Selling to libraries—the new e-book aggregation options

We learned a lot about libraries at this meeting, in “Parent, Press, Library” and in this session most notably, with “Plenary 3: Debating the Humanities” close behind. We are seeing more and more that they are under the same strain to minimize costs while trying to remain relevant to scholars (in a nation whose commitment to the humanities is flagging and wherein adequate budgets are long, long gone—never to return), and we are beginning to understand that in this brave new world that hasn’t many people in it they have far less latitude than we. We have and can explore many customer pools/revenue streams; the libraries being but one of them. For libraries, on the other hand, the university in which they live is the entire world. I.e., while we have friends with shotguns and cellphones nearby, their options for relief from the wolf at the door may be more limited.

Fred Nachbaur showed us the light to start the session, referring us to the Chronicle article by Leila W. Salisbury "Five Things That University Presses Should Know About Working With Libraries," identifying it as a must read for the session topic. Salisbury’s article makes good sense of libraries’ in situ thinking for us. Might want to upgrade it to a vital read, if you haven’t read it already.

APO, JSTOR, UPCC, and UPSO: all fine examples of collaborative entrepreneurship from university presses (and JSTOR). Slides and speakers smartly covered salient attributes of each, and most of the slides read well on their own; it would be worth looking through the slides after reading the article.

Collections Librarian Michael Levine-Clark helped us see these new options from our target market’s perspective: We need to be on all platforms possible, these and others, lest we be left out; libraries are only going to sign up for one or two; we want to be on whichever ones they choose. Libraries want perpetual access to come of these experiments, which may raise some e-rights issues via term limits; part of the current rights discussions. & PDA is coming (read, here) and may limit the revenue potential for subscription models, calling for “per-use” sales. Translation: had experiments been conducted many years ago, books may have been in line for a reflectively long and steep revenue bump as garnered by journals; PDA and other trends may lessen the bump.

Hands down, one of the most succinct and thorough sessions I attended; slides and speakers were on point, a fine comparative overview of the programs was served up, and contextual elements were brought into view via the Q&A and recommended reading. It was a fine window onto how these experiments are proceeding, inspiration for continuing to improve and capitalize on collaborative entrepreneurship.

Maybe in time we can gather our friends with shotguns and cellphones to ride to the rescue for libraries and presses alike.