As we approach this year’s BookExpo America (BEA), it’s useful, perhaps especially to publishers, to contemplate where libraries fit into the broad book market. It’s hard to ignore just how fundamentally important libraries have become to the potential success of a book—that is, if you pay attention to a few simple facts and are willing to question persistent myths.
When Open Road Media published an ebook edition of Jean Craighead George’s 1973 Newbery Award–winning Julie of the Wolves in 2011, it was business as usual for the company, which had secured rights from George prior to her death in 2012. But HarperCollins sued Open Road in 2011, saying that its 1971 contract superseded Open Road’s and gave it the exclusive right to license the ebook. On March 14, Publishers Lunch reported that Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald had ruled in favor of Harper.
Journal price data is important for budget management processes, but price alone is not the sole factor determining value. Some metrics, like Impact Factor, have become important in assessing value, and similar value metrics will only increase in importance in the future. The implementation of the Counter 4 during 2014 will expand the availability of usage data from journals, databases, ebooks, and multimedia to support better decision-making. Building upon COUNTER (Counting Online Usage of Networked Electronic Resources) and working with the digital object identifier (DOI) and ORCID (open researcher and contributor ID) identifier, the PIRUS (Publisher and Institutional Repository Usage Statistics) Code of Practice is designed to provide usage data at the individual article level, consolidating usage across platforms.
The birth of the World Wide Web 25 years ago was the big bang event that spurred more change in the serials and scholarly publishing world than seen in the century that preceded it. Since that time, we have rapidly evolved from the print world to that of e-journals, e-journal packages, and open access (OA). But in the serials ecosystem, as in nature, not all things evolve at the same rate, and the cumulative impact of subtle steps can bring about profound change over time. Despite some notable events, such as the purchase of Mendeley by Elsevier, the sale of Springer to BC Partners, and the launch of SCOAP 3, there was no major disruption in the serials world during 2013.
Nine months after the merger of two of the biggest names in the publishing world, stakeholders and industry watchers may have their first good idea of what to expect from the newly created book giant Penguin Random House (PRH). The company released the results of its 2013 fiscal year, and the details paint a rosy picture for investors, even while executives say there is a lot of work left to be done merging the former Penguin and Random House business operations.
Public libraries have been publishers before, largely of annual reports, bulletins, and printed catalogs of special collections–items that are now integrated into the catalog itself or available online. More recently, libraries have facilitated the self-publishing efforts of their communities, such as Sacramento Public Library’s iStreet Press and Temecula Public Library’s Flash Books! And academic libraries have entered the scholarly publishing business in increasing numbers. But what might a publishing imprint run by a local library look like? Over the past two years, two public libraries have begun to explore that question.
The first phase of the Lever Initiative is nearly complete, so it seems a good time to share what we’ve learned. In 2010, I sent an email to a group of liberal arts college library directors suggesting a crazy idea: what if we jointly investigated the possibility of starting an open access press? We formed a task force to explore the idea. The next step, should we decide to go forward, will be to explore what exactly we might do and how we would fund it.
In February, Open Road Integrated Media announced that it would acquire E-Reads, a pioneer ebook publisher founded in 1999 by literary agent Richard Curtis. The deal is scheduled to close April 1, and adds 1,200 titles to Open Road’s catalog of 4,200 digital books. “It fleshes out Open Road’s growing genre list, specifically science fiction and fantasy,” said company cofounder and CEO Jane Friedman, “with authors like Harlan Ellison, Greg Bear, John Norman, Dave Duncan, Dan Simmons, Brian Aldiss, and Robert Sheckley.” The company plans to make the books available to all channels, including libraries, shortly after the agreement takes effect.
In an internal Random House memo, Jen Childs, director of Library Marketing, reported that the department’s latest initiative, First Look Book Club, took off to a roaring start in February, with 2,500 subscribers opting in. The club, a new book discovery tool, is an offshoot of Suzanne Beecher’s Dear Reader, which began offering five-minute chapter snippets in 2000. While many libraries subscribe to Dear Reader for a fee (it is free to library patrons), the First Look Book Club is free to all and goes direct to librarians, patrons, and “book lovers everywhere,” said Childs, with one Random House title featured each week.