Of Interest to Academic Librarians and Library Users: Buy or Wait?

Academic librarian and e-book users face a dilemma that public librarians seldom do. Academic e-book titles titles seldom appear at the same time as the print version. Typically, there is a waiting period. With budgets under stress due to many reasons--perhaps not least the escalating costs of journals--few titles are likely to be acquired in both print and digital versions. So, is it best to buy right away and get timely access to content or wait for a digital version that may offer advantages in access and storage? Karen Kohn of Temple University has done an analysis to hep with the decision. She concludes (in part) the following: 

Publishing e‐books simultaneous with the print is still not the norm, despite some publishers’ stated intentions, and thus deciding what to do about delays is still an issue for libraries. This analysis of publication patterns can better equip libraries to make decisions about how long they will wait to see if an e‐book becomes available. This study shows that the older a print book gets, the more likely it is to have an electronic version, but that the largest gains in e‐book availability come during the first few weeks after the print publication. Waiting for an e‐book becomes less worthwhile the longer the wait. While 47.85% of books are available as e‐books fourteen days after the print, it is not until day 101 that the percentage tops seventy‐five percent. Libraries wishing to review their wait periods based on the data provided here will most likely choose a wait period between eight and thirty‐six days. After thirty‐six days, continuing to wait is usually not worthwhile, unless a particular school or program has such a strong preference for e‐books that print is not considered to be useful.   

ReadersFirst is glad for the increased understanding Ms. Kohn brings to the subject and encourages investigating her study.