The Panorama Project Conducts a Survey

The Panorama Project “The Panorama Project is the only cross-industry research project studying the impact of 17,000 U.S. public libraries on title/author discovery and retail sales. The project is using real world data and analytics to provide insights into how libraries affect retail sales.” As part of their efforts, they are conducting a survey of Readers Advisory and library marketing efforts. Libraries, please consider responding. ReadersFirst will post a link to the results when the are available.

Take the survey here.

Partnership to Further National E-book Platform Created

In a Press Release, New York Public Library, Lyrasis, and the Digital Pubic Library of America (DPLA) have provided the following information:

“[We] are pleased to announce a new collaboration to help provide all public libraries with a free, open, library-controlled platform for managing their e-book and audiobook services.

Through this newly-established collaboration, DPLA, NYPL, and LYRASIS will each offer core services and tools that, in combination, will provide public libraries across the United States with a full-service pathway to acquire and deliver e-books and audiobooks through a library-controlled marketplace and platform.

The DPLA Exchange (, launched in 2017 and now providing access to over 300,000 titles including thousands of openly-licensed works, offers a new model for a library-centered marketplace for e-books and audiobooks.

NYPL provides the foundation of the new platform with its free-to-use e-book reader, SimplyE, which was developed to make ebooks easily accessible to the public through their libraries, and to allow libraries to organize and deliver their ebooks directly to patrons through a library-controlled app.  

LYRASIS, a leading non-profit delivering hosted solutions and technology support to libraries, offers preferred cloud-based hosting, ensuring that every library, large and small, can adopt and use SimplyE and the DPLA Exchange.

‘DPLA’s collaboration with NYPL and LYRASIS exemplifies the shared approach that is core to our work and represents an important step in the expansion of the DPLA Exchange and other ebook initiatives over the coming years, with support from the Sloan Foundation,’ said DPLA Executive Director John Bracken.

‘The New York Public Library is excited to work with these two great organizations to help public libraries across the country and to continue supporting our shared mission to make information as freely accessible as possible to all,’ said NYPL President Anthony W. Marx.

‘Public Libraries are crucial to our communities, our engagement with knowledge and learning, and in linking people-to-people. As a mission driven organization, LYRASIS is proud to partner with DPLA and NYPL in this effort to deliver a solution that is focused on library-centered control and maximizing impact on their communities,’ said Robert Miller, CEO of LYRASIS.

In addition to announcing their expanded collaboration, DPLA, NYPL, and LYRASIS are excited to work more closely with members of the library community across the US. The SimplyE Community Leadership Advisory Council, representing institutions across the country, will provide critical on-the-ground insight and guidance about the development of new tools and features, as well as strategies for reaching more libraries.  The members of the inaugural SimplyE Advisory Council are:

  • Kendall Wiggin, State Librarian, Connecticut State Library

  • Michael Blackwell, Project Manager, Maryland State Library Digital eLibrary Consortium

  • Deirdre Brennan, Executive Director, Reaching Across Illinois Library System

  • Paul Swanson, Technology Director, Minitex

  • Christine Peterson, Project Manager, Amigos

  • Paula MacKinnon, Executive Director, Califa

  • John Herbert, Technology Director, LYRASIS

  • Michele Kimpton, Director of Business Development, DPLA

  • Tony Ageh, Chief Digital Officer, NYPL”

ReadersFirst has commented upon the DPLA Exchange and SimplyE before but welcomes this new effort to expand both initiatives. SimplyE offers libraries the ability to launch content from across vendors without leaving the libraries’ own virtual space, promoting the libraries’ brand and enhancing privacy. The DPLA Exchange is not only providing some unique content but is advocating for new license models that will give libraries the ability to use their resources better. Both initiatives are working to improve the digital content experience and are worth investigating.

[Disclosure: the author is in the SimplyE Advisory Council]

A Second Elending Paper is Being Published

A second paper from the Elending Project is being published. This one covers the 100,000 title study done of OverDrive’s Marketplace in 5 countries:  Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

 Download it here.

As previously posted in our news, the Elending Project is an Australian Research Council Linkage Project, led by Associate Professor Rebecca Giblin.

Professor Giblin had the following comments on the paper for ReadersFirst:

“The headline findings from this second paper are that publisher licensing practices are making it infeasible for public libraries to hold many culturally valuable titles in their collections, particularly older books. We show also that ebook prices to libraries have nothing to do with title age, country it's licensed in, or the rights libraries get in exchange for their money - instead, they're set completely at publisher whim.”

The Group’s work is not done. Professor Giblin adds “We're now continuing on with our analysis of the survey results and then beginning to formulate our recommendations about how law and policy ought to be reformed in light of this new evidence.”

The paper gives considerable evidence for things librarians have thought about the library eBook market based on our experiences but perhaps not always backed up with actual study. It is well-worth reading. If you agree, I hope you will share it elsewhere. ReadersFirst eagerly awaits the Elending Project’s recommendations.

Full disclosure: this paper cites work conducted by ReadersFirst and the author’s library provided access to collect the USA data in the study.

Why sell E-Books to Libraries? Libraries Can Help Fight E-Book Piracy

Katy Guest has published an article in The Guardian, “‘I can get any novel I want in 30 seconds’: can book piracy be stopped?” She reviews the unfortunate prevalence of downloading pirated copies. Stopping the practice is difficult: “whack a mole” sites spring up again elsewhere as soon as they are shut down, providing a constant supply of Grishams, Pattersons, Rowlings and many others without charging.

People who engage in the practice offer many justifications, but the root cause seems to be an ignorance of (or refusal to accept) the cost to authors and publishers: “Generally, pirates tend to be from better-off socioeconomic groups, and aged between 30 and 60. . . those who responded always justified it by claiming they were too poor to buy books – then tell me they read them on their e-readers, smartphones or computer screens - or that their areas lacked libraries, or they found it hard to locate books in the countries where they lived. . . Most regularly downloaded books illegally and while some felt guilty – more than one said they only pirated ‘big names’ and when ‘the author isn’t on the breadline, think Lee Child’ – the majority saw nothing wrong in the practice. ‘Reading an author’s work is a greater compliment than ignoring it,’ said one, while others claimed it was part of a greater ethos of equality, that ‘culture should be free to all’.”

ReadersFirst’s interest in the article is sparked by the mention of libraries. Librarians are not so naive as to think that making digital content available through our channels will stop illegal sharing. But could we play a part in reducing piracy? Perhaps instead of refusing comment on the practice, hoping not to spread word of the practice, as several publishers did for this article, publishers should try a different tack: “‘Education, not regulation, is key’, she [novelist Joanne Harris] told the Guardian: ‘If there is a solution to this, rather than keep trying to shut down these sites, it is to get the reading public to understand why using them is dishonest, wrong and is killing publishing and killing diversity in publishing. When you realise that [authors] are not really unlike you at all, you see that what it boils down to is you’re stealing the product of someone else’s work’.” Libraries can help, but we can be an even more effective partner if we have a broad and deep collection to rival what we offer in print. Current licensing models and pricing make building such collections difficult now, even for large libraries. Can we work together to fight piracy? Yes, and even more effectively if publishers help us have the collections that might make some people consider finding another “free” source for reading.

An Important Paper on Library E-Book Content is Available

A pre-print of an International Elending Study of e-book availability, pricing, and licensing is available from the journal Information Research.  Download it here.

 It is well-worth a look for those interested in the library digital experience.  Here’s a brief summary, but it does not do justice to research that is the first of its kind and that has important ramifications for how we should continue advocating with publishers (and aggregators) for improving e-book access.

"Availability of e-book titles is better than expected, with digital library availability approaching that of print. Just because titles are available, however, does not make them accessible. Licensing models, especially the growth of metered access, complicate access, often making only likely best-sellers seem viable. Our ability to create the deep collections we offer in print is circumscribed, especially in light of high cost and the lack of variable licensing terms.    

ReadersFirst encourages please consider spreading word of this important contribution to library literature.

Full Disclosure: the paper cites members of the ReadersFirst Working Group

Controlled Digital Lending Sees Further Challenges

Andrew Albanese of Publishers Weekly has published an article exploring how another group, The National Writers Union, has joined the outcry against Controlled Digital Lending (CDL). CDL is the process “by which a library (or a nonprofit, like the Internet Archive) scans a print copy of a book they have legally acquired, then makes the scan available to be borrowed in lieu of the print book, using a DRM-protected one user/one copy model, and, crucially, taking the corresponding print book out of circulation while the digital copy is on loan.”

At issue is whether the practice is fair. Authors and publishers are taking the stand that such scans replace existing digital licenses and cost them revenue. Advocates of CDL argue that owning a physical copy of a title, holding it from circulation, and restricting its scan to one user at a time merely replicates typical library lending.

ReadersFirst does not currently take a stand on CDL but advocates for sharing of resources as openly a possible within the limits of fair use. We will watch developments with interest. This one may get settled in the courts. Mr. Albanese’s article explores the topic in detail and is well worth a read.

Disclosure: a member of the ReadersFirst Working Group was interviewed for the article and is working on a pilot project (not yet public) with the Internet Archive’s Open Library, the primary exponent of CDL and the main target of publisher and author groups’ ire.

E-books Cost and Licensing in the News

The Philadelphia Inquirer has released a piece on the challenges libraries face with digital content, focused on RF member The Free Library of Philadelphia but exploring the issue in some depth. It is good to see the issues related to library digital content use get explored in the general media and not just library publication.

Read the article here.

Disclosure: members of RF were interviewed for the article.

Canadian Libraries Take the Lead

Canadians are often noted for politeness, but Canadian libraries, led by the Canadian Urban Library Council (CULC), are showing grit and determination in taking concerns about library digital content pricing and business models to the (virtual) streets.

They are following up their earlier “Fair Pricing for Libraries” initiative with, calling upon citizens to call out publishers on library pricing and availability. Canadian libraries will post links on their websites and use social media to engage readers to demand better access for themselves through libraries..

Here are some details:

“Hello and thanks for joining us and participating in the upcoming #eContentForLibraries campaign.

 A reminder that the campaign is starting Monday January 14th and will run until January 25th. A press release will be issued the morning of.

Please review the toolkit ( and help spread the word about on social media, with local media outlets and with other local stakeholders.

We also ask that you link to the campaign from your own site. The call to action is to share the page and contact multinational publishers directly on social media to demand change.

If you have any questions, please contact Jefferson Gilbert, Executive Director, CULC/CBUC, “

ReadersFirst regrets that this is not an international initiative.

In support, we have worked with a member of the ALA Division ASCGLA to see if the division will support a proclamation to be adopted by the ALA. See below. This process is still very much in the works, and it is too early to know if action will be taken. Perhaps ASCGLA and ALA will prefer other ways of making a statement. With the Tor/Macmillan change of last summer, however, and other possible rollbacks of library content by publishes looming, maybe it is time for us in the USA to get into the game.

For now, Go, CULC, Canadian libraries, and Canadian readers!


Resolution on eBook pricing for libraries

Whereas Canadian Public Libraries for Fair eBook Pricing has led efforts “to raise awareness of eBook pricing issues, with the goal of ensuring broad access to eBooks for Canadian readers” ( and );

Whereas the Canadian Urban Library Council (CULC) has declared that the high cost of eBooks and audiobooks, content unavailable to libraries, and restrictive licensing models are not a sustainable model for Canadian Libraries;

Whereas libraries and their readers in the United States face the same barriers to access of titles that exist in Canada, preventing access by citizens to information; now, therefore, be it

Resolved, that the American Library Association (ALA)

 1.     Urges the ALA Committee on Legislation to draft a statement supporting CULC and calling for fair eBook pricing in the United States that will balance the importance of compensating authors and publishers with greater access to information in support of democratic ideals;

2.     Urges the “Big 5” publishers to develop a variety of digital content license models that will allow libraries to provide content more effectively, allowing options to choose between one-at-a-time, metered, and other options to be made at point of sale;

3.     Urges the “Big 5” publishers to make all content available in print and for which digital variants have been created to make the digital content equally available to libraries without moratorium or embargo;

4.     Urges the creation of a joint working group of representatives from ALA, CULC, ULC, and other members to be determined to address library concerns with publishers and content providers;

5.     Urges the “Big 5” and other publishers to enter in to conversation with the library working group to explore all fair options for delivering content digitally in libraries;

6.     Urges Congress to explore digital content pricing and licensing models to ensure democratic access to information

The Museum and Library Services Act Has Passed!

From our Friends at ALA Washington Office, some good news:

“Congress has passed S. 3530, the Museum and Library Services Act (MLSA) sponsored by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI)! We are so proud and thrilled to see one of ALA's top priorities - reauthorizing the Institute of Museum and Library Services - cross the finish line tonight, capping two years of intensive efforts by ALA members and library advocates.

Please take a moment to thank your representative and senators for renewing their commitment to America's libraries by passing this important bill.

ALA advocates, we applaud your steadfast work to move MLSA forward and to send a strong message to Congress that libraries and the vital services they provide have longstanding value in every community across the country. Thank you for everything you do!”