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Policy Department, September 2012

Ebook lending by public libraries

What are ebooks? An ebook is content that is made available electronically for reference or reading on any device that includes a screen. Ebooks are usually downloaded to a hand held device (such as a Kindle or ipad). The value of ebook sales in the UK was estimated at 92 million in 2011. This is a 366% increase on the previous year1. Growth in ebook consumption is being driven by older readers, particularly those aged 45-54. Just over a quarter of this age group bought an ebook in the six months to March 2012.2 Do public libraries lend ebooks? Yes, many of them do. In July 2012 CILIP undertook desk based research to get up-to-date information. Our audit of library authority websites found that approximately 142 library authorities in the UK are now either lending ebooks or planning to introduce this service before the end of the year. 3 How do libraries purchase ebooks to lend? Ebooks are acquired by entering into a licence agreement. There are many different suppliers of ebooks to libraries. As well as making arrangements directly with publishers, libraries can approach vendors that sell ebooks on behalf of publishers and can also use aggregators. Aggregators license content from publishers and sell directly to libraries, hosting the ebooks on their own platform rather than the publishers website. What is the publishers view on libraries lending ebooks? Some trade publishers have serious concerns about ebook public library lending and view it as a threat to their business, arguing that if people can borrow an ebook, why would they buy one? Many are concerned that lending ebooks may lead to pirate copies being made. Some take the view that public libraries should only lend ebooks if the download to a reading device takes place on the library premises, not through a remote online service. This replicates the use pattern for a printonpaper library and is known as friction. Other examples of friction include: One ebook available to one user at a time

Publishers Association Statistics Yearbook, 2011 Bowker, May 2012. Understanding the Digital Consumer 3 For a more detailed breakdown see CILIP, 2012. Ebook acquisition and lending briefing, p8

Policy Department, September 2012

One ebook can be issued a maximum of 26 times (equal to the number of loans before a print book is worn out) Only for registered library users (living in the community or registered as students or teachers of a university) Download to an ereading device, only on the library premises (i.e. no remote online service) Holdback period after publication

What are the main issues and challenges facing public libraries and their users? Implications for collection development, management and circulation

A range of practices and policies that were under the exclusive control of the library are now a matter of negotiation with publishers and/or distributors. For the first time the ability to acquire commercially published books for library collections is constrained. The supplier decides what is in a subscription package. The result is that the library may not be able to present to its users the most popular titles or the most specialized literature on a subject. Elending is a service and therefore requires authorization by the rights holder. There is no unconditional lending right. The right to interlibrary loan an ebook requires both negotiated license conditions and a technical capability that many libraries do not have access to. Not all contracts offer perpetual access to ebooks. After a certain time, titles could be deleted from a database by the supplier. Technical issues

There is a diverse range of ebook platforms and standards in the market that are often not compatible, user friendly or accessible. You cannot borrow UK public library ebooks on a Kindle, the most popular ereader. A national ebook lending service?

Do we need over 200 public library authorities managing ebook acquisitions and lending or could it be done by national and regional consortia or even just one UK agency? . Threat to the principle of free access to reading Charging for ebooks could be seen as starting to charge for core public library provision. Section 8.3 of the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act states that no authorisation shall be given for charges for the borrowing of written material providing "the material is lent in a form in which it is readable without the use of any electronic or other apparatus". Clearly this is not true for ebooks which do need a device to read them and therefore a charge can be made for them with no upper limit being stipulated in the Library Charges Regulations (1991). This brings into question the librarys role in ensuring freedom of access to information for all.

Policy Department, September 2012

Competition from alternative providers

Public libraries will be in competition with alternative providers such as Afictionado, who plan to launch a UK subscription lending (i.e. rental) service in 20124. Amazon has already launched an e-book lending service for Kindle in the US, although it is working with libraries. Public Lending Right

Public Lending Right (PLR) is the right for authors to receive payment under PLR legislation for the loans of their books by public libraries. Section 43 of the Digital Economy Act 2010 extends PLR to audiobooks and ebooks lent out from public library premises (N.B. a physical visit to the library is required). This has not been implemented, however. Alternative formats for the print disabled

Ebooks offer the greatest potential to increase access to books by blind and partially sighted people. However, restrictions on re-formatting text can impede access. Logging in using screen readers and magnification software, and navigating online catalogues and selecting titles to download can also be difficult. Value Added Tax (VAT)

Printed books and journals are exempt from VAT, but electronic resources are not. Possible solutions Evidence that library users also purchase ebooks

Evidence that library ebook borrowers also buy ebooks could help to allay some of the publishers concerns. The Pew Internet Report concluded that the majority of readers of ebooks (61%) prefer to purchase their own copies rather than borrow them. The study also contained data showing that libraries and librarians are a prominent source (21%) for owners of ereading devices to get recommendations for reading materials5. A 2011 study by Library Journal and Bowker PubTrack Consumer reports that 50% of all library users in the USA report purchasing books by an author they were introduced to in the library. 6 Hampshire Libraries is taking part in a pilot with Overdrive that has set up online links to booksellers websites. Evidence about levels of piracy

Ebook suppliers wrap their ebooks in robust digital rights management (DRM) software, meaning the file expires after the loan period. There is no evidence of library loaned items being stripped of DRM and loaded on file sharing websites.7
4 5

Reported in The Bookseller, 14 September 2011 The rise of e-reading, April 2012 6

Policy Department, September 2012

Licensing solutions8

In the present situation when libraries face many different licensing models there is a need to develop agreements with publishers organizations on standardized licensing terms, which would enable libraries to make available on reasonable and fair conditions to their users all works published in electronic formats chosen by the library. EBLIDA is exploring the idea of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federation of European Publishers on Fair Licensing Models (see below). Accessible ebooks

The RNIBs recent leaflet "Can everyone read your books?" links to guidance for libraries, publishers and booksellers and highlights accessible ebooks: Next steps On September 26th 2012 Culture Minister Ed Vaizey announced an independent review of ebook lending in England. For more information see: The Society of Chief Librarians E-Book Group, which has over 100 public library authority members, is involved in discussions with publishers about how to develop an ebook marketplace that works for all stakeholders. EBLIDA is launching an ebook campaign ( . The campaign suggests: o an updating of the copyright regime for ebooks, e-lending and e-content in order to enable libraries to continue to perform their services for all European citizens o a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federation of European Publishers on Fair Licensing Models as part of their ebooks campaign In November 2011 The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) began formal deliberations on a Treaty Proposal on Limitations and Exceptions for Libraries and Archives (TLIB). A number of TLIB clauses if incorporated in an international WIPO treaty have the potential to influence ebook licence agreements. See: The American Library Association is currently negotiating with individual publishers in an effort to convince them to provide affordable e-books to libraries.

Further information A longer briefing, setting out more of the legal, strategic and technical problems that arise from the addition of both scholarly and trade ebooks to public and academic and research library collections, together with possible solutions, is available on the CILIP website at

Taken from Edwards, S., and Leech, H., 2012. Library e-book lending fears myth or reality? I [accessed 20 September 2012] 8 Taken from von Hielmcrone, H, 2012. IFLA E-Lending Background Paper [accessed 25 August 2012]