European e-lending and American projects

I gave a presentation at Internet Librarian in October, on the situation regarding e-lending across Europe, focussing on Britain.  You can see my presentation on Slideshare.

I came across some sources of really useful information as a result and want to highlight them here.

Firstly, there’s a really great overview of the global ebook market, produced annually by Rudiger Wischenbart Content and Consulting.  It’s really good for putting our own book industry in context.

Next, if you want to know what public libraries across Europe are doing in terms of ebook lending, a good source of information is the NAPLE blog.  NAPLE is the National Association of Public Libraries in Europe, and there’s quite a few articles on there about public library e-lending in a variety of countries.

At the conference, I learnt that there are now five projects in the US which are developing platforms for public libraries to host and lend ebooks:

Evoke – the one that started it all off.  It consists of a number of organisations headed by Douglas County Libraries, and has relationships with around 500 publishers.

The Marmot Library Network in Colorado implemented the Douglas County model for a range of libraries.

Enki launched in 2013 and is delivered by the Califa Library Group, headed by Contra Costa County Libraries, using the Douglas County model.

Amigos is a new project with a range of partners across Texas.

Library Simplified is another new project, ten public library systems led by the New York Public Library.

All five projects represent an alternative.  All five are working on the principle that public libraries have power and reach, can decide for themselves what content to make available rather than depending on aggregators, and can develop huge audiences for new authors, whether mainstream or self-published.

Finally (and thanks to Vincent Bonnet of EBLIDA for bringing this to my attention), Civic Agenda EU has this month produced A Review of Public Library E-lending Models, which is well worth a read.











E-book and e-audio survey, 2014

Photo of a pile of books and an ereaderYou may recall Andrew Coburn from Essex put a message on lis-pub-ebooks earlier this year asking for information from other authorities, so that Essex could benchmark their e-lending service.  He’s kindly given us permission to replicate his survey summary, and here it is.

(Picture:  CC Melenita2012)


Essex Libraries were early adopters of e-books – we subscribed to OverDrive in early 2004 and other suppliers soon after. We got into e-audio quickly too and at one point had three suppliers for each of e-books and e-audio. However our offer had grown ‘like Topsy’. It meant that customers had to get used to different ways of accessing and using stock from different suppliers and remember which was which.

However for Essex, like all public authorities, the improvements in e-offers and budget considerations made us review our e-offer at the end of 2013. Part of the consideration was to ask how much use we get for how much money. While we can get figures for our own service, we had no idea if these are typical. We wanted to benchmark provision against other authorities and so sent out the survey. The survey went out in late May on lis-pub-ebooks and lis-pub-libs.

30 authorities (including Essex) responded. One did not have e-books and four did not have e-audio. One had only recently gone live but I encouraged them to complete the survey for their comments.


In use

Of e-audio suppliers OneClick Digital was the most used (62% of e-audio respondents.) For e-books OverDrive was most used (55% e-books and also 49% e-audio). Askews & Holts showed a reasonable customer base and, as one respondent pointed out, they have the all-Wales consortium though only two responses were received from that group. Bolinda/ Borrowbox are beginning to build a customer base – they were the only other supplier mentioned more than once.

Ulverscroft, Peters and Public Library Online (Bloomsbury) were also listed.

Zinio and Press Display were also mentioned but fall outside the area in which we were interested.

Additional comments.

Two authorities have recently stopped using one or more suppliers – focusing their provision more specifically.

Six authorities were looking at new suppliers- either in addition to current provision or as their first step. Interestingly OverDrive and Askews & Holts were not mentioned in this context.

E-Books – spending and use

Two thirds of respondents spent up to 3% of their total book budget. Of the rest there were two (7%) spending 11- 15%. The others are between those levels.

Two thirds of authorities reported loans of up to 1% of total book loans on e-books. The remainder report 2-3%.

E-Audio– spending and use

There is a wider spread on spend. 11 authorities (38%) are only spending up to 3% but the others are spread over the other 4 levels offered. 6 (17%) spend the equivalent of over 16% of their Spoken Word budget on E-Audio.

Issue percentages are also varied from up to 1% (10 authorities or 34%) to 6% plus (another 11 – 10%) with the balance between those two figures.

Access mechanisms

Most (if not all – it’s not quite clear from the responses) provide separate access through the library website. About half load records to their main catalogue which link to the e-supplier sites and slightly more have a separate e-book/ e-audio catalogue (also linking through to the supplier sites.) This implies that some offer access through the main catalogue but have a separate e-book/ e-audio catalogue as well.

In the additional comments box there seemed to be some enthusiasm for having records in the main library catalogue but not everyone is there yet. In some cases, issues with LMS were mentioned, but others were not specific as to the problem. At least a couple of authorities cite the need to have a dummy item attached to the catalogue record to make it display on the OPAC – a cumbersome process.

Other comments

E-books/E-audio are felt to be popular amongst users and there was enthusiasm to be able to expand whatever offer is already there, but pressure on budgets is preventing this in some cases as well as issues such as problems of integration with catalogue and LMS.

Frustration with the range of content available was expressed by a couple of people.

There was one plea for a national e-book/ e-audio offer. Nobody explicitly mentioned Sieghart’s e-books review or the pilot projects resulting from it.

The benefits of sharing provision in consortia such as the All-Wales one (and at least one other) were also mentioned.


The Survey was useful for Essex in that we can see where stand by comparison with other authorities. We have carried on with our review and made some radical changes this year – we are now down to just two suppliers. This means we have simplified the offer to customers for the present and intend to devise a longer term strategy in early 2015 with a view to trying to ensure that the money is there for the next and future financial years.


The Reading Agency, and CILIP / EBLIDA presentations

Now available:  Sandy Mahal’s presentation about The Reading Agency’s Digital Skills programme.  Sandy’s wi-fi connection dropped halfway through her presentation which meant we never got to see Shirley Book Club’s review of The Family (with, as somebody said, “comedy wigs”).

Also available:  Yvonne Morris and Guy Daines’ presentation about EBLIDA’s The Right to E-read campaign.

Shelf Free national workshop, 13 November – photos and Shelf Free update

If you have a look at this wall, you’ll find some blurry photos of the speakers and the workshops – enough to give you a flavour of the day (although it won’t show you how very cold the theatre was in the morning.)

Also here is the first presentation:  Shelf Free Update.  These are Stephen Edwards’ powerpoint slides giving an overview of the current situation from Shelf Free’s perspective.

Further presentations will follow as they’re provided.

Programme for the Fourth National Ebook Workshop

Here’s the Fourth National Ebook Workshop programme on Wednesday 13 November 2013, at the Library of Birmingham.

We’re extremely grateful to our sponsors, particularly Bibliotheca, our main sponsor:

Bibliotheca logoBibliotheca is the world’s largest company dedicated to the development, deployment and support of RFID, EM/RFID hybrid and barcode-based solutions to libraries.

Askews logoAskews & Holts Library Services are the UK’s leading eBook and eAudio provider to public libraries.  We offer an innovative and unique approach to an exciting and rapidly changing market.

Bolinda Borrowbox logo

Bolinda digital is an innovative leader and expert in the library market, providing high quality eContent via BorrowBox, its unique, customer-branded digital solution and service – and the world’s first fully functional library apps. Browse, borrow, download, then read or listen, all without leaving the app.

Available on the App Store and Google Play.

Oneclickdigital logoOneClickdigital are delighted to attend this workshop, to discuss with libraries how their already successful eAudiobook service here in the UK will be launching eBooks
for Libraries. Our focus in on providing UK published eBook content in a better way to library borrowers.

Available on the App Store and Google Play.