and 2012. In many ways, 2013 was less about changing the game and more about playing it well. And since many of last year’s observations still hold true, some cutting-and-pasting is in order:

  • new alliances were formed among both publishers and vendors”
  • more mergers took place”
  • open access initiatives showed no signs of slowing down”
  • “those of us keeping up with e-content were reminded that emerging technological advances continued to push the boundaries of what we thought was possible only a year before”
  • “our industry was challenged to rethink its own expectations about digital library environments but also dare to aim higher

 

2013 Trends

Based on the initiatives brought to us by the companies whose products are listed below (see 2013 Highlights), we may draw some conclusions about the e-content trends likely to dominate 2014:

Self-publishing continues to soar — According to a recent analysis of US ISBN data by Bowker, the number of self-published titles in 2012 jumped to more than 391,000, up 59 percent over 2011 and 422 percent over 2007. Ebooks comprised 40 percent of the ISBNs that were self-published in 2012, up from just 11 percent in 2007. Smashwords conducted a study in 2013 to analyze self-published book sales data and also released its key findings in an effort to help authors and publishers sell more ebooks.

Kids’ reading of ebooks is growing — Scholastic’s study on kids’ reading in the digial age (Kids & Family Reading Report) found that kids’ reading of ebooks has nearly doubled since 2010. According to the findings, the percentage of children who have read an ebook has almost doubled since 2010 (25% vs. 46%); 75 percent of kids who have read an ebook are reading ebooks at home; 72 percent of parents are interested in having their child read ebooks; and half of children age nine-17 said they would read more books for fun if they had greater access to ebooks (a 50 percent increase since 2010). 

All of this is great news for K-12 publishers rushing (justifiably) to “animate” their front- and backlist and breathe new life into existing content via interactive platforms and e-learning resources. Leaders on the K-12 publishing side include Scholastic, of course, as well as Rosen Publishing.

Lines are blurring as vendor roles are expanding — As everyone in the market of producing and selling e-content to libraries expands their existing lines of services, librarians are left with the daunting task of keeping up with who does what. Long gone are the days when publishers simply published books and distributors brought them to libraries. The picture in 2013 is complex and it looks something like this:

  • major library aggregators are becoming publishers (think EBSCO acquiring publishers like Wilson and Salem Press)
  • major academic publishers are becoming sources of free and Open Access books (think DeGruyter)
  • traditional book distributors are morphing into ebook lending services (think Baker & Taylor)
  • ebook lending services are embracing new leasing models by taking clues from established aggregators (think 3M’s interest in patron-driven purchasing)
  • self-publishing services are providing content to libraries (think Smashwords’ LibraryDirect service )
  • non-profit online repositories are becoming publishers (think Project Gutenberg Self-Publishing Press)
  • e-retailers are becoming publishers (think Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing) as well as online reading communities (think Amazon acquiring GoodReads)
  • K-12 publishers are becoming “media” companies (think Rosen’s new suite of interactive learning resources)

Public libraries are showing more interest in publishing as well as owning content — If various organizations with no background in publishing are becoming publishers, shouldn’t libraries—a fertile ground for cultivating authors, many would argue—reconsider their roles in the 21st century? In ALA’s June 2013 E-Content Digital Supplement, Jamie La Rue proposed that libraries consider their potential as future publishers of locally-grown content. “There are several reasons why public libraries might want to move in this direction,” wrote La Rue, “Once a library invests in the infrastructure to manage ebooks directly from publishers, it finds that the same infrastructure allows it to be a publisher.” 

Back in September La Rue’s Douglas County Libraries (DCL) announced the debut of The Wire: A Writer’s Resource, a blog that provides information for aspiring authors to write, publish, and find markets for their books. And just a couple of weeks ago, news broke that DCL and Colorado Library Consortium were awarded an LSTA grant of over $200,000 for their “eVoke 2.0: Colorado Statewide eBook Pilot Project: proposal. The goal of the project is to develop an alpha stage end-to-end cloud e-content infrastructure that will provide e-content purchasing and lending capabilities to Colorado libraries. This again reaffirms DCL’s resolve to own the content purchased.

Integration of multi-media components is the next frontier —  This is a no-brainer. Many studies, surveys, and articles have pointed to the fact that digital reading is, at its best, interactive reading. This explains why a number of vendors is developing digitally-born interactive content inviting students and researchers to engage in a new kind of learning: watching and listening while reading. There is also a growing interest in all things digital audiobooks. Baker & Taylor has made great strides on this front, enabling library patrons to borrow and download digital audiobooks directly to their Apple and Android mobile devices.

Big “multi-media” stories of 2013 included Credo releasing its very first all-video collection and, of course, OverDrive—still the biggest force to be reckoned with in the land of ebook lending services—announced back in January that its platform would be enhanced with streaming video and audio technology; the service went live last month.

Content still wants to be free (to the user) — Well, clearly it does. Because we keep getting more free access to it all the time, from both expected sources like Open Access initiatives UnGlue.It and Knowledge Unlatched and the newly launched Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and the less likely sources like for-profit academic publishers.

The biggest confirmation of the value of free access in the 21st century came just last month when the long-running Google Books lawsuit (which accused Google of copying millions of books without permission) was dismissed. “In my view,” said U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin, ,”Google Books provides significant public benefits…Indeed, all society benefits.”

Partnerships continue to thrive – An industry leader once said at a conference, “competitors are just companies you haven’t figured out how to partner with yet.” Judging from the staggering number of partnerships that were announced in 2013, it seems that the key players in the e-content ecosystem are quickly realizing the value of partnering with those that can enhance their offerings as well as those who are directly competing with their products. Gale (part of Cengage Learning), for example, has made 2013 the year of partnerships with institutions as revered as The National Geographic, the Smithsonian, and the Associated Press.

University presses continued to join forces in an effort to bring even more monographic content to digital library collections, with four main initiatives still going strong (including those by Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, JStor, and ProjectMUSE).

Then there are deals more complex than partnerships, and we’ve come to identify them as mergers or acquisitions. The year kicked off with a major announcement from ProQuest that it was acquiring the long-time competitor to ebrary: EBL. “A major reason ProQuest wished to acquire EBL was to extend their innovative business models, including the patent-protected Non-Linear Lending (NLL) model and chapter-level purchasing, said Kevin Sayar, Senior Vice President, ProQuest Workflow Solutions, at the time the announcement was first made.

Trade publishers are coming around – The Big Six (or Five) are starting to ease the restrictions imposed on libraries lending ebooks to patrons. Looking back into the not-so-distant past, it’s clear that the trade side has come a long way. As of late 2013, every major trade publisher has some deal in place helping libraries bring ebook versions of popular titles to patrons. Simon & Schuster, the last remaining holdout among the Big Six (or Five), is now undergoing a pilot program with several libraries in New York; Random House recently announced a big partnership with both Follett and MyiLibrary; Harlequin titles are now available via MyiLibrary; Macmillan added 11,000 ebooks to Baker & Taylor’s Axis 360 platform in late 2013; and back in April, Penguin removed the six-month embrago on ebook titles licensed to libraries, now offering new titles simultaneously in both print and electronic formats.

Academic publishers are recognizing the value of e-learning tools – Just like K-12 publishers are recognizing the value of engaging young learners with interactive content, academic publishers continue to recognize the value in integrating e-learning tools into their resources to enhance the research experience for all involved. This no longer implies merely embedding citation tools and personalization features. It means working with academic institutions to connect directly to the curriculum; providing  professors with the tools to create their own textbooks; embedding teaching tools that allow educators to monitor student progress; supplementing video lectures with various academic titles; and more. SAGE’s recent partnership with Coursera, a massive open online course (MOOC) provider, is a leading example of an established academic publisher stepping outside its comfort zone to make their resources available to millions of students using MOOCs.

Continue reading E-Content in Libraries: 2013 in Review (Trends, Reflections, Highlights)

ALA’s eCourse on eBooks: Lessons Learned

ALA’s new eCourse on ebooks starts September 2nd. Well, it’s not exactly new. I taught this four-week course last March and have accepted ALA’s invitation to teach it again this September. On the other hand, it’s not exactly the same class either, since much has changed since I developed the original syllabus in early 2013 — so much, in fact, that the new list of required readings is quite different from the original. While this class still requires no prior knowledge of ebooks and we will again be going over the basics (e.g., formats, reading devices, dominant brands, DRM, purchasing options, etc.), we will also take a closer look at the trends that are currently driving our conversations at conferences and in various online communities. Continue reading ALA’s eCourse on eBooks: Lessons Learned

ALA’s Ebook Platforms for Libraries – What it’s about and what it’s for

Last Friday, ALA released it’s latest Library Technology Report (LTR)  entitled, “Ebook Platforms for Libraries.”  Mirela Roncevic, a No Shelf Required contributor, wrote and compiled the LTR.  Mirela posted on her personal blog about the report including background information about what the report contains, what it’s for, and how it can be used by librarians.  It is a really nice summary of how and why the publication was created.  Here is an excerpt from her post:

At this point, it’s anyone’s guess what the vast and growing ebooks landscape in libraries will look like a year or two from now, but as it stands right now, librarians need to keep up or they will remain behind. That’s what this report aims to do: provide a starting point from which they can embark on their institutions’ ebook ventures. Continue reading ALA’s Ebook Platforms for Libraries – What it’s about and what it’s for

SAGE announces a major partnership with Coursera

SAGE has just announced a partnership with Coursera, a leading massive open online course (MOOC) provider, to make its educational resources available to more than three million Coursera students. Starting today, this partnership grants Coursera instructors the option to supplement their video lectures with SAGE’s wide-range of titles at no cost to students. The partnership is enabled by Chegg, a learning platform selected by Coursera as its exclusive DRM/eReader provider.

The list of Coursera partners is growing and includes a number of university presses (among them University of California, Stanford, and Rutgers). SAGE is one of several new publishers to enter into an agreement with the learning platform (others are expected to be announced today). NSR reached out to SAGE to get more information on what this partnership means for the publisher and the wider education community, including libraries (full press release is available below the Q&A).

Continue reading SAGE announces a major partnership with Coursera

New ALA report on ebook platforms for libraries is out

Months in the making, ALA’ Library Technology Report (Volume 49, Issue 3) on ebook platforms for libraries is finally out.

Note from author Mirela Roncevic: “Librarians, I hope you find the comparative tables useful and the vast landscape of ebooks a bit less daunting after having read this report. Library vendors, I hope you benefit from the insight into how your products compare to others and how you can continue to improve their functionalities and business models.

Thank you to all the publishers, aggregators, and distributors who participated in the survey and supplied requested information. A heartfelt thank you to the team at ALA TechSource for supporting the project. Looking forward to future collaborations.” Continue reading New ALA report on ebook platforms for libraries is out

Credo announces Literati School and Literati Student Athlete

BREAKING NEWS FROM CREDO OFFICES IN BOSTON AND OXFORD, U.K. Credo’s information literacy platform, Literati, implemented in 600 academic and public library institutions, is now also available for K-12 schools and student athletes. Literati School and Literati Student Athlete share the same goal as the academic and public versions of Literati: to enable librarians and educators to help learners—in this case K-12 students and the athletes among them who face unique challenges—obtain information skills necessary to succeed in their scholarly pursuits as well as in life.

Continue reading Credo announces Literati School and Literati Student Athlete

E-Content in Libraries: 2012 in Review

2012 was a busy year for e-content: new alliances were formed among both publishers and vendors, more mergers took place, controversies surrounding ebook lending in public libraries persisted, open access initiatives showed no signs of slowing down, and the pressing need to digitize scholarly publishing gave rise to several monograph e-platforms. With each passing week, those of us keeping up with e-content were reminded that emerging technological advances continued to push the boundaries of what we thought was possible only a year before.

Our industry was challenged to rethink its own expectations about digital library environments but also dare to aim higher. We asked the same questions as in the years past: Who remained ahead of the curve? Who took the most risk? Who spoke directly to the needs of users? And who brought us products that would stand the test of time years from now?

During the slow month of December, “best lists” are released all over Library land. They give us a chance to take a break from “keeping up” and simply reflect. So let’s pause from chasing press releases and reflect on some of the most impactful digital resources released in 2012. Continue reading E-Content in Libraries: 2012 in Review