European e-lending and American projects

I gave a presentation at Internet Librarian in October, on the situation regarding e-lending across Europe, focussing on Britain.  You can see my presentation on Slideshare.

I came across some sources of really useful information as a result and want to highlight them here.

Firstly, there’s a really great overview of the global ebook market, produced annually by Rudiger Wischenbart Content and Consulting.  It’s really good for putting our own book industry in context.

Next, if you want to know what public libraries across Europe are doing in terms of ebook lending, a good source of information is the NAPLE blog.  NAPLE is the National Association of Public Libraries in Europe, and there’s quite a few articles on there about public library e-lending in a variety of countries.

At the conference, I learnt that there are now five projects in the US which are developing platforms for public libraries to host and lend ebooks:

Evoke – the one that started it all off.  It consists of a number of organisations headed by Douglas County Libraries, and has relationships with around 500 publishers.

The Marmot Library Network in Colorado implemented the Douglas County model for a range of libraries.

Enki launched in 2013 and is delivered by the Califa Library Group, headed by Contra Costa County Libraries, using the Douglas County model.

Amigos is a new project with a range of partners across Texas.

Library Simplified is another new project, ten public library systems led by the New York Public Library.

All five projects represent an alternative.  All five are working on the principle that public libraries have power and reach, can decide for themselves what content to make available rather than depending on aggregators, and can develop huge audiences for new authors, whether mainstream or self-published.

Finally (and thanks to Vincent Bonnet of EBLIDA for bringing this to my attention), Civic Agenda EU has this month produced A Review of Public Library E-lending Models, which is well worth a read.











E-book and e-audio survey, 2014

Photo of a pile of books and an ereaderYou may recall Andrew Coburn from Essex put a message on lis-pub-ebooks earlier this year asking for information from other authorities, so that Essex could benchmark their e-lending service.  He’s kindly given us permission to replicate his survey summary, and here it is.

(Picture:  CC Melenita2012)


Essex Libraries were early adopters of e-books – we subscribed to OverDrive in early 2004 and other suppliers soon after. We got into e-audio quickly too and at one point had three suppliers for each of e-books and e-audio. However our offer had grown ‘like Topsy’. It meant that customers had to get used to different ways of accessing and using stock from different suppliers and remember which was which.

However for Essex, like all public authorities, the improvements in e-offers and budget considerations made us review our e-offer at the end of 2013. Part of the consideration was to ask how much use we get for how much money. While we can get figures for our own service, we had no idea if these are typical. We wanted to benchmark provision against other authorities and so sent out the survey. The survey went out in late May on lis-pub-ebooks and lis-pub-libs.

30 authorities (including Essex) responded. One did not have e-books and four did not have e-audio. One had only recently gone live but I encouraged them to complete the survey for their comments.


In use

Of e-audio suppliers OneClick Digital was the most used (62% of e-audio respondents.) For e-books OverDrive was most used (55% e-books and also 49% e-audio). Askews & Holts showed a reasonable customer base and, as one respondent pointed out, they have the all-Wales consortium though only two responses were received from that group. Bolinda/ Borrowbox are beginning to build a customer base – they were the only other supplier mentioned more than once.

Ulverscroft, Peters and Public Library Online (Bloomsbury) were also listed.

Zinio and Press Display were also mentioned but fall outside the area in which we were interested.

Additional comments.

Two authorities have recently stopped using one or more suppliers – focusing their provision more specifically.

Six authorities were looking at new suppliers- either in addition to current provision or as their first step. Interestingly OverDrive and Askews & Holts were not mentioned in this context.

E-Books – spending and use

Two thirds of respondents spent up to 3% of their total book budget. Of the rest there were two (7%) spending 11- 15%. The others are between those levels.

Two thirds of authorities reported loans of up to 1% of total book loans on e-books. The remainder report 2-3%.

E-Audio– spending and use

There is a wider spread on spend. 11 authorities (38%) are only spending up to 3% but the others are spread over the other 4 levels offered. 6 (17%) spend the equivalent of over 16% of their Spoken Word budget on E-Audio.

Issue percentages are also varied from up to 1% (10 authorities or 34%) to 6% plus (another 11 – 10%) with the balance between those two figures.

Access mechanisms

Most (if not all – it’s not quite clear from the responses) provide separate access through the library website. About half load records to their main catalogue which link to the e-supplier sites and slightly more have a separate e-book/ e-audio catalogue (also linking through to the supplier sites.) This implies that some offer access through the main catalogue but have a separate e-book/ e-audio catalogue as well.

In the additional comments box there seemed to be some enthusiasm for having records in the main library catalogue but not everyone is there yet. In some cases, issues with LMS were mentioned, but others were not specific as to the problem. At least a couple of authorities cite the need to have a dummy item attached to the catalogue record to make it display on the OPAC – a cumbersome process.

Other comments

E-books/E-audio are felt to be popular amongst users and there was enthusiasm to be able to expand whatever offer is already there, but pressure on budgets is preventing this in some cases as well as issues such as problems of integration with catalogue and LMS.

Frustration with the range of content available was expressed by a couple of people.

There was one plea for a national e-book/ e-audio offer. Nobody explicitly mentioned Sieghart’s e-books review or the pilot projects resulting from it.

The benefits of sharing provision in consortia such as the All-Wales one (and at least one other) were also mentioned.


The Survey was useful for Essex in that we can see where stand by comparison with other authorities. We have carried on with our review and made some radical changes this year – we are now down to just two suppliers. This means we have simplified the offer to customers for the present and intend to devise a longer term strategy in early 2015 with a view to trying to ensure that the money is there for the next and future financial years.


“Let Libraries Lend E-books” – an update on e-book campaigning and EU copyright reform

Building on the European Bureau of Library Information and Documentation Association’s (EBLIDA) “E-books in libraries campaign”, which ran between 2012 and 2013, “The Right to E-read” campaign is aimed at raising awareness amongst the general public, librarians and policy makers about the difficulties libraries, especially public libraries, are currently facing with regard to acquiring and lending e-books.  Led by EBLIDA – and branded in the UK as “Let Libraries Lend E-books” – the campaign is also calling for changes to the EU’s copyright framework, because the difference in treatment of printed and e-books stems from copyright law.  Earlier this year I gave an overview of this legal position and the campaign to reform it (click here).  Below is an update of activities and developments since that blog was posted.

E-reading Day
The focal point of the campaign so far has been the E-reading Day on 23 April, the UN’s World Book and Copyright Day. Many national professional associations, including CILIP, marked the day by issuing a press release highlighting the challenges public libraries are facing.  With the help of Shelf Free members Helen Leech, Gary Green and Jon Scown we were able to include new statistics on e-book lending – of the 50 most borrowed print books from libraries in February 2014, 45 have been published in e-book format but only 3 of these have been made available to libraries.  Click here for the press release, which includes links to infographics illustrating the current situation.

E-lending Petition
April 23rd also saw the launch of a European-wide petition calling for changes to copyright law so public libraries have the same right to lend e-books as they do printed books.  At the time of writing this petition has almost 15,000 signatories.  It is still open and we urge you to add your signature.

EBLIDA’s Right to E‐read Position Paper
In May EBLIDA published its revised position paper on e-book acquisition and lending and made two overarching recommendations:

Firstly, “Mandatory Fair Licensing” to ensure that each and every e-lending model fully accommodates libraries’ missions and needs by:

•    Including licence terms and conditions that do not undermine statutory exceptions and limitations to copyright law permitted within the EU or its Member States.
•    Making compulsory the removal of technological protection measures for all legitimate uses.
•    Preventing publishers from refusing to sell digital content to libraries, imposing or limiting which titles they may acquire, or making any prohibition on library e-lending.
•    Ensuring that e-books and other digital content is offered to libraries at reasonable prices.
•    Mandating that licence terms and conditions support libraries’ missions and activities.
•    Guaranteeing that licences follow EBLIDA’s key principles on the acquisition and access to e-books

However, EBLIDA does not believe that licensing initiatives alone are enough to ensure freedom of access to knowledge through our libraries.   They also recommend that the European Copyright Acquis be updated to ensure that:

•    Provisions are introduced into copyright law to prevent contract terms from undermining statutory exceptions and limitations permitted within the EU or its Member States
•    The removal of technological protection measures is made compulsory for all legitimate uses.
•    Libraries are granted a ‘right to acquire’ any work legitimately made available to the public (including the right to acquire digital files) so that transfer of ownership takes place and the principle of exhaustion applies.
•    A new mandatory exception is introduced granting libraries the ‘right to lend’ (including ‘e-lend’ remotely) any work in any format.

Download the Right to E-read Position Paper

EU review of copyright rules
In December last year the EU launched a consultation in an effort to gather views on how to modernise the existing EU copyright framework.  The consultation spanned 80 questions and covered a broad spectrum of copyright law, looking at areas where copyright inhibits cross-border provision and the functioning of the (Digital) Single Market.  There were a series of questions on e-book lending and in March EBLIDA, LACA (the Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance, which is convened by CILIP) and Shelf Free submitted evidence of the problems currently being faced and called for an exception to copyright law to allow libraries to purchase e-books for lending, and also for the EU to confirm whether the principle of exhaustion applies to sales of digital materials (for an explanation of the principle of exhaustion please see my previous post).

The consultation attracted 11,117 responses and will inform a European Commission (EC) White Paper examining whether and how further action on the current system of rights, their licensing and exercise, the exceptions to rights and their enforcement is warranted at EU level.  The official White Paper is not expected until the autumn, but a leaked draft suggests the EC is taking a cautious approach to reform, including e-lending.  The draft states that “policy initiatives on the exhaustion principle would seem premature at this stage” and that “further observation of how licensing models and technologies evolve” is necessary, as well as “extensive assessment of the consequences that initiatives in this area could have on digital markets”  (p7).  We’ll have to wait until September to find out if the official version is more ambitious.

What next for the EBLIDA campaign?
•    At a European Level the main emphasis is currently on getting people to sign the petition. The EBLIDA Executive Committee will be meeting in Brussels in late October and intends to present the petition to the EU Commission.
•    CILIP has plans to lobby members of the devolved parliaments/assemblies on the issues in September and will also lobby the new UK MEPs later in the year.   We are also exploring possibilities of lobbying relevant local Councillors (Leaders of Council, Cultural Services portfolio holders etc).
•    The EU Copyright White Paper, when published, will form another focus for campaigning.

Updates will be posted on this blog and on the CILIP website.

A Day trip to the Paris Book Fair

When I was invited by the French Ministry of Culture to speak at the Paris Book Fair, I thought for all of two seconds before agreeing; I did French language and literature at A level and am a complete Francophile, so it really was a no-brainer.

I was asked to be on a panel with a German and a French librarian, talking about our experience of eBooks and my involvement through Shelf Free, in the discussions between UK publishers and public libraries around eBook lending. Libraries across the world are having problems persuading publishers to give them rights to loan eBooks, and only a small percentage of the most popular authors can currently be loaned in any country. In some ways, the UK is better off, as many libraries were able to establish eBook collections before the problems with supply started; some European countries were later establishing eBook lending and can have very small collections as a result.

The initial invitation seemed tenuous, there was a lot for them to organise, and I convinced myself that it wouldn’t come together in time, so the only preparation I really did was to send my passport off for renewal. Then suddenly, with ten days to go, the train was booked, the speakers were booked and I was in the programme!

Now I had to prepare – here are some issues you might want to consider when you are speaking at a conference in a different country, where English is a second language:

  • Powerpoint – I prepared a presentation, then lost confidence in it. After all, “Death by Powerpoint” is all too common, but if I kept it in English, the audience might struggle. If I translated it into French, there might be some grammatical howlers and the audience could be laughing so hard they couldn’t hear me! I abandoned the idea.
  • Translating my talk into French – I considered asking the organisers to translate my talk into “proper French”, knowing I could deliver it quite fluently, but then I would be reading from a script, and I risked sounding completely wooden. Worse still, there would be no opportunity to adlib, which is how I do most of my talks. I abandoned that idea too
  • Interpreters –so, this left me planning my talk in English, thinking about the speed the interpreters could work at, and explaining any UK library specific jargon that would throw them.
  • Cultural issues –do Parisians have the same sense of humour? British humour is very dry; mine especially, so I knew I would have to be prepared to change things on the spot if the talk failed to hit the mark.

That was just the talk. To be honest, I was more worried about getting there and back than delivering the talk itself. I’ve passed through Paris, but never visited it properly, so trains, the Metro and the streets were all new to me.

So, Monday 24th March found me at St Pancras International at 7am, waiting for the Eurostar train. By 11.30am I was stepping off the train at Gare du Nord, in good time for my talk at 2pm. I even had time to stop off briefly at Notre Dame (considered a selfie to prove I was there!) and got a breath of fresh air before descending to the Metro again for Porte de Versailles, the stop for the Paris Expo.

The whole area was mobbed with people, and there were actually ticket touts selling passes for the Paris Book Fair; it was like being outside a One Direction concert! The London Book Fair is always busy, but this was amazing, not just publishers, librarians and booksellers, lots and lots of ordinary people too. The French have always been a nation of readers, and the Book Fair proved to me that this still holds true.

Then came my one stumbling block – getting in. My instructions had told me which door to go in, but this had changed over the weekend, and every door I went to had burly bouncers refusing to let me in! For thirty minutes I went from door to door, without a pass and only my schoolgirl French, being told the equivalent of “you’re not on the list”. My mobile phone refused to work when I tried to call the organiser, and for a while I had the horrible vision of having to turn round and come home again, having failed to make my entrance! Eventually, a young French receptionist took pity on me and got me through the doors.

Finding the right stall in a venue as big as the NEC was the next challenge, but eventually I was sat down with a glorious French lunch that I didn’t have time to eat – a tray full of pâté, meats, cheese, salad, pasta and cheesecake, complete with glass of wine of course. All I had time for was a chunk of bread and cheese, a sip of water and on stage we went!

The chair kicked off with an introduction in French, which he had given me in English, so that I could nod in the right places. Then the German librarian, Andrea Krieg, spoke. She was speaking in English, and using PowerPoint, which convinced me that I’d made the right choice, as two PowerPoint’s would have been overwhelming. Andrea was from the State Library of Karlsruhe and she covered their eBook lending model, which looked similar to ours, but sat within their library catalogue (ours is a separate platform). She demonstrated their downloading process, and talked about the EBLIDA’s right to E-read campaign, which Shelf Free is supporting.

Next, my turn, and I spoke about the issues we had had in the UK with a lack of eBooks to buy, and how the market was changing with the use of smartphones and tablets (most of our downloads are “mobile” these days). The interpreter was fast, about three seconds behind me, going by the nods and laughter, and there were lots of people scribbling notes as I spoke, so I think I was providing useful information. I counted about 120 people either sat or stood at the back, listening, with more passing by the stall, so a good audience.

The French speaker, Annie Brigant, came from the Municipal Library of Grenoble, where they are part of a pilot project creating a dedicated digital platform, with bookseller and publisher partnerships. The project is looking to create a single platform that all parties are happy to work with, so that no “aggregator” or library supplier is needed. I hope I have represented Annie’s project well; I had to put on headphones to listen to the translation, as her speed of delivery was too fast for me to keep up in French, but again the translation was good, and it sounded like a project we should all watch.

By the time we moved on to Q and A, the simultaneous translation all felt quite natural, and I only answered the wrong question once, having tried to beat the translator – one of the perils of having “a little bit of language” is your brain tries to translate, even when you try to stop it!

It was almost two hours in total on the stage, and most of the audience sat still for all that time – I was really impressed with their interest and enthusiasm. At the end, I managed to meet up as planned with Alan Inouye, Director for the Office for Information Technology Policy from the American Librarian Association, so you never know; I might get an invite there one day!

It was all a whirlwind of a day. The only bits of the book fair I saw were those I passed as I dashed in, looking for the right stall, and those I passed as I flew out, desperate not to miss my train home. Next time I would definitely stay overnight, so I could network more and just take it all in.

I caught the Eurostar back at 6pm, and was back in Luton at 8.30pm, dazed and shattered, but pleased to have managed the day and met some interesting people. I feel like I’ve made some useful contacts, and thanks to social media like Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook, I’ll be able to keep track of some of the work our European colleagues are doing.

Fiona Marriott

Strategy and Development Manager

Luton Libraries

Facebook: Luton Libraries

Twitter @lutonbookworm

To find out more about EBLIDA’s right to E-read campaign, click on the link:‐read-statement.html

The Right to E-Read

Did you know that, unlike with printed books, libraries do not have a right to lend e-books?   And did you know that, unlike with printed books, only a small number of e-book titles are made available to libraries?   Most people do not know this, and are astonished to find out.  Libraries should have a right to e-lend because everyone deserves the right to e-read.  EBLIDA, the European Bureau of Library Information and Documentation Associations, agrees and has launched a Right to E-Read campaign.

Why are printed books and ebooks treated differently?

The difference in treatment of printed and e-books stems from copyright law, where lending constitutes a subgroup under the category of “distribution”. The rights holder has exclusive control over whether to publish or not, but after the first sale the distribution right is exhausted. This is known as the “first-sale doctrine” or “exhaustion doctrine”. Once exhausted, the rights holder, often publishers, cannot control subsequent lending or re-sale of the physical object. As a consequence, the library decides what books to buy and use for lending and how long to keep the books for.  And it’s not just libraries that rely on this right of exhaustion, it underpins the secondhand book trade too.  Without it, if you wanted to sell your unwanted books to your local bookshop, or offer them for sale on Amazon, you’d need permission from the publisher first.

In their interpretation of European copyright law publishers and some legal scholars claim that e-books are “communicated to the public” rather than distributed, that communication to the public is a “service” and the exhaustion doctrine does not apply to services. As a result the library can only acquire an e-book by entering into a contract with the rights holders and rights holders are free to decide whether they want to give access to a specific work, and to decide on the terms of such access. This means that the library cannot loan e-books without permission.  It also means that libraries are tied into long-term subscriptions to aggregator services to prevent e-book titles being lost. And it’s not just library e-books that are acquired under licence.  Did you know that when you “buy” an e-book, you aren’t “buying” it in the traditional sense, you are actually buying a right to access it with terms and conditions attached?    Although there are challenges to this interpretation in the European courts, the position may take years to resolve.

Why does this matter?

Libraries have to rely on publishers being willing to grant them licences to lend e-books, but some are refusing to do so, or are demanding unacceptably high prices and terms. Research conducted in February 2013 by Shelf Free found that 85% of ebooks were not available to public libraries.   Out of the top 50 most borrowed adult fiction books of 2012, only 7 were made available by publishers for libraries to e-lend – and even then it depended on which supplier the library service was signed up to. With one supplier, only two titles were available.  Public libraries promote literacy and foster a passion for reading and so, as e-lending looks likely to become a major form of lending, they must be able to provide a wide range of digital content to the communities they serve.  Not to cater for the increasing demand for e-books will turn libraries into museums of the book.

Why are publishers withholding titles?

Some trade publishers view e-lending as a threat to their business, arguing that if people can borrow an e-book, why would they buy one?  We agree that publishers are entitled to a reasonable return on their investment and we understand why some are cautious of digital distribution.  However, rather than damaging sales, available research shows that libraries enhance sales and are important customers for publishers.  A 2011 study reports that 50% of all library users in the USA report purchasing books by an author they were introduced to in the library, for example.

The ongoing e-lending pilots, initiated as a result of the Sieghart Independent Review on E-lending, will enhance our understanding of the dynamics of e-lending, including the impact on the e-book market, and are very welcome. However, they are predicated on a licensing solution which will leave the power with publishers. This threatens the mission of public libraries to provide access to knowledge and works of the imagination, and gives publishers undue influence over the collection development policy of library services.

A right to e-read?

What is required is a change to European copyright law to enable libraries to purchase and lend e-books. This is at the heart of the European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Association’s (Eblida – Right to E-read campaign, which was launched in May last year.  The campaign focuses on:

  • Raising awareness in the professional library and information community, so that they become advocates of change
  • Alerting politicians and members of the public to the situation, so that they support such change
  • Directly lobbying the EU for this change.

The focal point of the campaign is an E-reading Day on 23 April, the UN’s World Book and Copyright Day. The aim is that all national professional associations should issue a press release on the Right to E-Read campaign and, if possible, organise events on the day.

Shelf Free and CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, are getting behind this campaign.  We are calling for a fairer copyright framework that enables libraries to lend and at the same time provides reasonable remuneration for publishers and authors – both Shelf Free and CILIP are supporting authors in their campaign to extend Public Lending Right to e-books loaned by libraries remotely, which also requires a change to EU copyright law.

If you want to become an advocate for change so that everyone has a right to enjoy and benefit from the e-books provided by libraries, please get behind the Right to E-read campaign.  The EU Commission has announced a review of copyright law this year, so the time to campaign for these changes is now.  Supporting material and further information is on the CILIP website at:

Yvonne Morris, Policy Officer, CILIP: The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals

The Magic of Libraries: an animated blockbuster

We love this! The Magic of Libraries video from Time to Read has had nearly 3000 views in less than a week. What an inspiring way to celebrate National Libraries Day 2014.

As well as being a beautiful piece of animation by Emily & Anne, the video contains eleven book references. Some are more obvious than others and I can only find four. Luckily for us Time to Read NW will reveal all the answers via Twitter – one a day at 4pm, for the next ten days.

Find out more about Time to Read, the North West Libraries Reader Development Partnership.