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JISC Collections e-textbook business models study: report and presentation of findings Albert Prior & Paul Harwood

Submitted to:

Caren Milloy


16th February 2011


Final version



DISCLAIMER While every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy, the authors make no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or completeness of information contained in this report.

Acknowledgements: 2

The authors of the report would like to thank all of the participants for the time they have committed to the trials and for their input at the post-trials meetings and in reading and commenting on this report.

1. INTRODUCTION AND CONTEXT In 2006 JISC Collections commissioned a report to analyse the current status of the e-books market among higher education libraries and to recommend potential roles for JISC Collections in support of the market. The ‘Feasibility Study on the Acquisition of e-Books by HE Libraries and the Role of JISC’ is available at: At the time the report identified that although aggregators and publishers were making more e-books available, these tended not to be the “major textbooks” demanded by students. The JISC national e-books observatory project: JISC’s National e-books observatory project (, which ran between January 2007 and November 2009 was designed to: •

Evaluate the use of course text e-books through deep log analysis and analyse the impact of the free at the point of use course text e-books upon publisher, aggregator and library processes (free at point of use meaning no requirement by users to make payment for access).

Transfer knowledge acquired in the project to publishers, aggregators and libraries to help stimulate a course text e-books market that has appropriate business and licensing models for library purchase.

The impetus for the project was feedback from the higher education library community that there is a demand for relevant e-textbooks and monographs that is not being met due to uncertainties over business models, platforms and impacts upon publishers’ print sales revenue. One strand of the e-books observatory project was the focus group work undertaken by Information Automation Ltd (Ebook Collection Management in UK University Libraries, (see: which confirmed a number of the findings from the feasibility study undertaken in 2006: When asked how e-versions of textbooks were used in the library, focus group respondents indicated:  “It’s useful to be able to have the e-books, I’m afraid really as a back-up rather than a core”  “…but we find that if they’re desperate and all the copies are out on loan of the print version, they’ll soon go to e-books…just sheer force of the situation will do it”  “….providing the extra access for short periods of time, or while the courses are running, so that you are providing supplementary access for things that are on reading lists” When asked what type of content was missing, they replied:  “Just the major textbooks. It’s still the major textbooks, whichever platform”  “..the kind of material they probably want is the textbook kind of thing that publishers aren’t yet releasing to the libraries in e-book format”  “with my subject area, I don’t tend to find e-textbooks” 3

Finding appropriate business models for library delivered course e-textbooks: In Autumn 2008, JISC Collections sought to take a leadership role in trying to resolve the frustrations expressed by librarians with regard to the lack of availability of e-textbooks and suitable business models for these, and engaged a Consultancy to arrange a series of trials involving publishers of core textbooks serving UK higher education, the principal aggregators used by HE libraries and a selection of higher education institutions. A contract was awarded to a partnership of Content Complete Ltd and OnlyConnect Consultancy. In April 2009, and preceding any trials, the partnership produced a landscape report which surveyed the current status of the higher education textbook market in the UK and drew on examples from overseas to chart the development of the e-textbook and the various initiatives being pursued by publishers. The final report can be found at: The report itself addressed four key areas as listed below:  To provide an overview of the current status regarding the supply of textbooks in electronic form in the UK, drawing on experience from the US as appropriate;  To understand what the barriers are to library provision of widely-adopted core textbooks in electronic form;  To establish the level of interest in business models trials for widely-adopted core textbooks in the institutional market amongst key stakeholders including librarians, publishers, e-book aggregators, and booksellers;  To put forward recommendations about options for business models trials for widely-adopted core textbooks in order to provide data to inform future strategy for all stakeholders, and to suggest a timescale for implementation and review, and the budget required to support this.

The recommendations in the report regarding the trials that were to take place in Phase 2 were underpinned by the following principles:  Existing ‘adopted’ textbooks to be used wherever possible  Access would be provided by the library at each institution  An unlimited concurrent user model would be used wherever possible and unless otherwise specified by the library  Libraries would continue to order/retain any print copies taken  Publishers would provide a theoretical price for each institution at the outset of the trial, but no actual charges would be applied. It was also agreed amongst the participants that no special promotion or marketing would take place other than what the libraries would normally do when introducing a new online resource.


Four scenarios were selected for the trials as a result of what was learned from the landscape study . These were: •

Assessing the sustainability of offering access to e-textbooks via aggregated platforms and/or publisher-specific platforms under a range of access models

Libraries offering a range of different access to students (ie what do students want if they have a choice, and how can libraries help?)

What impact does offering e-access via libraries have on print sales of textbooks, and what do students want if they have a choice?

Does making online access available through libraries improve the sell-through of existing, adopted textbooks?

The overall objectives of the trials were: –

To analyse the economics of a selection of business models for e-textbooks and course text e-books in terms of impact on publisher print sales / revenue and library budgets

To assess the management of a selection of business models for e-textbooks and course text e-books in terms of administrative burden and ease of implementation

To make recommendations about business models for e-textbooks and course texts e-books following the trials, that are sustainable both in terms of profitability for publishers and value for money for libraries.

Issues that the trials would seek to explore included, for example: –

How much use had been made of the e-versions of the textbooks?

How had numbers of library loans been affected as a result of digital versions being used by students?

Had publishers’ print sales decreased, or increased even, during the life of the trials?

Had the trials helped publishers in considering possible business models for library provision?

What would be the effect on library budgets if they funded e-textbook provision to students?

3. THE TRIALS – PARTICIPANTS, TEXTBOOKS, ACCESS MODELS: Participants: Ten UK HE institutions, eight textbook publishers and three aggregators took part in the trials, which commenced in September 2009. The full list of participants can be seen in Appendix 1. Institutions were chosen on the basis of their size (large, medium and small institutions across the sector) and general interest in this area of work. The aggregators were nominated by each institution and the textbook publishers were, in effect, self-selecting being the major players in the higher education textbook marketplace. 5

Publishers placed between 1 and 3 textbooks in the trials, and in the majority of the cases, the textbooks were made available via the library’s aggregator of choice. The exceptions were Cengage, which in one of the trials offered access directly via its own platform, and Wiley-Blackwell which made access available via its own platform, WileyPLUS. All of the books made available were essentially e-versions (predominantly PDFs) of the printed text with the exception of the Wiley-Blackwell books which offered additional functionality. Librarians made the e-books available via their respective catalogues. Aggregators supplied the appropriate MARC records in each case.

4. TIMESCALES AND DURATION: During Spring and Summer 2009 discussions were held with many of the publishers, librarians and aggregators who had been interviewed in the initial landscape report, to seek agreement from them to participate in the trials. By early September 2009, agreement had been reached with the organisations listed in the appendix and a number of kick-off meetings and conference calls were held with the partners of each individual trial. The overall aim had been to ensure that all the titles in the individual trials would be accessible to students from the beginning of the new academic year (September 2009). In readiness for that date, librarians set up arrangements for informing relevant academic staff and students; publishers made sure that their textbooks were available digitally and aggregators worked with the publishers to ensure that the titles were all accessible via their platforms for the start of term. Separate publisher and librarian workshops were held immediately after the trials (also attended by the participating aggregators) and this report includes feedback gathered at those meetings to supplement the data gathered from the trials themselves. Access models: Two institutions opted for a limited, concurrent user model, whereas all other library participants requested unlimited access and this was agreed by those publishers participating in the relevant trials..

5. DATA COLLECTION AND SUMMARY Agreement was established in each of the trial kick-off meetings, as to the historical data that would be provided by participants at the start of the trials. Agreement was also reached on data to be collected during and at the end of the trials, that would allow for comparison of actual data against historical data. This would enable an assessment to be made as to whether sales of print versions of the textbooks had been affected by the availability to students of the eversions of the books, the scale of use by students of the e-versions and whether the data would assist both publishers and librarians in considering library provision of e-text books in future. The data collected at the commencement of the trials included: Publishers: •

Numbers of copies sold in 2007/8 and 2008/9 of the print versions of the textbooks. 6

Libraries: • •

Numbers of copies of the print versions purchased by participating libraries in 2007/8 and 2008/9 Numbers of library loans of the print versions of the trial textbooks held in the library, 2007/8 and 2008/9

Data collected at the end of the trials then included figures for the trial period and enabled an evaluation to be made over a 3 year period. These included library purchases, library loans, and also usage data relating to the e-version of the textbooks in the trial period. The full data are provided in the separate file accompanying this report. Please note that for confidentiality reasons, no details of the publishers or book titles are included.

6. FINDINGS FROM THE DATA: In assessing the findings from the data, a number of assumptions have been made because of difficulties in comparing data year on year, for a number of reasons, including changes to student numbers, teaching staff, the edition of the textbook etc. Library purchases of print copies of the trials textbooks: At the commencement of the trials, librarians were asked not to be influenced by the availability of the e-books in the trials, in respect of copies they would plan to purchase for library use, ie ‘purchase as usual’. The 17 textbook titles were included in 24 trials across the 10 libraries, as can be seen in the tables in Appendix 1. The numbers of print copies purchased for 2009/10 across the 24 trials ranged from zero to 20. In 11 cases, no copies were purchased at all for the 2009/10 period. A number of the librarians felt no need to purchase further copies in situations where the edition was current, rather than a new edition, and the library had sufficient print stock. Other reasons for not purchasing copies for the trial period included the extent to which the title was a core textbook or not and the assessment by the library of the size of the enrolment for the relevant course.

Library loans of trials textbooks: In two of the trials, the libraries had no loans during 2008/9, generally because the textbook was only used in 2009/10. Of the remaining 22 trials, the numbers of loans of the print versions increased in 2009/10 in 14 cases and decreased in 8 cases. Reasons for these increases and decreases would have included: the size of the enrolment for the relevant course; the year of the course; the extent of recommendations by teaching staff. Examples of the largest decreases in numbers of loans in 2009/10 over 2008/9 were: 119 down to 57; 272 down to 183; 159 down to 95. When librarians were asked whether more time spent by libraries initially on promoting the trials to students would have affected the figures, it was felt that this might have resulted in slightly higher figures for loans of print versions and usage of e-versions, but there would have been only a small increase in numbers. One librarian indicated that in their case, there are other ‘general’ textbooks that students could use as background reading for their studies and unless books feature on reading lists, students tend to give them less priority. 7

Across the trials, some of the print versions of the textbooks involved were included in some of the libraries’ short loan collections. When asked about the scanning of parts of the textbooks, librarians reported there were very few situations where parts of the trials textbooks were scanned under the CLA HE Comprehensive Licence, for inclusion in catalogues etc.

Usage data: -

Standardised reporting

The provision and analysis of usage statistics for e-books is still very much work in progress and lags some way behind what has been achieved in the journals field. COUNTER has created Codes of Practice for e-books based on a number of ‘book reports’ as listed below: BR1= Book Report 1: Number of Successful Title Requests by Month and Title BR2= Book Report 2: Number of Successful Section Requests by Month and Title BR3= Book Report 3: Turnaways by Month and Title BR4= Book Report 4: Turnaways by Month and Service BR5= Book Report 5: Total Searches and Sessions by Month and Title BR6= Book Report 6: Total Searches and Sessions by Month and Service The aggregators participating in these trials all provide reports that comply with COUNTER standards, although only MyiLibrary actually features on the COUNTER web site as a compliant vendor. Additionally, aggregators can provide their own, more detailed reports and all three made this data available to participating libraries and publishers at the end of the trial period. Standardisation of reporting is a real issue for librarians, not least because of the requirements to complete SCONUL annual returns. For one of the trials, where no aggregator was involved, the publisher provided its own usage data. Although the COUNTER reports provide some standardisation of reporting, they are not at the same level of granularity as the tailored reports that the aggregators are able to generate. However, what you gain from the tailored reporting in terms of detail you lose in terms of standardisation, as illustrated in the table below: Aggregator Download vs online access identified


Dawson Books




Number of pages accessed

Number of minutes used

Ability to identify unique users



Levels of usage in the trials:

With a few exceptions, the overall level of usage of the books across the trials was low. This could be attributed to the following: The publishers submitted what they considered to be core textbooks, however the books used may not always have been recognized as ‘core’ by some of the participating libraries. Using ‘core’ textbooks was one of the underlying principles of the trials and this was addressed in the pre-trials phase of the project when liaising with potential publisher and library partners. However, it is not always easy to define a ‘core’ textbook . Textbook recommendations vary from subject to subject, and some subjects do still work around a core textbook whereas others don’t, with the emphasis more on a wider range of material on reading lists. Also, what may be a core text in one university may simply be recommended reading in another. One measure could be the presence of the book in the short loan collection at a university library (or the virtual equivalent) and, as stated earlier, some, but not all, of the textbooks were included by librarians in their short loan collections. -

Students were not aware of their availability

Feedback from the student surveys suggested that a significant proportion were not aware of the availability of the library-delivered e-books or that any attempts to make them aware had not registered. One of the libraries participating attributed this partly to the lack of critical mass stating: “Proportionate to print holdings our e-book collections are tiny and students are not in the habit of looking for or using ebooks as alternatives or substitutes for print.” As covered elsewhere in this report, there was a feeling from some of the publishers and aggregators that even though the trials books were mostly available from the beginning of the new academic year, some students will have already made purchases of print titles based on reading lists and recommended reading supplied by lecturers.


Patterns of usage:

Although the focus of this report is on business models for library-delivered textbooks and not a study about how, when and where they are used, we have analysed the usage data provided and created profiles for the majority of the titles made available during the months of the trials. These are presented in a separate document accompanying this report. As well as indicating the extent of use, most of them also show the classic peaks that reflect usage at the beginning of study period and immediately prior to examinations. With exceptions, most of them also show that the actual numbers of students accounting for the usage is relatively low and that those who do access the text, appear to set-out with a clear chapter or section in mind. Furthermore it was not possible in all the trials to tell how many unique users accessed the textbooks. Some librarians indicated that they had expected usage levels to be higher. One librarian stated: “Disappointing, but not unexpected. It does take a little bit of time for individual resources to penetrate the consciousness of students – the 9

shortcut is to get an e-book specifically mentioned on a reading list or linked from a resources list in the Virtual Learning Environment, but as academics compile their reading lists over the summer and send them out before term starts, the trial started too late for this. If access was continued, I would expect usage to rise steadily, as lecturers tell students, and students tell each other. It can take up to 3 years for an electronic resource to become ‘embedded’, even now.” A further comment was that “hard science students in particular give the Library a wide berth if they can and hence might be unaware of the availability of the e-version of the textbook.”

7. STUDENT SURVEYS: An online survey designed to capture the behaviour and views of students at institutions participating in the trials was devised by the authors of the report with input from the librarians and publishers. Nine of the participating institutions made the online survey available. One institution opted to use printed versions of the same survey, although only one of these has been included in our summary due to the fact that the nature of the trial involving one of the books was fundamentally different. The surveys were made available in March 2010, the timing recommended by participating libraries. The overall level of response was disappointing, although participating librarians warned that survey fatigue could prove to be a barrier to a high response. Given the low level of response , caution must be observed when attempting to draw conclusions from the feedback and applying it beyond the scope of these trials. 183 responses were received from across the ten institutions, and the key findings are summarised below: -

Just over half (55%) of the respondents purchased their own print copy of the e-book featured in their trial


82% of those who purchased their own copy, chose to buy a brand new copy as opposed to a second hand one


Over half (55%) of respondents bought their copy from the campus bookshop, although this was strongly influenced by the fact that for the trial involving the custom textbook, the print copy could only be purchased from the campus bookshop. If this book is taken out of the equation, the proportion who purchased from the campus bookshop drops to 47%. In response to the same question, 29% of students indicated that they purchased the book from Amazon (38% if the custom textbook is not counted).


48% of respondents claimed not to be aware that an e-book version of the textbook was available free of charge from the library


Of those students who chose not to purchase their own print copy, 40% indicated that they used the printed library copy and 27% the e-version made available via the library



The amount of usage during the period of the trials was small, with 77% of students indicating that they accessed the e-version on less than five occasions


The amount of time spent accessing the e-version was low, with nearly 50% of respondents indicating that they spent less than 5 minutes, and in some cases considerably less, on each occasion. Only 10% of respondents printed from the e-book.


Whilst usage and time spent accessing the books in the trials was low, students generally experienced few problems in navigating their way around the e-book once they had retrieved it: 40% found it ‘easy’ and 52% ‘fairly easy’ to use.


37% of respondents accessed the library-delivered e-book from the library itself, a reflection of the fact that in many cases the library offers the most extensive cluster of PCs and some evidence, gleaned from elsewhere, that students often do not take their laptop onto campus with them.


Of those who indicated that they had not used the library e-version, 50% attributed this to lack of awareness whilst 43% responded that they generally don’t find e-books easy to use.


When asked, in general terms and based on their experiences with the e-book in the trial, what their preferences are regarding use of print and e-books, 49% indicated a preference for using a combination of print and e-version, with 44% indicating a preference for print, and only 7% for the e-version only

Students responding to the survey had the opportunity to add qualitative comments. When analysed, these fell into four distinct areas: Convenience:  “I think they are brilliant. They allow me to access a library without the awkwardness of travel, seating and lifting”  “This is a very good service for students. It is particularly useful when I am studying off campus and want to access certain books. I can read the relevant chapter of a book without purchasing the print copy”  “Prefer print copy, but it is inconvenient to bring the book with me every time. The e-book provides an opportunity to access textbooks where there are computers”  “I’m very excited this book is available, and will use e-books extensively now. I was thinking about purchasing an e-book reader recently too”

Ease of use/functionality: 11

 “e-books are much less easy to use than print copies – browsing and moving from page to page – the reader always resets the zoom and you have to click each page individually to a size you can actually read”  “I can write and comment or highlight on the print copy”  “In general, with most e-book access it is not possible to underline or highlight relevant stuff, but with paper copies it is possible to use pencil or marker if the book was bought”  “I think the idea of an e-book is great but often books like this are used as reference when writing assignments, having to download it over and over again every day deters me when I’ll most likely be using it for less than 10 minutes at a time, it makes me much less efficient”  “I like to highlight work and annotate. When I found I could only print out a limited amount, I had to buy the book so I could highlight that instead” (The points made above are specific to the use of eBooks via a library ie not owned by students. Purchased eBooks will of course often allow for highlighting, note taking etc)

 “I have not yet found an e-book that was easily accessible and they all seem dull to look at/read and hard to navigate”  “E-book version was too time consuming to navigate”

Different types of use:  “They work very well for honing in on particular sections of the book without needing to purchase the book in its entirety, which features many topics which will not be necessary for many students”  “I use the e-book when I don’t have my hard copy and just want to quickly check something”  “I find it difficult to read large chunks of information on screens so I like to read hard copies. But if I’m just looking something up, I’ll use the e-book”  “Prefer reading print, but it’s easier to find terms using an e-book”  “I find it easier and more pleasurable to read a hard copy, but easier to find and copy/summarise the bits I want from an e-book”  “e-books are good to scan and get quotes, paper is good to highlight and make notes on”  “Print copy is better for general use, but at times when you do not have it with you, the e-book is handy for reference”

Ergonomic issues/’comfort’  “Don’t like reading e-books; makes my eyes uncomfortable


 “I like to use e-books because it is easy to scroll through, or skip to particular chapters, however, reading off a computer for long periods of time tends to strain my eyes or give me headaches”  “Print copy is comfortable to read”  “E-books are hard to read”  “I discovered that the e-book was available after I bought a printed version. Anyway, I prefer to read the printed version, it is easier and it makes my eyes less tired”

Overall conclusions from the student survey: The relatively low level of awareness of the availability of the library-delivered e-book tends to validate the concerns expressed by librarians that the trials required a longer lead time in terms of communicating availability. Those students who used the library e-book did so for relatively short periods of time and found it relatively easy to use in terms of navigation. It is interesting to note however, the comments relating to the ‘comfort’ of reading e-books, which surprised a number of the publishers participating in the trials when they were shown these.. The overwhelming response was that print is still a necessity, particularly for annotating and marking text. (A number of publishers offer this facility in the e-versions, although it is clearly not yet obvious to many students) Students responding to the survey suggest that the print and the e-version are used in different ways and with different objectives in mind.

8. FEEDBACK ON THE TRIALS FROM THE PARTICIPATING LIBRARIANS AND AGGREGATORS: The comments below are based on feedback given by individual librarians and aggregators at the final, post-trials summary meeting and by emails during and after the trials. Because of the small numbers of textbooks and libraries in the trials, caution should be taken in drawing generalized conclusions across the industry. Librarians re-confirmed that the role of the lecturer is the key driver to how students behave and this will include decisions they make about textbooks. Whilst we cannot generalize on the basis of these relatively small scale trials, one of the participating librarians commented that the law lecturers at their institution seemed particularly well engaged with online content for the purposes of teaching, whereas physics lecturers were much less so: "This tends to feed into their

behaviour, with the more engaged lecturers often maintaining online reading lists with links to textbooks, whilst those who stick to printed lists don’t generate the same level of interest and activity in the e-versions.” Librarians indicated that some subjects have very few core textbooks associated with them and suggested that in these instances, students tend to purchase their own print copy. Where a subject has a much broader reading list however, students may not be able to purchase them all and will look instead to the library to meet their needs. Participating libraries employed a number of different methods to make students aware of the trials and the specific textbooks included: •

Records in the online catalogues 13

• • •

Availability to students of flyers – either at the Information Desk or from a dedicated web page giving details of how to collect a flyer. Contact with academic library representatives for respective subject areas. If appropriate, contact was also made with module course leaders Record entries in e-resources systems, and e-book systems

Some of the librarians who attended the post-trials workshop reported that it was not enough for students to simply come across details in catalogues. E-textbooks need to be promoted by lecturers in order to get best use. The comparatively small number of e-books available in the trialsmeans, in the view of the librarians, that they are not part of mainstream activity and workflow for students. The librarians also felt that students are still not overly enthused about e-books, for a wide variety of reasons, as can be seen in the results of the Student Survey above. Furthermore, a number of the librarians at the workshop also stated that any barriers in place that make it difficult to access e-books will prevent use by students. These include, for example, the need to register or sign-up to a particular service before it can be used, the need for students to make payments, the existence of DRM systems, and barriers that prevent printing. Although all parties participating in the trials made best efforts to ensure the books were available on the various platforms by the start of the new academic year, a number of the trial participants had gained the impression that some students may have already purchased their own copy of the textbook before they knew about the availability of the library e-version. Based on the above, a number of the librarians (and publishers) commented that a two year trial period may have been preferable if genuine trends and changes in behaviour were to be identified. Librarians reported that generally they had received little feedback from teaching staff about the trials. Examples of teaching staff comments included: • • •

“(E-books) are probably more useful for those books which students don't need to read in full, i.e. books they need for reference or single chapters for coursework etc, rather than textbooks.” “I think that having a core text available on line for students is brilliant. Some students genuinely have financial hardship and cannot afford the text” “We only have a limited number of equivalent print copies of these particular texts so potentially it was seen as beneficial for students on a variety of courses to have 24-7 online access.”

Overall, librarians believe that e-books are still new for students and that the scale is small. A further 3-5 years is likely to elapse before a critical mass of content is achieved. This is compounded by the fact that compared with the world of ejournals, technical developments like linking and standardisation across platforms have not yet happened with e-books and may only do so when a clear demand is identified. Links to the textbooks from some aggregators’ platforms may not allow direct access to individual chapters and others put a limit on the number of pages that can be printed. Librarians indicated that this appears to cause frustration for students and puts them off using the e-versions.


An aggregator stated that “It was a shame that none of the additional options on our platform (e.g. to purchase permanent download rights) were taken up. This may have been because students were simply unaware of the functions” A further aggregator felt that libraries were protecting their journals budgets, so in their experience numbers of books purchased by librarians had been decreasing. One librarian stated “The findings from this textbook trial and other related e-book experience to date has helped to inform discussion at an internal e-books ‘review meeting’. Further user education is needed to promote the use of ebooks to academics and students alike before we can move closer to a policy of preferring the purchase of e-books to print copies in the longer term.“ Some librarians commented that the most valuable role for JISC Collections in taking work forward in this area would be in seeking standardisation of licensing and issues around Digital Rights Management (DRM) which, in their view are issues currently holding back the more rapid migration to e-access.


Student purchases: Sales data was not available from publishers for 8 of the 24 textbooks. One publisher accounted for sales at five institutions and their internal reporting systems meant that it was not possible for them to provide data at the required level of granularity. Another publisher reported a percentage increase without providing the actual sales data. Of the 16 for which data was available, sales decreased in 2009/10 over 2008/9 in 10 cases and increased in 5 cases. In aggregate across all the trials, the numbers of copies sold to students by all the publishers had decreased by just over 6.5% between 2007-8 and 2009-10. The figures fore the individual titles are shown in the file that accompanies this report. In our landscape report in 2009, the publishers we had interviewed reported that overall revenue from print sales of textbooks was either static or increasing, but that in some cases unit sales were declining. It was suggested that a one year trial was simply too short a period to draw conclusions about the impact of e-versions on levels of purchases of print textbooks, and 3 to 5 years would be needed for this.

Whilst it has proved to be very difficult to find correlations and draw conclusions between the various pieces of data that have been gathered, two of the trials do provide us with some evidence to suggest that there is a link between publisher-lecturer-librarian-student engagement and communication and usage of the library-delivered e-book and its impact on publishers’ sales to students. Textbook B brought together a lecturer who was also one of the authors of the book itself, and clear communication from both the library and the publisher to the lecturer, about the availability of the e-book via the library. The e-book proved to be one of the most heavily used in the trials, especially at the beginning of the academic year. Publisher sales to students at this institution also recorded one of the largest declines, dropping by over 50% in 2009-10 compared with the previous year.


Textbook K is a custom book and the print copy is only available via the campus bookshop, meaning that tracking sales should be 100% accurate. Print sales declined by just over 16% (one of the highest across the trials) and the e-book was also one of the most highly used. Additionally, both the library and publisher invested time with the lecturer/author at the commencement of the trials. As regards the source of the data on student sales, publishers indicated that each campus bookseller provided them with details of their textbook sales and the assumption was that all these sales were to students at that institution. Growing numbers of textbook sales are now via Internet booksellers and generally only estimates of numbers can be made by each publisher. All publishers confirmed that Internet sales were increasing, with one stating that its Internet sales generally had been increasing by around 30% whilst sales via ‘bricks and mortar’ were decreasing by 10% or so. Some Internet sales of the books are also to overseas buyers. With regard to library loans of the trial textbooks, publishers queried whether users other than students borrowed the trial titles. Feedback from the librarians was that the loans were overwhelmingly to students, with a very small number of loans to non-student users, eg academic staff. Usage data: Usage data on textbooks is not an activity that publishers are generally involved in reviewing since textbooks have traditionally not been available online. Publishers were provided with aggregators’ usage data relating to the trials, but as we indicate elsewhere in this report, the nature of the data provided in the trials varied by aggregator and publishers had some difficulty in drawing meaningful assessments from the data. Publishers felt the usage data was of limited value, because of the variation in the reports from aggregators and were unsure which metrics libraries may be using to evaluate use of e-books? For this reason the publishers felt that any pricing model based on usage would prove difficult at this stage. Librarians are also increasingly looking at ways to assess ‘cost per use’, particularly for packages of e-books, based on usage reporting from suppliers. Booksellers: Publishers have a close relationship with bookshops in the field of print textbooks sales. Their representatives meet with campus booksellers at key times during the year to inform them of available texts and to seek orders for the coming term. Although bookshops did not feature in these trials as formal participants, their role was discussed at the post-trials publisher workshop. Some of the publishers indicated that there had been very little feedback from bookshops about the implications or effect of the trials, however it must be acknowledged that such feedback was not formally sought. One publisher recounted their experience, which had resulted in some disquiet being expressed by the local bookshop about the potential impact of the online version being available via the library, and ultimately a drop in sales. At the publisher workshop, some of the publishers present expressed the view that bookshops may face a challenge in carving out a new role in the world of e-books and will potentially need to go beyond the current print and digital bundles if they are to be successful in this. However the precise nature of how the future will unfold as yet remains unclear.


Following discussions with participants during the kick-off meetings, the basis of the trials was that publishers would not charge libraries for providing access to students during the life of the trials (between September 2009 and late May 2010), ie libraries would not be paying access charges during that period. At the beginning of the trials, publishers were asked to consider and propose for the librarians in their individual trials, a theoretical price they might charge for providing access to students via the library, for the year. This was on the basis that when the trials were finished, publishers would review that price in the light of what they had learned from the trials and make any changes. By that time, publishers would have seen any impact during the year of the availability of the e-book on their print sales, and also have reviewed data on the usage by students of the e-books themselves. Armed with this information, publishers would be able to consider potential business models to implement in future. In setting the theoretical price, it was made clear to publishers that there would be no obligation to utilise in practice the prices they had set, and to librarians that there would be no obligation to accept such prices going forward. As electronic versions of core textbooks have generally not been made available to libraries in the past, the publishers in the trials have not had the need traditionally to provide libraries with quotations for ‘site licence’ access to their textbooks. Proposing a theoretical price for the trial proved challenging therefore for some of them. At the end of the trials publishers were asked to review their suggested theoretical pricing and consider how they might modify it in the light of their findings from the trials. It was made clear that publishers would not be obliged to apply any revised model in a real situation and that this was simply an exercise to get a feel of the approaches publishers might adopt. The following are the brief ‘models’ that publishers proposed at the beginning of the trials:

 List price of the textbook, less a discount for e-only, multiplied by course student numbers, less a discount based on the size of enrolments.  List price of the textbook, multiplied by the number of print copies the library would generally acquire  A combination of numbers of print sales and library loans, and applying a ‘banding’ based on numbers of students  The list price of the textbook multiplied by 50% of course student numbers, less an overall discount (eg 20%)  The list price of the textbook, multiplied by numbers of course students, plus a % premium.  A simple fixed fee (eg £10), multiplied by numbers of course students  Pricing based on a mix of numbers of course students and the general size of the institution  Numbers of course students multiplied by the list price of the textbook, and applying 65% to the result (ie a 35% discount).

Although it is of limited value without a full explanation of the outline models described above, when calculations using these initial suggestions were undertaken, they resulted in a price range of between £1,425 - £19,000 per textbook per institution 17

As can be seen from the above, the dominant approach proposed by publishers was to use numbers of students on the relevant courses as the basis of their pricing. This is understandable as student numbers on a course and the extent of ‘sell through’ are key elements of sales of print textbooks. As already described, at the end of the trials and with the various data available to them, publishers were invited to revisit the model or specific pricing they had presented at the outset. The following are some of the comments that were made: •

“In light of the above findings we are unfortunately unable to draw any conclusions about the pricing model at this stage. …… there is insufficient evidence for us to put together a firm pricing model at this point in time.”

“With regard to pricing, our thoughts have not changed, the only thing I would like to add is that the annual subscription price would obviously change if we were to look at multiple concurrent usage, depending on the size & type of the institution. “

“ We would like to get feedback from the librarians on how they feel the trial has gone, what changes they think we would need to make to the product to make it a “better fit” with library use, and also hear from them what business models are the most attractive.

“The best we can come up with is to suggest a subscription model based on student numbers which implies differential pricing per institution. In this trial, we have granted unlimited access for 1 year only. We see the major risk as being that students may cease purchasing print copies altogether if the eBook is made available on an unlimited, free to access basis in the university library.”

General comments and feedback from publishers on the business models included: • • • • •

• •

The extent of investment that publishers are already making in online access to content whilst also having to offer print versions. The need to recognise the significant difference between pricing a textbook and a textbook with additional online content The suggestion that pricing be based on subject disciplines with ‘negotiation around the edges’ to allow for inclusions of all students at an institution Rather than just setting a price for one book, libraries could purchase a bulk number of ‘credits’ that could be used against any title offered by a publisher The issue was raised that perhaps publishers could set a price for offering access to core textbooks only at a small number of peak periods in the year, to enable libraries to meet students demands (eg at revision times). There was only a lukewarm response from publishers for such a model. It was pointed out that EBL and Dawson Books do offer short term lending Could textbooks be treated by librarians as serials (by their nature as annual requirements) and therefore be covered by serials budgets A possible model suggested by a publisher involved a library paying a lump sum deposit that allowed for content to be accessed from a range of textbooks from a publisher, with the cost of each access being deducted from the deposit. 18

• • • • • • •

In respect of the potential growth of mobile devices, some of the publishers felt that such devices could work for small chunks of learning content, but unlikely for whole textbooks. Specific textbooks Apps are likely to be developed and which could become popular. Generally publishers were uncomfortable with pricing models that allowed for unlimited access across a university There was relatively little interest generally from publishers in models that allowed for access just to chapters or parts of books If libraries simply wished to provide e-textbooks as a safety net for students, then simple flat PDFs may be sufficient, rather than a range of additional functionality. The model adopted between the library consortium OhioLink and CourseSmart was raised, in which discounted CourseSmart prices for textbooks for students were negotiated. Publishers expressed some interest in this model. A number of developments are taking place in North American that embrace curriculum and course systems. Learning Management Systems (LMS) are also growing and some publishers saw these as potential competitors. Section 13 of this report refers briefly to some of these developments. Pricing models based on advertising and open access textbook publishing, were not considered a threat …..yet.

Feedback from librarians and aggregators on business models and pricing: •

Unlike the trend in e-journal acquisitions over the last 15 years where the Big Deal model has prevailed, librarians in these trials were adamant that the purchasing of textbooks has to be on a title-by-title basis, otherwise many books would remain unused. One librarian substantiated this view by stating that they would be looking to cut one or more existing, general e-book packages, since usage indicates that it does not represent good value for money

Not every librarian expects to pay less for online textbooks than currently paid for print. They are willing to use the level of ‘historic’ print expenditure as the basis of pricing for e-access.

A trial of two years would have provided better information on how to price e-textbooks (usage data and more time for introducing students to online versions).

One librarian suggested a model based on usage with pricing set by allocating an institution to a band

A number of librarians indicated that pricing based on numbers of students on a particular course was not attractive to them. Access is required across all authorized users of an institution. In a print environment students are able to refer to any books held within the library, regardless of whether they feature on the reading list for a course or not and libraries do not stop a student borrowing a book purchased for a particular course, if the student is not on the course. If licensed access is restricted to a number of students on a particular course, it was suggested that it would be problematic to manage this.

A rental model was suggested in which access is given for just for short periods (revision times). However, this was not welcomed by a number of the librarians because consistency of access is needed; problems with cataloguing; students joining courses at different times during the year.

Models that involve an additional administrative burden (eg credits, lump sum deposits, short term rental) were also not welcomed by one librarian.

“People want to be able to access both formats (ie print and electronic) for different reasons, so Libraries would probably want to pay for both, perhaps balancing the cost by purchasing slightly fewer print copies.” 19

A further pricing suggestion was based on access only to chapters (already provided by some aggregators).

The majority of librarians who attended the post-trials workshop felt strongly that unlimited access would be required in any agreement with publishers, not least in order not to deter students from attempting to use eversions. One aggregator commented however that as there was no evidence of turnaways in the trials that they participated in, even though unlimited access was given, then pricing based on unlimited access might not be an essential requirement.

Perpetual access would not always be required, as new editions are regularly published.

A further suggestion was that the level of pricing set by a publisher could be reduced, based on setting limited concurrent use levels. One librarian commented that “ there might be room for negotiation here, if the price is right, and depending on the textbook, as long as it meant site licence access. This would need to be for more than a single user, perhaps with a tiered approach, so that libraries could decide on the number of concurrent users required.” Turnaway statistics would allow librarians to see whether the level of concurrent use would need to be increased.

Other comments from librarians included: o “..would like to see unlimited access for a cost based on JISC band. Realistically, what it would cost for 510 copies of the paperback print book would be about all our budgets could bear”; o “Most of the ‘in theory’ pricing suggestions made by publishers are not that transparent, and make ‘per title’ costs prohibitive for larger HE institutions, where FTEs are a factor in the calculation. We would not expect to buy a print copy of each textbook for every student so most of the models proposed would cost considerably more than we would expect to pay in total for multiple copies of print textbooks. “; o “Payment could either be a one-off cost for that particular edition, or for books that are regularly updated we would be happy to pay an annual subscription fee.”

Pricing models based on a combination of students continuing to purchase but with some institutional involvement /support, were considered. For example, publishers could offer libraries access to key titles on a limited basis, to provide a safety net or back-up for those students who could not afford to purchase print copies, or other reasons for non-availability of titles.

A UK HE consortium could potentially establish an agreement with a supplier such as CourseSmart, in which discounts are provided to students for e-textbook downloads, with possibly some central payment to the supplier.

Many of the librarians involved in the trials felt that students would continue to be the main purchasers, and are likely to be willing to purchase textbook material online. This could take place, for example, via the library catalogue or via easy-to-use and comparatively cheap mobile devices as they become ubiquitous. They suggested that publishers will increasingly need to adapt their offerings to meet the mobile device challenge, including greater standardisation as students would only consider moving if the pricing and usability were in line with their expectations, set more often than not by iTunes.


Trial 1


Aim of the trial: Assessing the sustainability of offering access to e-textbooks via aggregated platforms and/or publisher-specific platforms under a range of access models The trial involved 4 publishers, seven institutions and 10 textbooks. Access to e-textbooks was via two aggregators’ platforms and one publisher-platform. In general, publishers’ sales of their trial textbooks for the trial period dropped, apart from in respect of two of the textbooks where there was an increase, one of which was by 43%. The decreases in publisher sales were generally slight, but in two cases the decrease was considerable (70% and 51%). Library print purchases were down on previous years in nearly all cases and the main reason for this appear to be that librarians’ assessments were that purchases of copies of the title in previous years were sufficient for the trial period. Library loans rose in respect of most of the textbooks. For 3 titles, loans decreased. For the large majority of textbooks, the access to e-versions were small, apart from one title where accesses were very substantial. The reason for this was that the author of the title was also a lecturer at the university where the title was being trialled, who undertook significant promotion of the e-book to the course students. The access model used in Trial 1 was unlimited access for all titles apart from for three books made available by one of the publishers which was based on individual registration by each student. In terms of the ‘sustainability’ aspect of this trial from the publishers’ viewpoint, one publisher reported that it was difficult to draw firm conclusions about a decline in print sales to students based on their 3 trials: “we had an instance of increased print sales, one of decline and one neutral – also, year on year increase/decline in print sales can also depend on different enrolment numbers for the courses.” This publisher’s initial thoughts on the pricing model were to use a site price based on the price for an individual book with a discount for online version, multiplied by numbers of students on the course ands then a further discount. However, the publisher came up with an alternative model referred to as ‘etextbook Collections.’ The pricing for these collections would “no longer tied to student numbers, but rather based on the list print price of the book and the number of copies a library would generally have.” A further publisher in Trial 1 proposed pricing for library provision of the e-version using a set price per title, based on a mix of student sales and library loans, examples for 3 books being £1200, £900 and £500. At the end of the trial the publisher confirmed that the model still stood, but that these figures would be based on the lowest banding of FTE and would increase depending on the size of the course. A third publisher proposed a pricing model based on the retail price of the book multiplied by 50% of the number of students on the course and with a discount of 20% applied. The price as a result of this formula was in the range of £2500 to £3000. Based on the findings from the trial the publisher indicated that they would not generally change this model.

Trial 2: Aim of the trial: Libraries participating in offering students a range of access options. Participants in this trial were 2 publishers, 1 aggregator and 6 institutions. 21

For one of the participating publishers’ titles, students were able to access the e-version provided by the library in addition to the print copies in the library , and were also offered other options , via the selected aggregator’s platform, including: • • •

Purchase of a print copy of the book Purchase of an e version of the book Purchase of an e-chapter

In the case of the second publisher in this trial, the e-textbook was not provided by the library at all. Instead, students were directed to the publisher’s web site via a link in the library catalogue where they could purchase the book in print, as a complete e-version or e-chapters. In practice, although the options above were made available to students, almost no use was reported during the trials. This could be because students had already purchased their own copy or because it might be necessary for the library to undertake more significant promotional activity, given that students were being asked to spend money. In respect of a possible pricing model, one of the publishers in this trial indicated their charge, under a multiple concurrency arrangement, would depend on the numbers of students. Student numbers would be multiplied by the price of the printed version of the book and a mark-up applied to the result. This mark-up could be up to 125% or 250% depending on the extent of multiple concurrency. Following the trials, the publisher indicated that the model would not change, but the annual price would vary depending on the size and type of the institution.

Trial 3: Aim of the trial: What impact does offering e-access via libraries have on print sales of textbooks, and what do students want if they have a choice? The trial involved one publisher, one institution and one aggregator. The single Trial title involved was a customised textbook created for the university in the trial and was made available as an e-version for the first time as well as being available in print. Print copies of the title could be purchased by students from the campus bookshop. Loans of the library’s print copies of the trial title during the trial period were at around the same level as the previous year. Student purchases of the print textbook decreased in the trial period by around 16%. Use of the e-versions was relatively high compared with other books across the trials. At the commencement of the trial the publisher proposed a ‘theoretical price’ for library provision of the e-version, based on a fixed amount per student , ie the total fee to the library would be the fixed amount, multiplied by the numbers of students on the course. At the end of the trial, the publisher indicated that based on the drop in sales of print copies to students, the fixed amount per student would need to be raised to a higher level to make the model satisfactory from their point of view.

Trial 4: Aim of the trial: Does making online access available through libraries improve sell-through of existing adoptions? 22

Trial 4 involved two publishers, two aggregators, four institutions and 4 titles. The main aim of this trial was to see whether making the e-textbook available by the library would lead to a greater number of students on the course buying the print copy. In the case of one of the books the publisher’s sales to students decreased in the trial period by 13% over the previous year. For a further book the sales had increased by 33% compared with the previous year Student sales for a further title decreased to zero in the trial period. With this particular title, the library loans also dropped substantially and there was minimal access to the e-version.

12. POTENTIAL PRICING MODELS FOR LIBRARY-DELIVERED E-TEXTBOOKS DEVISED BY THE AUTHORS OF THIS REPORT Based on the findings from the trials, both in terms of the data and feedback from participants, the following are potential models for library-delivered e-textbooks put forward by the authors of this report: A. e-Textbook provision by libraries: These are models in which the library plays a major, or increasingly higher role, in providing digital textbooks for students. Students would still have the option to buy print versions, varying by the extent of provision by the library and personal choice 1.Enrolment model: The basis of the model is the number of students enrolled on the relevant course, multiplied by the price of the print version of the textbook, with discounts relating to the scale of enrollment and to the extent to which a library has converted to eBooks. Pricing to vary also depending on the extent of limited concurrent user access 2. Enrolment download model: As Option 1, with the additional option of student downloading the full digital version, at a discounted price. 3. Safety net model: As Option 1, but with the option by the library to extend access rapidly if required at key times of the year, based on a known pricing multiplier, to cover those peak demand periods. (the format of the book could, for example, be flat PDF files as opposed to a more enhanced version) 4. Seasonal model: Availability of the digital version of the textbook, only for agreed key periods during the year, eg exam and revision times. Publisher pricing based on a limited number of copies of the e-textbook and on limited concurrent use. Students continue to purchase their own print copies. 5. Multi-title historical spend model: Pricing based on the current expenditure by the library on print versions of a set of required textbook titles from a publisher, with an agreed price markup. Students continue to purchase own print versions if required. Option for ‘extra’ copies of the titles to be purchased at an agreed price if usage reaches an agreed level. Limited concurrent access basis 6. ‘Textbook Choice’ model: A model based on the library paying an agreed upfront amount that allows for users to access content within a range of different e-textbooks from a publisher, with each session drawing on the prepaid deposit 7. Institutional e-book loans: Loans of e-books or e-book chapters to institutions or students. Librarians may have some concerns about administrative or budgetary issues if the loans are to libraries. 23

B. Institutional support for student purchasing: Indications are that publishers will increasingly offer options for students to access digital textbook content via mobile devices. Purchases by students of print textbooks will continue, but are likely to decline gradually as the functionality within these digital versions improves and availability increases, and students increasingly choose this option. Student purchasing, albeit of digital versions, may then continue to be the dominant model, particularly in the light of reduced library budgets, with less need for libraries to seek a role in library provision of digital textbooks. However, there may be opportunities for institutions (universities themselves or library consortia), to provide support to students in provision of digital textbooks content, particularly where expectations by students are increasingly that universities should provide access, and if student fees increase significantly. For example, a consortium could seek to negotiate with suppliers (aggregators or publishers themselves) preferential pricing for digitals downloads (eg full textbooks or chapters) for its students, based on the numbers of students across the member institutions of a consortium. The ability to obtain the discount is in return for the potential sales by suppliers to many thousands of students. A possible variation to such a model could be some level of funding provided to the supplier by the consortium, in return for greater discounts. A further variation of this might be where faculties and departments at universities increasingly strike agreements with publishers for their students, both in respect of textbook delivery for students via mobile devices and also for the growing number of web-based integrated content/ learning management systems. The position of the library might at that point be that they see no role for them in student textbook provision.

13. THE VIABILITY OF LARGE SCALE LIBRARY PROVISION OF E-TEXTBOOKS: Library funding is the key issue in considering the potential for library provision of e-textbooks. The current textbook model is based almost wholly on student purchases and therefore any move to switch to E- textbooks, provided by libraries, would require a massive increase in library funding, bearing in mind that the current scale of student purchasing in the UK amounts to some £220m a year. This problem has now been magnified as a result of the economic recession. The higher education sector is required to achieve savings of £200 million as part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ share of the Government’s £6.2 billion of in-year savings in 2010-11 across Government. Budgets of university libraries are being cut as part of this exercise. One librarian reported that a senior university manager apparently asked the library to ‘sweat their assets’ rather than spending money on new content in the current economic environment, whilst another librarian reported the Vice Chancellor as stating the library should give-up acquiring print books in favour of e-versions. Looking ahead, librarians participating in the trials reported that money for e-textbooks would simply not be available and certainly not at the levels proposed by most of the publishers in their theoretical pricing models. There would appear to be almost no possibilities therefore of libraries taking on the additional financial commitment to provide e-textbooks in the near future and a number of publishers see little opportunity for library involvement in this area. Traditionally, of course, in most academic institutions round the world, the library has not played the leading role anyway in textbook provision. It should be borne in mind that any increase in student fees resulting from Lord Browne's independent review of student funding may lead to pressure being put on libraries to provide access to e-textbooks. One librarian commented however 24

that any extra income received by its university from increased fees would almost certainly be spent on laboratories and equipment and not textbooks for students. Some publishers recognise that the current model will begin to change as new developments in the delivery of digital textbook and course content evolve further. Institutions (universities and colleges) may increasingly become the purchasers of services and platforms that provide a combination of learning management tools and course content, and suitable business models will be needed that address the provisions of publishers’ textbook content in such services.

14. DEVELOPMENTS IN DIGITAL COURSE MATERIAL AND LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS (LMS): Textbook publishers are actively involved in developing and launching services based on the provision of digital textbook content, both for students and teaching staff. The increasing adoption of these new services may result in the longer term in the decline of print textbooks as they are currently known. In May this year, Outsell Inc published a report on ‘The Future of the Textbook Marketplace’ which gives a very useful analysis of these developments, the publishers and suppliers involved and Outsell’s views on the timing of adoption of digital services. In Outsell’s opinion, by 2020 the textbook market will be nearly unrecognisable from the way it looks today, but indicating that that there is a long way to go before they displace long-established print offerings – in December 2008, Outsell found that 87% of information end-users (across a variety of markets) preferred to access textbook content in print rather than electronic formats As textbooks have moved into the digital world, a variety of digital textbook types has emerged, and Outsell presents these as: •

Hybrid textbooks: Print textbooks containing a CD-ROM insert with associated digital support material;

Digital textbooks: Replicas of print textbooks in a variety of digital e-book formats;

Enhanced digital textbooks: Often delivered online as well as in e-book formats, these products offer additional tools and content above a straight replica of the print textbook. They can also offer customisation options;

Proprietary publisher solutions: Online teaching and learning environments that integrate the digital textbook with the most resources to fit a variety of learning styles, including assessment and audio and visual resources.

Outsell reports that change has been, and will continue to be, relatively slow in this market because of factors such as “the inherent conservatism of educators and the relatively low degree of centralised purchasing.” The company estimates that the digital textbook market will grow at around 25% compound annual growth rate to 2012, while the print textbook market will decline by 1% over this period. One indicator that Outsell states may be useful in “predicting the way in which digital textbook offerings may evolve is the increasing importance of proprietary publisher offerings such as WileyPlus, Pearson’s MyLab series, and McGraw-Hill Connect. For example, Pearson’s MyLab series of text-specific online products accompanies Pearson Education textbooks for a variety of courses. Each MyLab product provides a set of course materials to accompany the textbook, along with course-management tools (powered by CourseCompass) so that educators can customize their online courses. Pearson provides students with pre-paid access when they purchase a new, participating textbook. A further challenge could come from proprietary teaching and learning environments such as WileyPLUS, which could come to replace e-textbooks that simply mirror a print edition.” Source: Outsell Inc, 25

Recent announcements from Blackboard, the VLE supplier, provide indications of a trend towards increasing integration of learning management systems and digital content. Blackboard and McGraw-Hill Higher Education announced a business partnership in June that links McGraw-Hill's content, assessment engines, and learning tools with Blackboard's Web-based teaching and learning platform, Blackboard Learn. Through the partnership, the companies will make McGraw-Hill's content and digital tools available to institutions that are already using Blackboard Learn, to provide workflow and access to resources in one place. Blackboard states that this is the first time the company has enabled the full integration of a major publisher's content and digital tools. In the same month, Blackboard also reported a partnership with Barnes & Noble, the book supplier and operator of college bookstores, to enable higher education students to access and use interactive e-textbooks. The aim is to allow students to access and purchase e-textbooks and other course related materials directly in Blackboard Learn. Teaching staff will also be able to assign content from Barnes & Noble's catalogue of over one million titles, including e-books, etextbooks, relevant study aids, test prep guides, periodicals, and other trade and professional titles. The partnership would also create greater interoperability between Blackboard Learn and Barnes & Noble’s NOOKstudy, a free digital reader software application that has customizable study features. In July, CourseSmart, the digital course materials provider, announced the launch of a new service in the US for universities and colleges, which provides teaching staff with access to e-Textbook formats “of more than 90% of the most popular textbooks.” CourseSmart's ‘Faculty Instant Access Program’ allows authorised faculty members to have immediate access to a library of digital content while connected to an institution's Learning Management System or Campus Portal. The service enables them to find out about, access, evaluate, and use complete e-textbooks and other digital learning resources from leading publishers.

15. RECOMMENDATIONS: It has proved to be very difficult to draw meaningful conclusions from these trials and therefore the process of making worthwhile recommendations is equally challenging. On the one hand, we find it unrealistic to justify a recommendation proposing that the current model of student purchasing of textbooks be replaced by library provision of e-textbooks, in the light of the financial scale of this market (and hence the impact on library budgets), and the fact that the current model generally ‘works’. On the other hand, there is evidence that libraries are facing some levels of demand from students for library provision of digital versions of core textbooks. Compounding the problem is that the UK academic community is bracing itself for severe cuts in funding which will filter through to library budgets and limit their room for manoeuvre in this area. A further unknown is the medium and longer term impact of the impending review of student tuition fees, and whether or not institutions make available course materials to students in return for higher fees. Whilst most of the participating librarians and publishers who attended the post-trials workshops agreed that student purchase is likely to remain the dominant model for the foreseeable future, they did differ in their attitude to levels of access to e-textbooks, with librarians preferring to maintain the principle of universal access that is currently offered by having a print copy available in the library. Some publishers are prepared to offer this, but at a price. Whilst publishers would consider providing a more limited level of access (and one of the participating aggregators felt this should be explored more fully) based on numbers of students on a given course, librarians are generally not in favour of this approach. The authors of this report believe that amore granular approach to access (smaller chunks of content or availability for shorter periods) is an area worthy of further exploration, but , for different reasons, may not universally appeal to 26

publishers and librarians without some compromises being agreed.We cannot recommend therefore that librarians seek to move at this point in time to a position in which libraries attempt to provide substantial numbers of e-textbooks for student needs. Nor are we recommending preferred options from the list of suggested pricing models we have given in this report or that further funding be allocated by JISC Collections for exploring models in more detail. However, we do make the following recommendations below that we believe will have potential benefits for the players involved in textbook provision. 1. Those librarians wishing to replace their library print copies of core textbooks with digital versions should take steps to hold discussions directly with relevant publishers, to enable both parties to explore possible pricing arrangements that are mutually satisfactory. Agreements may be achievable that allow publishers to maintain income levels through a combination of student sales and library fees, and expenditure by libraries to be acceptable through, for example, some level of limited concurrent usage. At the library workshop, it was suggested that these discussions could also be at a consortium level where this is exists, and where appropriate, eg SHEDL in Scotland. 2. In line with one of the recommendations in our earlier Landscape Report, we recommend that JISC Collections, or another appropriate body, establishes contact with CourseSmart to determine the extent to which they are now (or planning to be) operating in the UK and whether a UK-wide agreement for discounted student purchases via CourseSmart could be brokered in return for a level of marketing and promotion and a central portal through to the CourseSmart site. This would require dialogue also with relevant publishers. 3 In evaluating journals usage, full text article downloads has become the key metric used by librarians and publishers. In respect of e-books usage a similar common metric has not become dominant. Aggregators in the trials were able to provide usage statistics, which appeared to be more comprehensive than the COUNTER reporting they are obliged to follow if compliant with the code of practice. However there were variations in the nature and detail of the statistics between the aggregators, and the statistics provided did not always include key information, for example in some instances the number of unique users could not be identified. This meant that a number of the publishers felt that the data was inconclusive and did not provide sufficient information, making it difficult for them to draw conclusions from the figures. It is the view of the authors that more work could be done ideally under the auspices of COUNTER, , to ensure that comprehensive, easily interpreted and consistent usage data is available to both librarians and publishers in line with what has been achieved in the journals arena, especially if any business models emerge based wholly or partially on usage. 4. The recently published report by Outsell on the future of the e-textbook market highlights the extent to which publishers are developing their textbook offerings to include a whole new world of online learning tools for students and teaching staff which are designed to be integrated with content in universities’ VLEs. If, in addition to these developments, publishers follow the money as a result of departments making certain course materials available to students as part of their tuition fees, the technical and commercial elements may conspire to remove the library from this loop. Whilst on one hand, it will ease the pressure on squeezed resources budgets in the library, on the other, libraries could cease to become meaningful players in this area and lose touch with developments. We recommend that JISC Collections or another appropriate body maintains a watching brief on the evolving relationships between publishers and VLE providers and their impact on the library. 5.. It is widely predicted that mobile devices and applications will have a significant bearing on the way students access content, including e-textbooks and supplementary online learning materials. Libraries also need to keep abreast of 27

developments in this area and the role they may wish to play in delivering textbook content via such devices. One of the libraries participating in the trials, for example, reported that they had carried out a project during 2009/2010 on mobile/portable devices and one conclusion was that they did not wish to go down the route of lending out e-book readers with downloaded texts, as this involved significant DRM/copyright issues. In the view of the authors a similar watching brief is required therefore in this area both by JISC Collections and individual libraries, to ensure libraries are fully informed and in a position to decide on their strategy, based on a full awareness of developments and their implications. In the light of the potential speed of growth of these developments it is recommended that JISC Collections considers whether research should be undertaken in this area, with the aim of providing guidance and support to libraries.


APPENDIX 1: Participating organisations and the textbooks in the trials: Institutions: • • • • • • • • • •

The University of Northampton UCL University of Bath University of Birmingham University of Greenwich University of Leicester University of Newcastle Upon Tyne University of St Andrews University of Surrey University of the West of England

Publishers: • • • • • • • •

Cambridge University Press Cengage Learning McGraw-Hill Oxford University Press Palgrave Macmillan Pearson Education SAGE Wiley-Blackwell

Aggregators • • •

Dawson EBL MyiLibrary

A total of 17 textbooks featured in the trials covering the following subject disciplines: • • • • • •

Business and Management Chemistry Economics International Relations Law Medicine 29

• • •

Physics Politics Psychology


JISC Collections e-textbook business models study final report 2011  

The final report from the e-textbook busines models study that trialled four different business models with UK HE institutions

JISC Collections e-textbook business models study final report 2011  

The final report from the e-textbook busines models study that trialled four different business models with UK HE institutions