Shared Purchases Committee
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This spring, members of the WYLD Shared Purchases Committee attended webinars with five eBook vendors in our efforts to investigate downloadable eBook services. Based on our review, the committee has decided that there is currently not a viable option for statewide license. However, many vendors, including Baker & Taylor, Ingram, and EBSCO/NetLibrary, are currently developing library eBook platforms for scheduled release this summer. We think that several months down the road, we will have many more options.

In general, here are some of the commonalities we found.

Here is a brief review of the products we assessed. Please see this comparison chart for more detailed notes.

For public libraries that need a downloadable eBook product right now, this may be the only option. OverDrive is currently unsurpassed in terms of bestseller content and works with most devices. Unfortunately, OverDrive will not offer us a statewide site. Instead, public, academic, and school libraries would all have to purchase separate sites with separate, title-by-title selected content. Because our state and federal funds must be used to purchase content that can be used by everyone in the state, OverDrive is not an option for us as at this time. Perhaps if the public libraries pool funds and create a process to select titles, they might opt to purchase a public library group site. However, be aware that OverDrive charges a significant annual platform fee and you don't ever truly own the content outright.

Blio/Axis 360 (B&T's upcoming product)
Blio is currently available as a free eReader download. Baker & Taylor is developing a library circulation model to work with Blio, called Axis 360. Blio can display both text and images, so it works well with picture books too. It currently works on most smart phones and iPads, but unfortunately not Nooks or Sony readers. Our group was impressed with the platform and given that B&T already has a long history of working with both publishers and libraries, we think that Axis 360 holds promise.

The merged EBSCO/NetLibrary platform is in development and downloads work on a variety of devices. Although EBSCO says that they are working to acquire popular content that will rival OverDrive, they have not released anything yet. They are also planning to provide a variety of purchasing models: title-by-title, collections, subscriptions, and patron-driven-acquisition. Their eBook platform is currently available for preview through the Netlibrary website and news about more content and licensing models will be released at ALA in June [2011].

Ebrary offers primarily academic and non-fiction content that is currently only viewable online. They admit that they are not trying to compete with, but instead complement OverDrive. They are developing an off-line downloadable option and say that 70% of their publishers have agreed to multi-user downloads. They offer title-by-title purchase or subscription models. Their content is viewable on any web-enabled device, but they do not have a mobile site yet, so viewing on a smart phone may not be ideal.

Similar to ebrary, Follett eBooks are currently only viewable online. Follett's primary focus is on K-12, including many picture books. They do not offer a download option yet, but like many other vendors, they are working toward this. Follett offers title-by-title selection as well as some K-12 eBook bundles. Also, Follett's is a true ownership model with no annual access fees and no minimum ordering requirements.

And finally, Ingram is also planning a library eBook product, but it is not developed enough to be ready for our review. Our committee will continue to monitor eBook products and we welcome your questions and comments at any time.

Maggie Swanger
WYLD Shared Purchases Committee Chair
Laramie County Community College
mswanger @ lccc.wy.edu


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