March 26, 2012
LexisNexis Is Going to Win the First Round in Providing a Circulation Solution for Commercial Law eBooks
Back in September 2011, I opined that Thomson Reuters was going to win the second round in the Law eBook slugfest because it was the first major publisher to come to market with an enhanced law eBook format. Other than downloading two laughable free ProView titles, I've been too damn scared to buy even the least expensive ProView title I could find because I couldn't buy it without agreeing to accept it on a "good 'til cancelled" license. Oh, well, I will muster up the courage eventually to see if the embedded linkages in an acquired ProView title are as haphazardly "selected" as the ones in the two freebie offerings. Of course, I won't be able to see if the links actually work because I do not subscribe to WestlawNext.
Since that post, Lexis has started bringing to market enhanced law eBooks. The embedded links were more consistent throughout the two free titles I tested. [Sample downloads here.} The links send you to Classic Lexis (login required) and to my surprise the links sent me to database resources outside of my in-plan only Lexis license. Frankly, I'm not sure if that was the case because the titles I tested were freebies or is a feature of purchased enhanced eBooks from Lexis but access was based on my Lexis user account.
So far it looks to me that TR Legal has more enhanced law eBooks in the marketplace but Lexis is beginning to catch up. However, beware of using Lexis’ bookstore site listings. For the moment, at least, there is no way to distinguish enhanced editions from unenhanced eBook editions. Enhanced editions will more likely have a 2012 publication date but it is wise to check with your p- and e-book account rep for confirmation unless it does not matter which form of eBook you are buying. For me, it matters. I see no point in buying any eBook that does not start to take advantage of the eBook publication form as a platform for enhancement.
Circulation Solutions. In terms of lending enhanced law eBooks, I will note that when I took a look-see on TR Legal’s eCommerce site, I found that I could “add West user accounts” for purchasing a ProView eBook but again I was too scared to do so. Was I buying one "good 'til cancelled" eBook license accessible to every damn West user account I added or was I buying multiple licenses? What was the cost? The only thing I knew for certain was that this option was not clearly indicated as being for circulation purposes. When a company has a reputation for maximizing its opportunity to guarantee its revenue stream in no small part because the investment community focuses on “recurring revenue,” and the Company is allowing any user of a OnePass account to purchase materials on its eCommerce site that will appear on an institutional buyer's billing statement without making any attempt to confirm with that institution that the OnePass holder has the authority to make purchases, there is absolutely no reason to trust that vendor.
Oh well, I won’t be a buyer of ProView titles for my user population until I have no choice but to license WestlawNext instead of Classic Westlaw. Alternatively I may switch over my Westlaw users to Lexis-Lexis Advance. Clearly enhanced eBooks and the ability to circulate them will be an important factor in any future collection development decisions for all legal resources. As time marches on, there is no doubt in my mind that enhanced Law ebooks from our major vendors will cannibalize database selections in online search license plans whether by way on a reduction in out-of-plan resources or even in-plan resources. Perhaps, I should say "may cannibalize" because of possible bundling and tie-in requirements.
In a matter of great concern to all institutional buyers who have been thinking about the law eBook phenomenon, Lexis announced with very little fanfare last Friday that it has launched an eBook circulation solution powered by Overdrive. In addition to providing a means for lending its eBooks, the platform includes circulation controls and collection development usage tools that libraries can use "to eliminate title duplication and quantify savings for firm management." This is exactly the opposite tactic TR Legal is using to sell ProView titles. Remember the legal publishing industry adage – “do the opposite of whatever the folks in the Land of 10,000 invoices eBook Licenses is doing.”
No doubt, both companies recognize that their enhanced eBook offerings will cut into their pBook sales. Why buy X number of office copies and y number of library copies of a title in print and/or in eBook formats if you can reduce both of those numbers some by buying Z number of eBook titles that circulate. Only one company right now is willing to work with institutional buyers to provide a sensible solution in the commercial market space. That’s why LexisNexis is going to win the first round in the eBook lending solution slugfest.
In the context of circulation options for commercial law eBooks, we currently have only one choice. See Introducing LexisNexis Digital Library... for some information about this service. The web announcement does not (yet) answers many of the questions institutional buyers will have but it is a start in the right direction for the user populations of most institutional buyers. Details to follow. [JH]
Thank you for your research on this issue. In Sacramento, CA last Monday, I watched a L_N salesman pitch the "Discovery products"/eBooks.
It was my understanding that they are still beta testing which business model they are going to run with. One is that public law libraries may get a discount on eBook Readers, but not on content. I piped up and said, Well that's interesting. You expect the law librarians to train users how to use the product to build PR for it so you can gain market edge and not give us a cut? I heard a lot of MmmHmmms.
At Public Law Libraries, we take whomever comes in the door regardless of level of literacy, computer skills, mental disorders. We do a lot of extra training and counseling. Our revenue streams are getting hit at both ends: More fee waivers are being filed and Superior Court services for Access to Justice to pro se's is being cut back [thus more traffic at the LL]. We should get help to keep us out of the red or reducing services by selling their products IMHO.
Posted by: Kathleen OConnor | Mar 26, 2012 11:08:42 AM