Friday, June 13, 2008

When did e-books become serials? (NASIG 2008)

When did (E)books become serials?

Rick Lugg presented an overview of the issue including the differences and similarities between e-books and e-journals the gist of which was that the advent of E-journals has brought libraries and their users more content, increased usage, heavy print cancellations, archiving issues, larger share of the materials budget, need to be more selective as a result of recurring costs, more labor intensive.

Similarities between ebooks and ejournals
- both subscription based products
- online (sometimes predetermined) collections
- online “rental”

Differences between ebooks and ejournals
- more individual titles and decisions
- less granuar content and therefore less a&I infrastructure
- owned?
- Platform or maintenance fees
- Strong tradition of expert selection
- Traditional discovery tool is the opac
- Linking and aggregation is less developed
- Different acquisition models
o Platform fees
o Coordination with print
o Online or download
o Selectors and approval plans
o Acquisition on demand

Kim Armstrong (consortium perspective). Libraries have been discussion the same issues surrounding e-books since 1998 including such questions as
- What are the advantages and disadvanatages of ebooks over paper?
- What are the a/d of the current e-book publishing formats?
- What’s the best ebook and reader and should we invest in readers/
- When should we buy and ebook and when should we lease them
By a show of hands in the audience, libraries are still discussing them. Her point is that not a lot of progress has been achieved.

She talked about a deal between CIC (the consortium at which she is employed) with Ingram/Springer for the purchase of the entire Springer e-book output between 2005 and 2010. It provided them with a platform for hosting other publisher’s ebooks they might purchase during this period. Between January and May 2008 their usage showed a “thirst” among patrons for e-books in that their e-book usage was almost 50% of their e-journal usage during the first five months they were available even without the availability of catalog records. It will important to let go of our old models for dealing with books in order to provide our patrons with the e-books they thirst for.

Bob Nardini (e-book aggregator). “Books are back and we need to figure them out a second time.” Pointed out the need for interoperability between publishers, aggregators, and vendors in order to control e-books. Also pointed out the similarity between articles and books that was recently highlighted by the Harvard A&S faculty’s decision to archive their own works in an open repository where they are associated more with their author and the institution than with a group of other articles under the title, vol and issue of a journal.

Peter McCracken (e-journal management system vendor) focused his discussion on the management of e-books and e-journals. Similarities: delivery mechanism and licensing. Differences: e-books are not continually expanding and don’t compare with e-journals in terms of size. Conventional expectations include a need for more accurate information more quickly, bib records for e-books are far more descriptive than for serials and therefore more important for for e-journals, and greater expectations.

E-book management challenges
- title selection: too many records for libraries to manage by hand
- need a better way of transferring metadata from publisher to library thus all parties involved have to work together (more interoperability)
- proceedings: give libraries the opportunity to treat e-proceedings as either monographs or serials
- edition question: which ISSN or ISBN to use?
- different editions are the same, different formats (translations, film, Kindle, audio book, etc) are different which points out the ISBN question

He’s an engaging speaker because he’s so enthusiastic in a geeky sort of way!

Is what he’s really saying that we need a better system for identifying differences between e-books in an electronic environment? Perhaps a la Mike K’s “information shadows” from this morning?

One of the other things he’s saying is that often the relevance of the need for identifying different editions or formats is in the “eye of the beholder”…sometimes you may want to read Huck Finn and any edition will do but on the other hand sometimes you may want to ‘read’ a French translation via audio. That’s a really interesting point in the face of the arguments we’ve had in my library lately about multiple records for a single work ‘confusing’ the patron who just wants to read Huck Finn. Adolpho T. makes a good point that FRBR resolves this.

Great food for thought here: how could we treat e-books more like e-journals and would doing so be useful for our patrons and if it is more useful for them how will we know?

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