ebooks: Libraries at the Tipping Point

We have 18 folks upstairs at the NEKLS office to listen and participate in the LibraryJournal ebooks: Libraries at the Tipping Point webinar.  NOTE: Skip down to “New Librarianship” – good stuff from R. David Lankes.

ebooks: Libraries at the Tipping Point will bring together public libraries, academic libraries, and school libraries (K-12) in a day-long virtual conference environment. The day will be presented online and will include keynote presentations and panel discussions on the evolving concept of the book in a digital world and will keep participants future-focused and actively engaged in visioning and assuring an exciting role for libraries.  

Background Information courtesy of Jason Griffey – ebooks, filetype and DRM

Ebook Glossary – eBook Summit Preview

We are starting with an overview of the Public, School and Academic Library ebook Survey PDF Slide Show.

Public libraries anticipate a 36% increase in ebook circulation!  Top 3 Barriers – unaware of availability, not available on preferred device and lack of training.  Only 7% of public libraries circulate preloaded ereading devices, but 24% are considering this.  Library markets for Public, Academic and School are rather different – each has a different preferred format and preferred reader.

Ray Kurzweil Keynote: Early in the Twenty-First Century, Knowledge and Content will Underlie Everything of Value (too cool – he’s presenting to a camera, so we can see his face.)  Slides

  • Exponential (not Linear) Growth of information technology makes it hard for us to make predictions
  • Technology is getting smaller – Law of Accelerating Returns says if something becomes an information technology it will grow exponentially.
  • We double our consumption of information technology every year.  New applications explode as new technologies are made available.
  • Internet traffic is doubling every year – shrinking technologies – even eReaders (eventually will be in our eyeglasses)
  • Beginning to simulate how the brain processes information – modeling the cerebellum!  Grows education, moving the ‘skill ladder’ up.  Eventually we will merge with this technology to make ourselves healthier and smarter.  Life expectancy – 1800’s 37, 2002 78.
  • Ebooks – illumination, wireless communication, processing power, display – now the quality and technology are ‘there’.  Books as an interplay of words and pictures, but now include video and interactive experiences.  Content enrichment.  Synchronize audio and visual tracks (read aloud).
  • Blio (Kruzwell’s new ereader technology released yesterday)  Pretty cool – maintains graphics, interacts with google and wikipedia, allows notetaking, reflow text, view single or double pages, etc.  Also reads aloud – synchronized audio/visual experience (both computer or human voice track)

The Tipping Point: How eBooks Impact Libraries, Publishers & Readers – panel – (Handout PDF)

  • Barbara Fister – Crowdsourcing and open access to e-content arguably improves physical sales
  • Controlling our OWN content is easier with e-content
  • The discussion is more about what you can’t do with ebooks than what you can do with them.
  • Eli Neiburger – Consider bleak scenarios and find ways out of it.  His opinion, “Libraries are screwed.”
  • The library is linked to an outmoded model – the codex.  Shift from codex to ebook, but move away from content that is loanable and shareable!
  • Outmoded media – recall laser discs
  • Brand of library – “the book temple” (market study)
  • Library needs to disassociate from the codex.  Cave walls, cuneiform, scrolls,
  • How have other outmoded technologies fared?  ex: Vinyl (outmoded because of convenience, but survived and is now ‘way cool’)  8-tracks – mobile.
  • Candles as a technology – outmoded, but still a big part of ‘our humanity’ – occupy a very different place in our society…but still a shadow of its former self.
  • New technologies are built on the infrastructure of former technologies – how many conduits are running in old gas lamp supply lines?
  • Typewriter as outmoded
  • Movable type – moved labor costs away from making copies to creating the original.
  • What will ebooks be? Which model will they follow?  8-tracks? Gas lights? movable type?
  • The Real Problem: Value of library collections are rooted int he worth of a local copy.  Now you can get a copy immediately from anywhere in the world.  Transmission and duplication (digital objects) are the SAME.  If you can view it, you can save it.  If you know where it is stored, you can find it again.
  • We have persistent internet access – local copy ‘only makes sense to a hoarder’
  • New materials may not be available in Print – only available in Kindle.  Example, videogames can’t be circulated.
  • Digital natives will NOT be excited about waiting for digital content.  Immediacy – econtent
  • Libraries need to recognize that the circulating collection is an outmoded technology, replaced by digital content.  Peak of physical item circulation has already occurred.
  • Libraries were initially were to store and organize the content of the community – local history, unique items and libraries enable creation of the community (event venues, home for creative works (library as publisher))
  • Everyone is a publisher – 21st century library bring its community to the world
  • Fair Use – negotiate access licenses with unlimited access.  Will DRM be so restrictive that it will push a resurgent of print? (doubtful)
  • Libraries need to invest a future – host for unique content, platform for unique experiences (or ride the long tail into the future)
  • Steve Potash – OverDrive – Bit of a sales pitch.  New mobile app – see book, read book.  That would make this GREAT.
  • DRM-free ePub and DRM-free MP3 audiobooks
  • library bin – buy it now – patrons to buy now.  Proceeds go to library collection budget.
  • Front line Tech Support – library staff becoming ‘geek squad’ for new devices.  Overdrive will provide front line tech support to help shoulder initial burden of educating staff and patrons (compatibility and use models)
  • Developing partnerships for library lending – specs for 2 categories of readers for in-library use and lending to patrons – helping provide specs to the device development companies.
  • Library eBook Accessibility Program (LEAP) – text to speech, specialized services and support (free for libraries and qualifying patrons)
  • Mulitmedia, Manga and Comics – Marvel, Tokyopop, Disney Digital Books – mobile and desktop apps will be mulimedia with open ePub standards!
  • New, Popular Music – Getting mp3 (new library licensing model) and library can purchase tracks for patrons Libtunes in pilot mode
  • digitalbookmobile.com or www.digipalooza.com or overdriveblogs.com/library
  • eBook Devices Cheat Sheet – courtesy of OverDrive blog (twittered/facebooked)
  • Bestsellers in non-English – coming soon
  • Q&A – Digital divide – small libraries can’t afford digital content, how do we overcome?  Look at the future through the price points of today – “there’s not a television divide” – are these costs going to be a a point where libraries with small libraries can get into them?  Probably.  Small libraries have an opportunity to access local content (local history blog, for example).  Devices may be free at some point.
  • How far out is the ePub format? – generated by a non-profit – ePub will follow in the steps of XML – durable platform that will/should endure.  DRM-free being evangelized by OverDrive
  • Academics and ILL/resource sharing – How can the current model work with eBooks?  Insist that scholarly publications be share-friendly.


Breakout 1 – Ebook “What Ifs” – Issues that impact scenario planning (Handout PDF) with Matt Hamilton, Sarah Houghton-Jan and Bobbi Newman

  • Scenarios are useful for planning, example What if NYC was hit by a category 3 hurricane?
  • Access :: Ereaders :: Rights
  • What if there’s a Google Book Search terminal in every library? Libraries eligible for a public access service terminal – grant unrestricted access to ‘orphaned books’ available through Google Books.
    • Nothing will change, says Sarah.  Useful for Academics and research, Public and Special not so useful because the books are not what users need, and School libraries were not included or counted.  1 terminal per library. Not very useful for multi-branch library (old CD-Rom station example…step backwards).  Won’t be used.  Some libraries may not participate on ‘principle alone’ because of privacy concerns and potential for censorship.  Bobbi – single use computers frustrate patrons and are not feasible in some small libraries, short on space.  Matt – Not desired – popular materials are in demand, not the books on Google Books.
  • What if the price of ereaders drops to zero?  Prices are dropping, Kindle as Razor model – device ‘thrown in for free’ with purchase of content, can libraries offer content on those devices, upcoming holiday season and demand.
    • Incredibly likely that we will see this, says Matt.  Spun as a ‘death knoll’ for libraries, but Library’s democratizing roll will not change.  May not see change in the short-term that could lead to complacency, but in time will the next generation learning to read on a device have a different view of paper books?  Stop thinking of libraries as localized entities.  As digital content is created in new ways and in new forms, libraries can be involved in the discussion and development of standards, accessibility, open access, and intellectual freedom.  “Public Access Mandate” – Libraries can grow into tax-funded, non-proprietary infrastructure to share, store and borrow digital media.  Public good component – stakeholders include accessibility advocates, educators and privacy watchdogs.  “Barrier entry” – there are still barriers to entry that can be addressed by public libraries.
      Sarah says – demand for content would skyrocket if the device was free.  Library would NOT be prepared to meet that demand.  Questions of formats and device platforms and Library staff as tech support would be overwhelming and “ill equipped to handle so quickly”.
      How do you get staff up to speed on the technology?  Matt – differences in formats and devices make training difficult (knowledge doesn’t transfer).  Sarah – training difficulties are pronounced.  Can you train staff on all potential devices with enough hands-on experience to get them ready to help patrons? NO. Will most likely lead to bad service.  Bandwidth ceilings are being hit daily, too.  New service would cripple infrastructure.
  • What if DRM issue went away tomorrow?  Digital Rights Management has caused much frustration.  Content and readers are often incompatible, if the content is loanable at all.  What other bottlenecks would there be for delivery of content?  Suppose the Library of Congress exempted certain books from copyright?
    • Bobbi says, that if the barriers were removed and use skyrocketed, demand would go up, bandwidth use would go up and collection size of econtent would need to go up.  Example, with OverDrive apps on smart phones, some of the barriers have been removed.   Library computer use policies would need to be changed – allow patrons to download content to the computer!  “It would be wonderful if the DRM issue would go away” – publishers need to realize that they need to loosen up, just like the music industry did.
      Patron expectations – how would you educate patrons?  The issue of being the bearer of bad news (that Kindle doesn’t work with OverDrive) would also go away.
      Sarah – Unprecedented increase in demand.  Many have had a first time very bad experience with ebooks – many patrons don’t come back!  May be able to get them back if the books were easier to access and load.  (Sarah and I have had the same experience – complete frustration with library ebooks and wonderful experience with Kindle app on smart phone.)
      Bobbi – Problems with no being able to allow downloads of DRM books on library computers from the download station (need more info on this).
      Matt – user issues and a library’s ability to offer services would go away.
  • Overly Negative – why?  These concepts are new and we are scared.  Libraries are working hard to encourage our vendors and ALA to get into the fight on our behalf.  We need to be advocates.  Has there been a concerted effort to ‘bend the ear’ of the industry?  Sarah, “I don’t think there has been a lot of coordination to date.”  Look at the public’s experience – so far to date, it’s been negative.
  • Is it feasible for libraries to even offer this at this time?  Do we need to go back to basics?  Is it not the time for a major eBook push?  Bobbi – can’t put the cow back in the barn.  They fill an important niche and we need to push for improvement.  A poor initial experience can lead to patrons giving up and NOT coming back.  Remote user experience needs to be seamless and free of barriers – they are the biggest user of econtent services in the public library.
  • If vendors can’t/don’t make money from subscriptions, will there be ads in eBooks?  Is that acceptable?  Would you buy those for your library collection?  Bobbi – First I want to see the data that says the publishers are not making money from subscription.  Matt – I hope we don’t see ads in ebooks.  Sarah – might not even be an option.
  • Lending eReaders – is that an option?  Which device? Fill them up with content?  Bobbi – not yet, but as prices go down this will be more feasible.

Breakout 2 – Ebooks and the Library User Experience (Slides)

  • Josh Greenberg – Books are a physical item that can be inventoried and dealt with in a physical way.  With ebooks, there is physical item – no need for holds, no need to wait for access, no need to physically move the book from one place to another, no need to manage a physical object, no need for due books, no need for fines to enforce due dates – sounds great if there is ubiquitous, frictionless access.
    • Speed bumps – user experience is also about managing user behavior and experience.  Isn’t unlimited access ideal?  “Which crumbles first: publishing industry or library budgets?”  What speed bumps will we build in the digital environment?
    • Rationing – treat eBooks like pBooks (physical books).  New method – metering.  Libraries become a subsidy for book rental.  How much should it cost to rent a book for 3 weeks and how would libraries subsidies?  Media foodstamps.  How do you allocate resources?  First come, first serve democratic model or focus on needy/underserved population?  Academics – which disciplines are worthy of getting resources?
    • Questions, no answers…1. What are your values and goals?  2. What kind of landscape do libraries want to create to fulfill those goals?  3. How does that manifest in user experience?
    • What speed bumps will you put in place to balance the needs and demand of this new service?
  • Jean Costello “The Radical Patron” www.radicalpatron.com blog
    • Do eBooks really signal a tipping point?  Yes.  Academics are eliminating print reference, magazine publishing has gone digital, and bookstores are turning into boutiques with less emphasis on books.
    • Are eBooks just another technology or media format to contend with?  Libraries are outsiders to the publishing paradigm.
    • What about libraries?  Adopted, but not embraced? Just another media format to include in the collection?  Is there a presumption that the association between books and libraries will be maintained?
    • Digital media is making the publishing industry rethink how they do business.  Content will be fluid – self-publishing, enhancement of existing content by others.
    • With collections, readers advisory and ??? what value will libraries bring to the ebook domain?  Go from collections to collaboration.  Shift.  Overcome self-perception of libraries and overcome a focus on what the library has, rather than what people can do together.  Need a strong representative for libraries.
    • Libraries do have: widespread public trust and a strong community.  Need to use that trust in new and creative ways.
  • Aaron Schmidt
    • Kindle app makes using this DRM-laden service easy.  Easy to use, reliable, relatively inexpensive.  Is it a number one issue? No, people are using DRM stuff because it works.
    • How do we compete?  Give them the device they want.  Make it easy to use.
    • Make people better readers and make reading more enjoyable.
    • Libraries need to be a kitchen, not a grocery store. NPR article.  Notes: Library as domestic metaphor
  • Michael Bills – B & T digital sales – “Presenting Blio”
    • Blio a collaboration between B & T and Ray Kurzwell and National Federation for the Blind and videogame designers.
    • New file format and platform (software-based eReader) allows for embedded video and audio.  Interactive experience.
    • Computers 44% of preferred reading device, Kindle 36%, iphone 10%
    • Available for download

Midday Keynote – Kevin Kelly Wired (Slides)

  • Internet was original views as ‘tv only better’, but instead it’s a multi-device, multi-source
  • eBooks take place in an environment where there are screens everywhere.
  • Cloud and multiple screens.  Content created by users, not editors and producers.
  • Books as streams, not a collection or series of pages (Sorry, missed a big chunk of this to manage Certificates of Participation)  This will be archived.
  • Realtime – environment of the future
  • Kids – iPad is gestural, so kids can adopt it.  Interact with technology with our full body (Minority report and Ironman) adaptive text – the text watches you back.
  • Book as a ‘copy’ of something – in the new environment, the Internet is a HUGE copy machine.  Things that have value are things that can’t be copied.  Immediacy can’t be copied.  Paying for speed. Pay for personalization. Pay for authenticity (software). Pay for patronage.  Interpretation :: Accessibility :: Embodiment :: Findability – Come out of the context of the user and the creator – Generatives.
  • Shift from ownership to access
  • Great books have changed or declined in cultural relevancy.  Other works have become more popular over time.  Some works will make it into the future.
  • “The joy and benefit of a sustained narrative – rendering a virtual world in your mind – won’t go away.”  Will it be the center of our culture? Maybe not.  Probably will be displaced by something else.  What if something comes alone that is more powerful than a book?
  • Interesting reading: Libraries Launch apps to sync with iPod generation (Washington Post)
  • Metalesson – constant lifelong learning of new technological skills – You will be forever learning new technology as new technology comes. Need to learn how to learn!

Closing Keynote – “New Librarianship” in the Age of the eBook – R. David Lankes (Slides)

  • Thought Experiment – what if for a $10 content fee on every device, you could get a connection from anywhere to download any book at any time.
  • Good thing of bad thing for libraries and librarians?
  • Is the libraries value in collections and buildings OR Libraries value is in Knowledge and making connections
  • Shift from ownership to Rental (databases, DRM, Digital content) :: Artifact Production :: Explosion of Data :: Disintegration of Traditional Publishing Models.  How do you catalog in MARC a gigapixel image?  It’s now messy.
  • Libraries aren’t about owned artifacts.  The threat is the perception by librarians and library members that libraries are about owned artifacts.
  • Current implementation of hardware and software is BORING.  Arcane.  Great potential, but ignoring that in favor of following an old paradigm.
  • Ray covered this: exponential explosion of Storage, Production and Transmission.  But our ability to comprehend that information has NOT changed at all.
  • Need to talk about Learning.  Change from Documents to Conversations.  Maps are a facilitating infrastructure, not just a pretty picture anymore.  Social.
  • When you move to a digital world, the notion of ‘what is a book’ becomes metaphoric.  They are not just ‘electronic book’ – it’s a metaphor.  What can we do with this world?
  • eBooks  seen as: Conceptual :: Within Objects :: Between Objects – ideas beyond how we can change paper to pixels.
  • Reading is quiet and contemplative.  A larger process than just pulling words off the page.  Involves “physical decoding” of the words AND “Cognitive decoding” what are the meaning of the words and natural language processing.  Comprehension, Meaning and Knowledge.
  • While part of reading is very isolating, the larger concept of reading is very social.  What book will I read next, did Oprah like it? who else might like this? etc.
  • We can organize books all different ways thanks to computers.  Books go to blogs go to communities go to movie go to soundtrack go to application.  All of this can be connected because it’s all 1’s and 0’s.  Create new ways to connect them personalized to me!  See what connections are shared and then create ‘recommender systems’
  • Don’t think about ebooks as physical – think of them as an interface and center of a conversation.  Example: ebook, links to other Jane Austen books, mashed up with a timeline, links to FB friends online to share, link to the movie all on a single web page.
  • Get back to Books are artifacts that come out of ongoing conversation.  Add tools to the ebook that allow authoring and creation > annotate > annotate with voice and video
  • How do we learn?  Absorption and Production process.
  • When will libraries be able to tell people how to self-publish an eBook?  Market for PRODUCING materials.  Communities build knowledge.
  • App store allows you be personalize your phone and orchestrate or author your phone environment.  So allow me to personalize my eReader the same way.
  • GPS for the library – routes come from hearing the problem, not dewey.  Go to the real problem that we are trying to solve – knowledge.
  • Stop waiting for “THEM” to Figure this out – This is OUR problem/opportunity
  • Stop buying the Kindle/Nook/eReders and being DISAPPOINTED
  • Stop Whining about Publishers
  • WE MUST BUILD IT – produce it, don’t just consume it
    • Network Infrastructure
    • Platform (iOS, Android)
    • Standards (ePub, XML, RDF)
    • Relations to Authors/Publishers – show a united front
    • Foundational Data (WorldCat, Others)
  • Focus on Conversations and Learning, not reading
  • Libraries should be thrilled with eBooks, not scared by them.  Get into the game and shape it
  • This is Our Opportunity
  • Think Beyond Artifacts and Physical Limitations
  • The Future is Bright for Libraries and Librarians, but ONLY IF WE MAKE IT.
  • Don’t Be Boring! (www.DavidLankes.org)
  • Librarians are the most innovative thing to come out of libraries.  Innovators solve problems in better ways.  Creative problem solving.
  • Our mission is to improve our community through knowledge.  How can we do that? Do we need to leave our library to do this?  We are not a customer or consumer, but a participant.  LEAD!
  • Q&A – Librarianship is a technical profession – yes.  Not every librarian needs to ‘spit out PHP code’ but we need to understand and evaluate hardware and software – be software junkies.

NEKLS To Do list:

  • FAQ for libraries about the different eReader devices for patrons who come in asking about Kindles and Nooks, etc. (Paula W.)
  • Pricing guide – which eReader is the least expensive/affordable for a library?  Are there any grants available?
  • Consumer Reports buyer guide – find and distribute
  • Tipping point and digital gap – what will teens use?  smart phone!
  • Buy some materials for OverDrive
  • Get the Audiobooks, Music and More records cataloged and INTO NExpress (new itypes and collection codes needed, PR to explain what these new records are, handouts ready ahead of time to help staff help patrons access these titles)  “We need to design a good and rich patron experience” 😉

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