October 18, 2017

E-books Discussed at Charleston Conference

By LJ Staff

In addition to numerous discussions on OpenURL and e-journals at the recent Charleston Conference, November 5-8, there was much talk of e-books. ebrary’s Chris Warnock predicted that publishers would soon learn that they “don’t need digital rights management to protect content.” Warnock, speaking at a panel on e-books, said that security has become more of a barrier to sales. “Publishers can make information accessible and make money,” he said. As for Amazon’s new program exposing book content, Warnock says the media, for the most part, have gotten it wrong: “Librarians are leading in this area, not Amazon. They’re just not getting recognition in the evolution of the Internet.” Participants were mixed on what, if any, impact Amazon’s decision would have on libraries. One thing was clear, however: libraries want to own e-content, not lease it. “Just give us the XML file, we’ll figure out how to distribute it,” said the University of Guelph’s Scott Gillies. As for e-books, most said it was time for publishers to start “thinking outside the book,” and begin producing products that take full advantage of the new medium.

Cornell’s Phil Davis delivered an impassioned plea for greater transparency in journal pricing. He proposed that librarians create a web site that would house information about their licenses and their costs. While many libraries sign nondisclosure agreements, others are in states where such information must be disclosed. According to one estimate, nearly 30 percent of ARL libraries are in such states. Debate raged whether revealing this data would help or hinder pricing structures for libraries.