LJ has presented their “Materials Survey 2016.” The online version is not yet available, so look to your February 15 print copy for now.
Entitled “Trend Turnaround” and written by Barbara Hoffert, the survey says “ebook and media budgets have stalled as a percentage of the materials mix”:
Compared to last year, print circulation rose two notices to average 60 percent of total circulation, while ebook circulation remained stuck at five percent overall. Certainly, many library ebook collections are growing. . . . But this year’s figures echo the recent stutter in ebook market, which saw sales fall even as independent bookstores resurged.
ReadersFirst celebrates all reading and is delighted if print book circulation rises. We are pleased, too, that the article cites librarians’ concerns about why eBook use isn’t growing as fast as it once did. Says Prudence Fallon of Tiverton Public Library, “There are still problems with consistency of format, ease, the ability to download ebooks, and the charging of ebook reader devices. Until all ebooks and ereaders perform consistently and the same way across all formats and devices, users will become frustrated and reach for ‘old reliable,’ the book.”
Notes Mary Wallace Moore of Smyrna Public Library, The cost of purchasing an ebook is still way too high, so I cannot provide in depth of selection. . . that I can in print.” Adds Nick Szegda of Menlo Park Library, “The difficulties in dealing with DRM software to get your ‘free” library eBook make it less attractive than it could be. Also an issue: “restricted ‘copies’ of an ebook must be purchased. Can’t we go to a per download model?”
Great question! I haven’t checked to see if these libraries are ReadersFirst members; however, if not, Prudence, Mary, and Nick, come join us! You are making points we support. There is still MUCH work to be done in simplifying and streamlining eBook reading, in moving discovery into our PACs and away from vendor sites and apps, and in working out a fair business model that takes realizes ebook advantages of 24/7 anywhere accessibility. Aren’t we letting down our readers if we don’t challenge the status quo? A library ebook stutter? If we build the right model, they will come. And read. Once more unto the breach!