January 12, 2011
Academic Presses To Offer eBook Collections to Libraries
JSTOR sent a longish press release out yesterday announcing plans to publish books online at JSTOR. Current and back catalog titles from Yale, Princeton, and the Universities of Chicago, Minnesota, and North Carolina will be part of the initial offering. Articles from Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education note that three additional content aggregators are entering the fray as well. These are Project Muse, The University Press eBook Consortium (UPeC) headed by New York University Press, and the University Press Scholarship Online which is an expansion of Oxford Scholarship Online. The stories note that these consortiums are not exclusive sources for individual academic presses, and that the numbers of titles offered will be significant. All good news, but the devil is in the details that are not yet available.
Inquiring minds want to know how much this would cost; what are the restrictions on use; whether there are digital rights management associated with electronic format; what kinds of devices can titles be used upon; and a host of other use and implementation questions. Many university library systems subscribe to JSTOR and Muse already for journals. We have some ideas on presentation. eBooks, as marketed by non-academic commercial publishers, come with significant restrictions consistent with renting information. Academic publishing may be aimed at a different market with different sensibilities, but they are commercial operations nonetheless. My experience with some of the eBook aggregators out there (I'm talking to you, NetLibrary) suggest a certain paranoia on their part that end users might actually want to view and use the content they provide.
So, as someone who would consider the collection development impact of such a move, I would want to know what titles are in overlapping collections so I can decide which aggregation to purchase, if at all. Considering the same question from a reference perspective, what is the interface going to look like, how searchable will the database be, and whether I can use Google Scholar or other external tools to get at the content. And, faculty will want to know how this will affect course packs and the ability to assign readings. While I'm thrilled at the development, I'm wary of the implementation, at least until I see the product and how it is valued. A press release brimming with optimism isn't enough. [MG]
Legal publications are undoubtedly expensive. But the costs are depreciated. Ordinarily, a law library would not depreciate a legal publication because of its historical value. However, the market pressures that print resources face from electronic resources compel such depreciation. Additionally, the LSMT publishers see pricing as a reaction to an every-shrinking market. They are not wrong in this regard. There is an argument price is not the best valuation of a legal periodical. A library must also consider the availability, accessibility, and quality of a particular resource to its users.
Posted by: Cory Lenz | Jan 22, 2011 6:46:19 PM