November 28, 2012
Becoming Mini Me to Doctor Evil: Some law librarians may start WFT-ing (oops, I probably meant WTF-ing!) when they receive the "great news" accompanying shipments of Lexis pBooks "with eBook"
I have 60-plus copies of Anderson's (read Lexis) Ohio Criminal Law Handbook on standing order. Our little county law library keeps two on our shelves. We pay for all of them (pricing discounted because of the number of copies) but the rest are directly shipped across the entire county to government stakeholders (judges and public sector attorneys). Recently I looked at the packing slip for the 2012-2 edition. It read "Anderson's 2012-2 Ohio Criminal Law Handbook with eBook". Ah, OK. "With eBook" doesn't cost anything more than without eBook. Download the "Great news!" Dear Customer letter. It explains that companion CDs, clearly a tech dead end, have been replaced with free eBooks. Such a deal.
Of course when one realizes that many of my recipients do not have Lexis user accounts, won't know the difference between the two eBook formats available, wouldn't know how to install the eBook reading app on the desktop, and probably won't know how or won't take the time to learn how to use the app's functions without training, one has to give LN's corporate decider-ers credit for becoming the Mini Me to Doctor Evil.
There was no advance notice that this was coming and no opt-out choice in what is clearly a stunt to unsolicitedly expose Lexis pBook subscribers to the Lexis eBook format. My hunch is Anderson's 2012-2 Ohio Criminal Law Handbook isn't the only title being shipped on standing order with an enhanced eBook "free." It certainly is not the only Lexis pBook that comes (or came) with a CD.
So imagine the consequences of mid-sized and large law firms receiving shipments of some LN titles "with eBook" in much larger numbers whether or not law firm librarians want that at this early stage of the enhanced Law eBook era. According to Bess Reynold's The Challenges of E-Books in Law Firm Libraries many are not interested right now for a number of very good reasons. Well, institutional buyer disinterest be damn. Lexis is pushing out titles to end users in what I guess is a trial run to generate end user interest. When willingness to pay for Law eBooks is low, Plan B for Lexis appears to be to give some eBooks away for free for now.
"Free" however is not free. I, for one, will have to explain the following:
- how to install the Lexis eReading app on desktops if the individual's desktop is hardware and software compatable (more likely I will have to travel across the county to do it myself);
- that click-thru may not be available without a Lexis user account;
- I, the invoice-paying guy who is supposed to coordinate purchasing of these materials, had no say in this matter; and
- most likely when "with eBook" is no longer "free" the Board I report to for acquisition approvals for government stakeholders may not approve the additional expense for "personal" copies of Lexis eBooks even if the end user gives up his or her pBook copy because we may go the eLending route to save costs instead.
Just like TR Legal's ProView eBooks are tied to WLN, Lexis eBooks are tied to the Company's search platform. So exposing Lexis eBooks to non-Lexis users mimics TR Legal's strategy to increase search platform adoption rates by way of end user frustration. Meanwhile our little county law library has a couple of Ohio Criminal Law Handbooks "with eBooks" but not one eBook edition is available via the Lexis enterprise eLending solution unless I want to pay for that.
Frankly, I don't even know if this is the first Lexis pBook "with eBook" title we have received. While I check every damn TR Legal pBook title we receive, I used to have more trust in Lexis pBook deliveries. Now, well this is strike two in about a month or so. Strike one is here.
Do note: Standalone purchases of the 2012-2 edition title apparently come "with eBook" at no additional cost on the Lexis eCommerce site. [JH]