September 19, 2012
Beckman Center Report on eBooks and eLending in Libraries
O'Brien, Gasser and Palfrey prepared a briefing document entitled E-Books in Libraries (July 1, 2012) [SSRN] for a library eLending workshop. Here's an excerpt from the abstract:
Beginning with a brief overview of the history and the current state of the e-book publishing market, the document traces the structure of the licensing practices and business models used by distributors to make e-books available in libraries, and identifies select challenges facing libraries and publishers. Where possible, we have made an effort to incorporate stakeholder perspectives and real-world examples to connect analysis to the actual questions, issues, and challenges that arise in practice. The document concludes with a number of informative resources – including news articles, whitepapers, stakeholder and trade association reports, and other online sources – that might inform future conversations, investigations, pilot projects, and best practices in this space.
The topics presented in this briefing come at an important moment for the publishing industry, and in particular the e-book market, both of which have been rapidly evolving over the last several years. These changes are, in turn, affecting the models used by publishers’ horizontal and vertical business partners, such as libraries and distributors. While we have endeavored to provide accurate information within this document, the dynamic flux of the industry can make it difficult to accurately capture a comprehensive snapshot of its current state. For instance, during the course of our initial research we found that some information published as recently as September 2011 had already become outdated; other salient information is not made publicly available for competitive reasons. Please note that we consider this to be a working document, which we hope to develop further as information changes and the issues evolve.
Highly recommended. [JH]
August 13, 2012
Snake Oil Pitches from the Land of 10,000 Invoices: Playing "Guess the Title" for TR Legal's format switcheroos
Remember when we received official word via a "Dear Colleagues" letter about the 450 unidentified titles that met TR Legal's format switheroo critera? "[P]rint products that exist in one- or two-volume sets, and are updated only once or twice annually, are good candidates for conversion to pamphlet." Lately, I've been playing "quess the title" with the few remaining TR Legal "loose-leaf" secondary legal works in our little county law library collection. The one-volume Consulting Agreements Deskbook loose-leaf was just switched to pamphlet. According to the "Dear Valued Subscriber" letter [Download the full text of the generic letter, if you want], annotated:
There are several benefits that you, as a customer, will see in moving to the pamphlet format, First, it is easier to locate materials in pamphlets, as opposed to loose-leaf binders. You will no longer need to flip back and forth between the main content and the supplement to verify whether the material you are reading is current. [Ed. note: That's because part of the supplementation was nothing more than a pocket part that was three-hole punched for insertation at the end of the volume.] Similarly, it is easier to keep pamphlets up-to-date. Simply replace your existing pamphlet with the latest version. You no longer need to worry about filing or inserting new chapters and supplements into a binder. [Ed. note: OMG yes. Oh wait, we aren't talking about filing loose-leaf pages CCH-style. Filing a chunck of "new" chapter pages and the three-hole punched pocket-parts isn't something to really, really worry about.] Lastly, pamphlets are more convenient to carry and take up less shelf space than most loose-leaf binders. [Ed. note: And when you kill your standing order to "buy new" in print in a couple of years, you won't have to check how out-of-date it is because the year will be displayed on the cover and/or spine. Of course, should someone try to license the ProView edition via OnePassYourAss and then you cancel the library e-lending unfriendly ProView edition because authorization of that purchase wasn't verified by the folks in the Land of 10,000 Invoices Licenses, then "valued customers" or "dear colleagues" will be screwed.]
So ... in the game of Guess the Title. I got the Consulting Agreements Deskbook right and now I will kill my standing order for it. But I guessed wrong about the two-volume loose-leaf set of O'Neal's Close Corporations and LLCs: Law and Practice this update merry-go-round. Not only did we receive the usual itty-bitty supplementation pages, we also received new binders as replacements for the existing binders! What does that say about the snake oil pitches from TR Legal's format switheroo-ers?
Oh well, my hunch is that after TR Legal's "valued subscribers" file all the existing content plus the wafer-thin current supplementation pages into the new binders, they will receive in TR Legal's format merry-go-round a generic pamphlet switheroo letter for O'Neal's Close Corporations and LLCs when it has been scheduled for ProView-ing. Hopefully the folks in the Land of 10,000 Invoices will speed up production because my hurry-up defense is to kill my standing order after receiving the title in its first year-stamped "new ed." pamphlet format.
One, two, one, two, three, four. "Heard trouble come to your town" so step right up for snake oil because "it's been around a long, long time." [JH]
July 13, 2012
"Friday Fun": The Pre-Sentencing Hearing for the Librarian Judged Obsolete: Something to think about while visiting exhibits at AALL Boston 2012.
|Screen capture taken on June 30, 2012.|
After publication of The Advance of the “No Touch” Sales Model: On obsolescence in the vendor-buyer "partnership" on June 26, 2012, which included a video excerpt from the Twilight Zone's 1961 Obsolete Man episode, several LLB readers asked me to post the earlier portion of the episode that contained the court scene for the librarian who was judged obsolete and ultimately sentenced to death. One email requestor, who asked for anonymity for reasons that should be obvious to all, thought it would be approprate to do so because of AALL's website promotion for visiting the exhibit hall. "Talking to booth bunny experts, really?"
Considering the topic addressed in the "No Touch" sales model post, I concur with the requests for posting the below video. It's categorized as a "Friday Fun" post to recognize that at least one uber vendor's strategic objective is clearly striving to make law librarians, also known as well-informed buyer reps, obsolete by following the Amazon model for eCommerce "no touch" retail sales to the individual consumer under its OnePassYourAss billing scheme. [JH]
June 26, 2012
The Advance of the “No Touch” Sales Model: On obsolescence in the vendor-buyer "partnership"
Every major legal publisher has an eCommerce site for purchasing products. We routinely see this in the advertising spam that fills our email boxes with “Deals of the Day” and time-sensitive discount codes for executing multiple purchases via vendor websites. This is called “no touch” sales. By “no touch” is meant the automated processing of sales transactions – no labor cost expensive human interaction required on the vendor side of this “partnership.”. Just “click” to make the purchase and input the necessary billing data. (Don't be surprised if billing data is automatically filled in the online order form some day.) It's the Amazon model.
The difference is that Amazon has always been a “no touch” seller. Our legal vendors have not. Will we see the day when real human beings will only be servicing uber large accounts and the rest of us will be “no touched” for print standing orders and online licensing? I think it is very possible that we will.
Downsizing sales forces and reorganizations of sales territories is already becoming an almost annual event. It is not beyond the realm of the industry’s cost-savings objectives that the only humans in a sales force will be those who hunt for new accounts in the field. Why? Could it be because the MBA-types who are calling the shots fail to understand the sales relationship between vendor field reps and buyer reps? Could it be because they never received an education in sales in B-Schools? Could it be because all they understand about a sales force is that they have to meet in Las Vegas every year?
It certainly can be the objective of some vendors to make their field reps obsolete and hopefully make well-informed buyer reps also obsolete by way of No Touch eCommerce sites. Just market sales pitches to ill-informed individual consumers. At the moment, West Mart is leading the vendor pack in implementing “no touch” sales by way of its eCommerce site and its OnePassYourAss scheme. Will other vendors follow to this extreme into the twilight zone of mutual obsolescence because the human factor just doesn’t compute in the business model for sales? [JH]
June 25, 2012
Exposing Potential Buyers to eBooks by Lending Them
This past year, the online resources with the highest public profile are e-books and e-readers. As demand for e-books soars, libraries of all sizes have added e-books to their collections. In the 2011-2012 study, 76.3 percent of libraries report offering access to e-books, up from 67.2 percent in 2010-2011 and 38.3 percent in 2007 (the first year this question appeared in the study). Additionally, e-readers have increasingly become a fixture in public libraries, with 39.1 percent of outlets providing access to such devices. Increasing e-book circulation statistics is likely attributed to a growing awareness of the availability of e-books at public libraries and Kindle’s compatibility with OverDrive, the subscription service that the majority of libraries with e-book collections use.
But according to Pew Internet's Libraries, patrons, and e-books survey "12% of readers of e-books borrowed an e-book from the library in the past year. But a majority of Americans do not know that this service is provided by their local library."
- 58% of all library card holders say they do not know if their library provides e-book lending services.
- 55% of all those who say the library is “very important” to them say they do not know if their library lends e-books.
- 53% of all tablet computer owners say they do not know if their library lends e-books.
- 48% of all owners of e-book reading devices such as original Kindles and NOOKs say they do not know if their library lends e-books.
- 47% of all those who read an e-book in the past year say they do not know if their library lends e-books.
Pew's survey also found that e-Book public library borrowers' expectations are not always being met for a number of reasons:
- 56% of e-book borrowers from libraries say that at one point or another they had tried to borrow a particular book and found that the library did not carry it.
- 52% of e-book borrowers say that at one point or another they discovered there was a waiting list to borrow the book.
- 18% of e-book borrowers say that at one point or another they found that an e-book they were interested in was not compatible with the e-reading device they were using.
One can make the case that eBook borrowers are not aware of the general trade industry's relucant to provide public libraries with lending copies of eBooks under a model similar to pBooks. Public library patrons expectations are based on their experience with the availability of borrowing pBooks. Since Pew's survey found that "58% of Americans have a library card, and 69% say that their local library is important to them and their family" one can expect user demand for eBooks to increase.
Pew's findings indicate that library card holders use more technology, and library card holders report that they read more books. The survey also found that many library patrons would like to learn more about borrowing eBooks.
- 46% of those who do not currently borrow e-books from libraries say they would be “very” or “somewhat” likely to borrow an e-reading device that came loaded with a book they wanted to read.
- 32% of those who do not currently borrow e-books say they would be “very” or “somewhat” likely to take a library class on how to download e-books onto handheld devices.
- 32% of those who do not currently borrow e-books say they would be “very” or “somewhat” likely to take a course at a library in how to use an e-reader or tablet computer.
Learning how to use an eReader or tablet computer is just one facet of the role public libraries play in providing tech training for patrons. According to ALA:
- Overall, 90.2 percent of public libraries offer some type of formal or informal technology training:
- Over 44 percent of libraries offer formal technology training classes. This increases to 63.2 percent for urban libraries.
- Over one-third (34.8 percent) of libraries provide one-on-one training by appointment.
- A large majority (82.7 percent) of libraries offer informal point-of-use training assistance.
- In all, over 36 percent of public libraries report increased use of technology training classes for patrons.
Being the source for tech training and digital literacy for members of the public, one can make the case that public library may enhance the sale of eBooks and eReaders to personal consumers if the general trade industry moved to a more reasonable lending solution for eBooks. Sales of eReaders and tablets and eBooks may increase after wider exposure to patrons in a public library setting.
Lending Law eBooks. The same argument can be made for law libraries' user populations. Absent a lending solution to expose and educate library users in the benefits of enhanced law eBooks and their eReader platforms, sales of single copy Law eBooks to individual practitioners could be less than what vendors are hoping for. Lexis is the only eBook-eLending publisher that has realized this right now. The eCirculation solution offered by Lexis has also solved the format compatiblity problem for user eReaders because lending copies of Lexis eBooks are available in both epub and mobi formats at no additional cost to the lending library. [JH]
June 20, 2012
I've Got a Bone to Pick with BNA Books
So ... on May 31st, I received a mass email titled "Check Out Bloomberg BNA's 2012-2013 Books Catalog" that stated in part:
The 2012–2013 Books Catalog can be viewed online (pdf file), or you can request a print copy by calling 1.800.960.1220 or emailing email@example.com.
(Emphasis added; Link to PDF file omitted for reasons stated below.)
Fine with me. Let's save some trees. I downloaded a copy of the PDF to my desktop. Over the course of a couple of days, I scraped the usual content -- title, price, order number and bunded order numbers -- from the PDF into a text file for reviewing possible purchases, bundled or not. Then I searched the PDF for the order forms which the catalog's TOC listed as being in the "center." Not there. To make absolutely certain because I have little short-term memory working, I printed out the entire 60-page PDF on June 11th. Nope, not in the PDF.
While waiting for the print job to be completed, I left the library, ordered a Black Eye at the local coffee shop, and smoked a cigarette. When I returned, the 60 page print job was still spitting out pages but one of my colleagues said "we just received two copies of the sales catalog in the mail and I put one in your office."
Aaargh! Sure enough, the order form were stapled in the center of the p-version of the sales catalog plus there was a letter insert that identified a discount code for non-bundled purchases. In our little county law library, that non-bundled discount offer was important since my wish list of titles were not bundle-able because either we already had the related titles or didn't want them. So, who at BNA Books blindly pushed the Make PDF button without adding both to it?
At least, when I executed a phone order for a couple of BNA Book titles later, BNA Books' customer service was excellent as usual. But I think someone at the Company owes me for the cost of the 60 page printout. Had the order forms and inserted letter been included in the PDF, that's all I would have printed out ahead of executing my order.
Finally and for the secord or third time (meaning I have forgotten how many times I have tried to call this to the Company's attention), will someone in the ad copy department put down his or her coffee and revise the author entry for "Fairweather’s Practice and Procedure in Labor Arbitration," 4th ed., Ray J. Schoonhoven, Editor, before next year's sales catalog! It reads:
Ray J. Schoonhoven, now retired, was a partner in Seyfarth Shaw, Chicago, IL, where he specialized in employment law and labor relations
Ray J. Schoonhoven (deceased) was a partner in Seyfarth Shaw, Chicago, IL, where he specialized in employment law and labor relations.
Luckily the editorial quality of the books I ordered will be better than the PDF production and ad copy quality of BNA Books' sales catalog. Time for a video. It is captioned "This is what happens when I have a spare 30 minutes." Obviously, the creator wasn't busy with BNA Books-related collection development matters. [JH]
July 5, 2012 Update. Fixed now.
June 19, 2012
Member and Vendor Comments on First Draft of Revised AALL Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers Due by July 15
Quoting from the Vendor Liasion Update for June 2012:
The Revisions Task Force on the AALL Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers seeks member and vendor comments on its first draft of the next edition of the guide. The task force invites suggestions for alternative language, problems or successes in using the guide, and new developments that should be included in the principles. Comments can be submitted via the Vendor Relations Community on AALLNET (login required) or to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The task force was created in July 2011 and is charged with reviewing the guide’s second edition (adopted by the AALL Executive Board in 2006) and submitting a report with proposed revisions this fall. The purpose of the guide is to educate vendors and consumers on "fair business practices" and to set realistic expectations on both sides that will facilitate effective and productive relationships. The task force’s goal is to update the guide to ensure that it remains relevant for print and electronic resources; this may include modernizing the practices addressed, clarifying language, strengthening principles, and adding supporting examples.
The deadline for comments is July 15.
Download a redlined version of the first draft here. [JH]
June 18, 2012
The 2012 Edition of the Bible Has Arrived: Legal Information Buyer's Guide & Reference Manual, 16th ed. is now available
Folks on standing order likely received the 2012 edition of the law librarian's best friend, the Legal Information Buyer's Guide & Reference Manual, late last week (or will soon). It has always been the best buyer's guide available but, because AALL has so utterly screwed up its Price Index by failing to ask for print supplement pricing for its last index, Ken Svengalis's work is also the only guide for estimating print supplementation costs for a law library's print budget.
Quoting from Ken's June 13th law-lib message:
I am pleased to announce the release of the 2012 (16th) edition of the "Legal Information Buyer's Guide & Reference Manual." It's the book Kevin Gerson, Director of the UCLA Law Library, has described as "hands-down the most useful book on legal information ever written." The book appears annually in June. Because having accurate and up-to-date supplementation cost data is essential to making informed collection development decisions, its release date is dictated by the process of collecting, collating and publishing the prior year’s supplementation costs.
Under our continued economic challenges, it has exactly the information your library needs to confront the rising costs of legal information. Its genesis in 1996 was one law librarian's response to the challenges we faced then. Those challenges have grown ever more acute with each passing year. Page for page, the “Legal Information Buyer’s Guide & Reference Manual” contains more useful and cost-saving information than any legal product on the market. It is the ONLY legal title that tracks supplementation costs, which is why most of our customers prefer to have it on standing order.
It contains, among other features, the most extensive annotated bibliography of the legal treatise literature in print, combined with a buyer's guide useful to lawyers and librarians who are in either acquisition or cancellation mode. It will allow you to carefully consider new acquisitions with full knowledge of the supplementation costs you are likely to incur, or to re-consider existing titles in your collection in light of rising supplementation costs. Consider this:
Since the merger of Thomson and West in 1996 (and the first edition of my book), West's print supplementation costs have risen more than 330% (1995 through 2011), reflecting an average annual increase of at least 11.5%. There has been virtually no diminution in the rate of increase for 2011, despite an economy which has brought law libraries from Maine to California to dire financial straights, and threats of closure in a number of states. Publications in every category have seen double-digit increases.
Consider just the National Reporter System series: Over the past two years, for example, the cost of Atlantic Reporter advance sheets has risen 20% annually, from $1,382.50 in 2010 to $1,659.00 in 2011 to $1991.04 in 2012. A bound volume subscription has increased from $5.407.50 in 2010 to $7,392.00 in 2012, or 36.69% over two years. Thomson Reuters’ maintained an extremely health 27.5% profit margin in 2011 (compared to the corporate average of 8.4% since 1980) at a time when law libraries all over are struggling. Yet, ironically, West will want us to sit down with them at a variety of receptions, luncheons, and parties at the upcoming annual meeting and ignore these glaring realities. The expense of hosting these functions represents an infinitesimal fraction of the profits they have made off struggling law libraries, most of whose librarians cannot afford to attend the annual meeting because their libraries are so strapped for funds.
In light of the current state of the economy and the perilous position of many law libraries across the country, the current cost and supplementation cost data in the “Legal Information Buyer’s Guide & Reference Manual” will no doubt prove an invaluable resource to libraries of all kinds. Those of you who have been in the profession for many years will remember the former "FTC Guides for the Legal Publishing Industry." Those guides required publishers to provide customers the last two years' supplementation costs in their promotional literature, a requirement that was often ignored.
With the demise of the FTC Guides, and the lack of an effective replacement, the availability of this supplementation cost data is virtually non-existent, unless one asks for it specifically. This is where the "Legal Information Buyer's Guide & Reference Manual" has stepped in to fill the breach. After all, it's all about the supplementation, from which legal publishers derive 80-85% of their revenues. Getting a handle on supplementation costs is the primary way in which law libraries can confront these budgetary challenges.
We are now tracking the costs of more than 3,000 publications, including nearly 2,100 legal treatises, 128 reference titles, and hundreds of the leading state and federal publications. The 2012 edition now includes supplementation costs as far back as 1993 and up to and including 2011 (or 2012 in the case of LexisNexis Matthew Bender). The initial cost and supplementation costs for the years 2008-2012 are also featured in a 26-page spreadsheet in Appendix H, providing a convenient and timesaving means of conducting comparative product evaluations of all the supplemented titles we cover. There are also reviews of more than 80 of the most significant new treatise titles and legal monographs published in 2011 and early 2012. In addition to substantial new content, the 2012 edition includes complete updating of all pricing data, including West’s Monthly Assured Print Pricing, CD-ROM and Internet pricing, and the cost of used monographs on Amazon.com.
Shipments to all standing order subscribers were made early this week. If you are uncertain if your library is on standing order, please e-mail us and we will confirm your status. The 2012 edition is priced at only $162.00 plus shipping and handling, reflecting our first price increase in three years, and that less than 4%, reflecting increased costs for printing and shipping. The 2012 "Legal Information Buyer's Guide & Reference Manual" may be ordered on our web site www.nelawpress.com, ... by calling our order line (860) 535-0362, or Faxing us at (860) 535-0378. We accept Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, or will invoice. Additional copies shipped to the same address are only $130.00 each. A fully searchable CD-ROM version of the book is also priced at $162.00, or $80.00 when ordered in combination with the print edition. Libraries have found it to be a convenient means of printing out subject or state bibliographies, or any other material, for attorneys, judges, faculty and students.
We will, again, be at the Basch Subscriptions/Reference Shelf booth at the AALL Annual Meeting in Boston, where we will be raffling off one copy per day. Please stop by and say “hello” and enter the raffle.
New England LawPress
Note to FTC. No free review copy provided. I acquire every annual edition. Keep the current one in my office, the prior year's edition at home and earlier editions in the law library to answer reference questions about recommended publications. [JH]
June 01, 2012
National Treasure: Mystery of the Lost Library of Congress
History tells us that Thomas Jefferson's private library was acquired in 1815 to replace the Library of Congress's collection destroyed by fire on August 24, 1814 during the War of 1812. But was the entire first collection of the Library of Congress consumed in the fires?
Custodia Legis reports that "in the immediate aftermath of the fire, there were conflicting reports about the extent of the damage that was inflicted on the original collection." Some historical records indicate that many of the most valuable and scarce books in the Library’s original collection were removed before the British occupied Washington, D.C. and that only duplicate copies of them were destroyed. But, if that is the case, no one knows what became of the books.
About the lost collection, the Library of Congress post concludes "[o]f course it is generally assumed to have been destroyed. But the story bears repeating every century or so." For details, see The Mysterious Disappearance of the First Library of Congress.
Sounds like a perfect story for the National Treasure franchise to me. Imagine the conspiracy plot line. Jefferson is cash poor and sells his books to Congress because he needs money, The Congressional purchase was controversal. Why? What's the backstory? See National Treasure 3 (or is it 4): The Lost Library of Congress Found. [JH]
May 04, 2012
Shed West Era Photo Wins AALL's Day in the Life Contest (and a call for more empty stacks photos)
The winner in the Best Overall Photo category is "I Wonder What it was Like to 'Shelve a Book.'" Taken by Rita Kaiser, the caption reads "Yumi Blackwell, associate research librarian, evaluates the library's choices to use the shelves now that we access the reporters electronically." Congratulations to all award winners in this year's AALL Day in the Life Photo Contest.
3 Geekster Greg Lambert recently issued a call on AALL lists for empty stacks photos.
I'm thinking of writing on the topic of "never have our shelves been so empty, yet our collections so large" and wanted to build a collage of empty shelving.
Sounds interesting Gregster.
I would need an uber wide-angle lens for my camera to contribute a photo showing over 4,000 linear feet of empty shelving in our little county law library. That's 113,000 pounds of print sent to the recycling center, folks. Law reviews plus West reporters, annotated codes from the more expensive of the two publishers (I think you know which one that is) as well as antiquated West reference works and tools that once provided dependable recurring revenue generating high profits from print for Thomson Reuter's cash cow are history. Legal encyclopedias, digests, and massive form sets that were being priced out of existence anyway at least provided our County with some recycling credit because that's all they were worth in the free-to-a-good-home market.
Some 50% of US law libraries expect that the space allocated to their library will decrease in three years time according to Law Library Benchmarks, 2012-13 Ed. Clearly that means more empty shelving and more print sent to recycling centers. It also means substituting electronic resources for print ones but as law librarians continue to evaluate their collections, my hunch is many will find in their circulation and database usage statiscial analysis that the "infrequently used" resource will be eliminated. Low usage simply does not the justify the expense. Being able to provide resources to answer every research question is being replaced in those few law libraries that still attempt to do that with being able to answer the usual sorts of questions asked.
Watch for the trend to eliminate out-of-plan licensing without adding lightly used out-of-plan resources to in-plan only licenses to escalate. In addition to the Shed West Era in print, private and public sector institutional buyers are well into the Flat Rate Online Legal Search Era; it's not like BLaw is really offering anything new.
Alas, under the next gen current gen search platforms, screen captures of online database menu options won't be submitted for some future AALL Day in the Life photo contest with a "This is all my users need" caption. [JH]
April 16, 2012
Managing a Library's Electronic Collection: The Long March to an Integrated Discovery and Access Platform
The Douglas County (Colorado) public library system has developed a solution for discovering and lending eBooks. Monique Sendze, Associate Director of Information Technology at Douglas County Libraries, describes the project in detail in her article The E-Book Experiment, Public Libraries (January/February 2012). Buy-in from major trade publishers, some who do provide lending rights for eBooks and most who don't, has not be forthcoming. One issue appears to be that the publishing community does not want to sell to individual libraries, preferring instead to sell to wholesalers like OverDrive because of the administrative overhead of engaging in direct sales. The Douglas County Libraries, however, estimates that self-hosting eBooks is saving about a third of the cost of licensing the same titles from wholesalers.
Cost savings, however, are not the only issue. Discovering eBooks in a collection present a serious problem for patrons.
Libraries want to provide e-books through a single, easy-to-use, easy-to-search platform. Unfortunately, that may never happen. Vendors continue to create their own distinct platforms: OverDrive, Baker & Taylor, Simon & Schuster, 3M, ProQuest, EBSCO, etc. Libraries are expected to present all of these platforms to patrons in a way that makes sense, which is near impossible.
Let's add the article observes that the trend in self-published eBooks have been growing exponentially and those eBooks are not captured by traditional distribution channels which now only account for 12 percent of new content. Then there are the problems that arise from the current eBook licensing business model for library collection development planning.
[Douglas County Libraries] immediate goals to improve the library e-book user experience include:
to enhance the discovery of e-books with VuFind library catalog software;
to simplify the delivery and circulation of e-books with Adobe Content Server (ACS); and
to challenge a business model based on content license, with one based on content purchase.
Library staff have developed software to optimize the e-book user experience; implemented Adobe Content Server to store and deliver e-books that require DRM; and begun working with publishers to develop an e-book purchase model that will fairly compensate writers and publishers, while meeting the expectations of library users.
On ALA TechSource, Patrick Hogan reports:
the Colorado State Library will soon be launching a website so that the library community can access information such as technical documentation, presentations to the board, and usage data as it becomes available. A number of state libraries and consortia have expressed interest and are watching Douglas County as a model.
For much more, see Sendze's The E-Book Experiment. Highly recommended. One day, law libraries will be dealing with the same issues public libraries are addressing now.
Obviously, law libraries haven't reached the critical mass of issues about law eBooks yet. Hell, we only have one vendor that is even offering a circulation solution so far. But eBooks titles offered by ABA, CCH, Lexis, TR Legal, university presses, etc., are raising the issue of how institutional buyers are going to manage their eBook content by way of a unified discovery and access platform that is library-centric.
The Douglas County Libraries is be a model for self-hosting eBooks obtained from multiple publishers. The most serious drawback is in-house development, implementation and maintainance costs. The economy of scale makes sense for the Douglas County library system. It's seven libraries serve a population of close to 300,000 and is considered one of the busiest libraries in the United States with more than eight million items checked out annually.
Perhaps if the Long Count Calendar marks the start of a new cycle on Dec. 21, 2012, some enterprising garage techie will craft an attractive cloud based commercially available in-house discovery and access interface solution for all electronic content from licensed legal search database service that access content at the database specific level to eNewsletters, eJournals and eBooks which are not isolated by the multiple platform silos of individual vendors and their bundles. This, of course, is not part of the strategic objective of any legal publishing vendor.
Sometimes we discard the old because it no longer is relevant. Other times it is worth the fight to preserve the old by embracing new technological solutions. In the database era, we gave up on the notion of "library stacks" holding some of our major resources, relying instead on vendor-specific interfaces of menu options for database selections. The menu has been replaced with today's legal search model of internal federated searching with filter option. Now come law eBooks. If law librarian do not want to hand over discovery and access of them to multiple vendor-specific platforms, they will have a fight on their hands because the vendor community's objective is to preserve its own silos by a user account dashboard model that offers only its content and solutions (including research) and ultimately eBooks. At issue for librarians is whether or not we can succeed in creating an interface similar in purpose to print era stacks for users to discover and access all of our eHoldings. [JH]
April 12, 2012
Federal District Court Says OK To Library Blocking Internet Content To Adults
Judge Edward Shea of the Eastern District of Washington issued an opinion on Tuesday in the long simmering case of Bradburn v. North Central Library Regional Library District (NCLR) (NO. CV-06-0327-EFS, via a link to PACER). The case involves the constitutionality of filters set up on Internet accessible computers in the 28 NCRL branches. These are mandated by the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) in circumstances where a library receives federal funding. The library system has a policy where it will not automatically unblock web sites for adult patrons and reserved the right to block or unblock sites. That policy resulted in a federal lawsuit filed in 2006.
The District Court initially certified the question to the Washington Supreme Court for a ruling under the Washington State Constitution. That Court answered the question by stating that the filtering practice does not violate Washington’s free speech guarantees. Previous LLB coverage of that decision is here, along with details of what kinds of materials were blocked.
The Washington Supreme Court, in essence, said that filtering is part of collection development and is reasonable. The library is not obligated to provide complete access to protected speech just because it exists. The only question remaining before the District Court is whether the practice of blocking content for adults is a violation of the First Amendment.
The Court states up front that not all the speech blocked is “constitutionally unprotected” (its terms) and that adult patrons are unable to view it with filters in place. The library does have a policy where adults can request a page to be unblocked and the library uses its own discretion to unblock the site or not. The Court, in this context, decided that it should use the rational review standard in deciding the case. It quoted United States v. Am. Library Ass'n, 539 U.S. 194 for the concept that the library is not to be considered a public forum under the First Amendment, even if it is government funded. On that basis it found the discretion to block or unblock does not violate the First Amendment:
Scrutinizing the undisputed facts under rational review, the Court finds NCRL's use of FortiGuard to filter its patrons' Internet access and its decision to not disable the filter upon an adult patron's request complies with the First Amendment. It is reasonable for NCRL to develop an Internet policy that can be implemented consistently throughout its twenty-eight libraries, and it did so by implementing the Policy. NCRL's libraries are relatively small in size and only one has a partition separating the children's portion of the library from the remainder of the library. Blocking Internet sites and pages that contain constitutionally-protected material deemed suitable only for adults helps ensure that the environment at NCRL libraries is consistent with its mission of providing learning and research opportunities for individuals of all ages. This is a legitimate government interest.
And NCRL's practice of requiring a patron to request that a particular web site or page be unblocked is an efficient and rationale way for NCRL to determine whether that web site or page is consistent with its policies and mission, especially in light of the Internet's continuous change. NCRL simply does not have the resources to have its staff review the vast and limitless amount of sites and pages on the Internet to determine whether they are consistent with its policies and mission. NCRL's unblocking-request process reasonably accomplishes its policies and mission, while at the same time complying with CIPA.
The Court acknowledges that this process may frustrate some adult patrons. However, without the funding provided by CIPA, NCRL likely could not provide any Internet access to its patrons. This would be a great disservice to the NCRL patrons, many of whom live in rural areas where reliable, affordably-priced Internet access may be difficult to obtain.
I wrote at the time of the Washington Supreme Court decision that I agreed with the idea that libraries should not be required to make collection development decisions with the First Amendment looming in the background. I agree with the District Court that a library’s collection development strategies encompass online access. The library is a source for Internet access. It’s not the only possible source. As such, the library should be able to decide on its own how liberal or conservative its online access policies should be, even if it receives funding from the government. I would rather see this than a Court dictating what information should or should not be in the collection.
The plaintiffs wanted a ruling that limited a library’s discretion to the physical collection. I’m sure they are disappointed and I would expect them to appeal to the Ninth Circuit. We’ll see how this plays out. As of now, NCLR was granted summary judgment with this opinion and order. [MG]
April 10, 2012
Pew Interent to Research the Changing Landscape of Library Services in First Comprehensive Examination of Reading Habits Since the Rise of eBooks
Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project is conducting the frist comprehensive examination of the reading habits of the general population in the digital era since eBooks came into prominence. The first installment in this Gates Foundation-funded research was pubished in a report dated April 5, 2012. Titled, "The rise of e-reading," Pew reports on the findings of its survey results in detail. The report can be downloaded in PDF here and can be viewed online here.
Key findings include:
- A fifth of American adults have read an e-book in the past year and the number of e-book readers grew after a major increase in ownership of e-book reading devices and tablet computers during the holiday gift-giving season.
- The average reader of e-books says she has read 24 books (the mean number) in the past 12 months, compared with an average of 15 books by a non-e-book consumer.
- 30% of those who read e-content say they now spend more time reading, and owners of tablets and e-book readers particularly stand out as reading more now.
- The prevalence of e-book reading is markedly growing, but printed books still dominate the world of book readers.
- E-book reading happens across an array of devices, including smartphones.
- In a head-to-head competition, people prefer e-books to printed books when they want speedy access and portability, but print wins out when people are reading to children and sharing books with others.
The Role of Commercial eBooks in Public Libraries. "The rise of e-reading" report is part of the first phase of Pew's research project. "Subsequent reports will cover how librarians and patrons perceive the situation with e-books and other digital content, and how people in different kinds of communities (urban, suburban, and rural) compare in their reading habits. Further down the line, this research will cover the changing landscape of library services."
Later in this first phase of the work, we will survey librarians and library patrons about the role of e-books in libraries. In the second phase of the work later in 2012, we will conduct focus groups with librarians and patrons about the changing scope of services being offered and being contemplated in libraries. We will supplement that work with a national survey of the general public about the evolving role of libraries in communities. In the third phase of the work in 2013, we will conduct a large national survey of library users and non-users.
Once completed, I think Pew's research will provide an empirical foundation for public libraries and the trade publishing industry which may be useful to move forward. Certainly ALA's promise to detailed circulation data to the general trade industry may help those publishers who do not offer eBooks for lending by providing some information for crafting a pricing matrix. Pew's research could put that specific issue in a broader context.
The Changing Landscape of Law Library Services Because of Commercial Enhanced Law eBooks. I do not believe Pew's research will attempt to isolate the use of specialized eBooks by professionals in the context of work-related needs. However, I believe legal information professionals, institutional and individual consumers of professional eBooks may find the findings of Pew's research studies useful albeit not directly on point.
We are not yet at the stage where our vendors' enhanced law eBooks has risen to the prominence seen in general trade titles. That's because our vendors have been behind the curve in bringing to market this new form of publication where the e in eBooks stands for enhanced. But they are catching up and are beginning to compete with each other; enhanced law eBooks are here.
Our major vendors target the private sector first because that is where the $$$ is. That's why on my schedule of possible programs to attend at Boston 2012, one of the few sessions I marked with a check mark instead of a question mark is Law Firm Libraries: Your E-book Future Has Arrived, (Monday July 23, 2012 1:15pm - 2:15pm at HCC-Room 306) Organizers and presenters include two large law firm librarians and representatives from Thomson Reuters and Lexis.
This a session I hope all law library market sector buying representatives consider attending. I seriously doubt the organizers intended to exclude the "rest of us." It is just that firm libraries will be the first adopters of enhanced law eBooks. The rest of us will benefit now and in the future from the law firm perspective.
Quoting from this program's description:
Visions of attorneys waving their Kindles and iPads in front of our faces demanding e-books have begun to haunt our dreams. So many questions come to mind: What will the functionality be like? How will updates work? Will our attorneys want both print and e-book, and what will that do to our budgets? What happens when an attorney leaves, along with e-book content paid for by the firm? A panel of two firm librarians who have conducted e-book trials, and two vendors will talk about the experience, as well as what vendors are doing with regard to functionality, pricing, and administration.
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]
March 06, 2012
Market and Distribution Cannibalization in the General Trade Publishing Industry for eBooks, Part 2: Outcome objectives of publishers and libraries as intermediaries between authors and readers of eBooks
"[T]here are many legitimate reasons for the biggest publishers to take a wait-and-see attitude about libraries and ebooks," writes Mike Shatzkin in a post published before Random House's recently announced price increase. See part one of this LLB's series. According to Shatzkin, they include:
- libraries are, at most 5% of a general trade publisher’s business and far less of the ebook business
- the market is changing so rapidly
- every retailer except Amazon can be said to be struggling to carve out a sustainable position in the global ebook marketplace
In the context of the general trade publishing industry, Shatzkin adds
The fear is of a “shopping and consuming” experience at the libraries which is comparable to what the retailers can offer. That potential is largely mitigated now because most of the big books don’t go to them. But, if they did, publishers fear the market could shift away from retail. ... That fear is not just about a “lost sale”. It is also about a “lost channel” of sales, or a pipe to the consumer that runs entirely through Amazon.
For more on the general trade publishing industry's side of the issue, see Shatzkin's Libraries and publishers don’t have symmetrical interest in a conversation.
Bob Mayer, CEO of Who Dares Wins Publishing, an indie p- and ePublisher writes at Authors create content, readers consume content, everyone else is in between (Digital Book World):
Some roles, the mainstays of traditional publishing, are outmoded. Distribution is no longer king (yes, I know print still outsells eBooks but take out your top 5% of authors and really??). Discoverability is key. Since traditional publishing’s business model was essentially wrapped around distribution, this is such a fundamental change one wonders if most of those in traditional publishing will survive it.
Sound far-fetched? What if authors decide to go eBook-first on their own? The more successful authors might then land a contract for pBook editions. What if Amazon Publishing's new business venture succeeds? No doubt the primary objective is to sell exclusive content for eBooks only available in Kindle edtions. "At some point ... the eBook will become the publishing market’s primary engine," writes Frédéric Filloux in Ebooks: The Giant Disruption (Monday Note: Media, Technology & Business Models).
At the moment, Mayer may be overstating the case for the Big Six. eBook discovery certainly is crucial for indie publishers; utilizing the likes of an Amazon pipeline to sell their p- and eBooks helps sales. It is not, however, the issue Shatzkin highlighted above for the Big Six publishers' distribution concerns. But are the Big Six concerns short-sighted? In the context of the French publishing industry, Filloux, who is the general manager of the French ePresse consortium, writes "[t]oo many publishing industry professionals still hope for a soft transition." Perhaps that statement also applies to the Big Six. At the very least, five of the Big Six are taking a wait-and-see approach to eLending and are probably doing so in the hope of an eventual soft transition in the wholesale market for institutional buyers who want to lend eBooks.
One could make the weak case that eLending of eBooks is a means to consumer discovery of the eBook editions. Studies has been produced to show that eLoaned eBooks do produce individual consumer sales of eBooks. However, as long as general trade publishers sell their eBooks by way of "lost channel[s]" of sales, their concern remains. Or does it? These same publishers are selling their p-Books via Amazon, etc.
For the moment, the public library that wants to loan eBooks apparently is viewed by major general trade publishers as an institution that might threaten eBook sales to individual consumers. If that were the case, the same is true for circluating pBooks, audio, etc. The wholesaler pricing matrix established by Random House will, I believe, eventually be adjusted based on library-supplied aggregate eBook circulation data. Upward or downward? Who knows. However, this is a publishing industry problem, one that was not created by libraries.
In economic terms, market cannibalization is in play. It is the negative impact of a company's new product (eBooks) on the sales performance of its existing related products (pBooks). Clearly that was behind major publishers' push-back response to Amazon's initial attempt to set eBook prices so low. At the moment, one may also view distribution cannibalization as being much more in play because trade publishers jumped into eCommerce by way of sellers like Amazon. However, in the 21st century are eCommerce e-booksellers really any different than big chain pBook book store sellers were in the past?
For the public library, however, the mission as instiutional buyer and provider of lendable matters remains unchanged. Quoting from the ALA's March 2, 2012 press release, ALA calls on Random House to reconsider major ebook price increase:
Libraries must have the ability to purchase a wide range of digital content at a fair price so that all readers have full access to our world’s creative and cultural resources, especially those who depend on libraries as their only source of reading material.
Libraries belong at the center of this digital revolution, not on the periphery. We continue to seek partners to further our shared goals of connecting readers and authors well into the 21st century.
What about the issues of market and distribution cannibalization in the commercial legal publishing industry for law eBooks in the context of law libraries? [JH]
February 13, 2012
TR Legal Responds to Latest Add-Ons/Ancillary Materials Rant Published on Law-Lib
The law-lib list went viral last week in response to a West Key Rules rant. By "rant" and the law-lib message trail, I mean "to scold West vehemently" because no one spoke up in TR Legal's defense of its business practice in this matter. As a PSA, you can listen to TR Legal's unofficial response in the below video clip. Wait for it at 1:59. My hunch is that current occupants of executive suites in the Land of 10,000 Invoices do
love the smell of desperate librarian(s) in the morning.
No word from AALL on law-lib about this. Perhaps I missed it, perhaps not. At this point in the AALL-vendor "partnership," I think the only way our association of institutional buyers will truly understand what the hell is going on and can be prepared to respond in a timely institutional buyer manner is if AALL buys print and online from TR Legal and our other major vendors for an in-house collection of p- and e-resources at HQ. Nothing trumps first-hand experience in "customer education and experience." Do I digress?
Grassroots advice from invoice-paying law librarians to invoice-paying law librarians. What the heck, do we really need another pushback "Dear Colleagues" response to an AALL inquiry? The law-lib message trail offers sound advice from law librarians, including the following:
The best way to combat dishonest sales practices is to buy the rules from other publishers. Take your business elsewhere.
We switched our Federal Rules and IP rules over to O'Conners [published by Jones McClure] and saved money plus they are a pleasure to do business with.
Do note that Jones McClure offers federal rules that are well-edited, reliably annotated and priced one hellva lot lower than West but only offers state rules for Texas and California; if your state rules market is not monopolized by West, Lexis state rules, at least for Ohio, are just as good, if not better than West, and cost substantially less than the titles offered by the Land of 10,000 Invoices.
If your user population insists on West state rules, even after showing them the costs of and explaining the practices of TR Legal, one law-lib-er offers the following advice:
Call HQ and ask to speak to the Subscriptions Department. They can remove add-on subscriptions while you talk and give you a confirmation number to use if/when another copy shows up. You can also ask to have your account flagged No-Add-Ons/No Ancillary Materials. Regular Customer Service reps can sympathize and send return labels only. Vigilance may still be needed, but the number of unsolicited items will drop to practically zero.
I don not know if institutional buyers BDSM-ed by way of West's LMA can kill Add-Ons/No Ancillary Materials during the term of their multi-year contracts but their libraries can certainly take action at the end of their LMAs. Ditto regarding WestPack-ed titles tied to Westlaw contracts.
One law-lib-er commented:
[T]o me the more important point is they can't MAKE you buy them. If they are bundled and there is no additional cost that's one thing. But West Publishing does NOT make collection development decisions for my firm. That is my job.
- There is always a cost because we are talking about TR Legal;
- West's entire add-ons and ancillary materials scheme clearly indicates that West thinks it is their job to make our collection development decisions because in past "Dear Colleagues," the message, in a nutshell, was "we think those materials are useful to our customers."; and
- By way of TR's OnePass-Your Ass scheme [here and here], TR intends not only to make our collection development decisions but also to sell its court rules, etc. directly to our institutional users and toss the cost into our institutional West accounts. See ad, right.
BTW, if the medium is truly the message, law-lib-ers offer a number of arts and crafts activities for using the Key Rules print volumes.
I haven't linked to or identified the law librarians who posted on law-lib following the initial West KeyRules Rant. The vast majority were law firm librarians. All major vendors monitor law-lib -- well, perhaps TR Legal has stopped doing so because the folks in the Land of 10,000 Invoices just might not give a damn about what their institutional buyers think anymore. Oh, my bad. Anyone remember the last time TR Legal did give a damn by taking corrective action?
AALL Consumer Advocacy Caucus calls for information from the rank-and-file. The above opinions are mine and mine along. That being stated explicitly, do note that Michael Ginsborg posted the following message in the Key Rules Rank law-lib trail:
[The AALL] Consumer Advocacy Caucus would welcome your complaints about these kinds of problems with legal publishers. We aim to track as many complaints as we can. Doing so will help us reflect your concern as we collect evidence of unfair and anticompetitive business practices. We expect to use this evidence when we prepare our recommendations to the AALL Executive Board for government intervention.
To communicate consumer complaints about the kinds of problems law librarians are experiencing because of vendor business practices for the above-stated evidence collection objective, the Consumer Advocacy Caucus has established an information clearinghouse by way of this Google docs-driven Library Consumer Complaint Form. [JH]
February 08, 2012
Thomson Reuters' OnePass-YourAss Scheme, Part Two: "There are times when verbal ingenuity is not enough."
Just because some OnePass account holder gets a pop up in WestMart's eCommerce online purchasing system which says in effect "I am authorized to make this purchase" doesn't cut it when Thomson Reuters has made absolutely no attempt to verify that statement. That OnePass account holder may think he or she is authorized to buy because he or she has this nifty OnePass user account but will learn that is not the case after racking up an institutional charge that results in an in-house "Banzai" meeting with this buckaroo.
"Hey, hey, hey — don't be mean. We don't have to be mean. 'Cause, remember: no matter where you go... there you are." Hell, even Amazon has a better system. I can buy something on Amazon, charge it to my personal credit card or established institutional line-of-credit account depending on well, you know, I am buying something for me or my library. I can also instruct Amazon where I want the stuff shipped as in to home or office and that ship-to is not tied to my billing selection. Of course, there is another solution. It is a bit extreme but in this Shed West Era of print cancellations and there being no sacred cows requiring both WEXIS search services, just kill off TR Legal search but remember you will also have to kill off all OnePass-ed "solutions" services, too.
So here we are. Once upon a time, West reps were selling CDs to individual attorneys that showed up on their institution's billing account without prior approval from whomever actually had the authority to spend the institution's $$. Then billing to West institutional accounts was restricted. Now TR Legal is stealing a sales tactic from the bad old days and applying it again.
"Treat us good, we'll treat you better. Treat us bad, we’ll treat you worse." I'm thinking TR Legal believes most institutional buyers just won't be won't be paying much attention to their OnePass-YourAss system. Bull. In these times of close monitoring of spending, even a $12 charge to a library account gets spotted. Of course, not all institutional buyers pay that much attention or are as knowledgeable in how Thomson Reuters tries to conduct business until the Company gets caught.
Today's TR ProView eBooks will end up being just like yesterday's CD-ROMs. When we invoice-playing institutional buyers see statements that include the $$$ charges for unauthorized purchases (plus their multi-years commitments to and good 'til cancelled licensing terms) by way of OnePass-YourAss all hell will break out again.
"In my experience, nothing is ever what it seems to be, but everything is exactly what it is." Hello TR Legal, we know you really meant it when you told lawyers in a nutshell that they needed their heads examined if they know their law librarian's name a couple of years ago. We know the marketing objective to increase sales is to sell directly to the attorney (pBooks, eBooks, even, god hell us, perhaps someday personalized WLN plans in institutional settings) by way of WestMart. Hell, I've got no problem if any attorney foolishly wants to spend his or her money to buy one of your products or services but I seriously doubt any institutional buyer wants that personal purchase to become an institutionalized expense.
I offer three off-the-top of this aging and decrepit Boomer-Gen law library director reasons:
- There is no verification mechanism in place;
- Institutional buyers just might want to make volume purchases at a discounted price; and
- You know damn well, no institutional buyer representative wants to start his or her week off with the following to-do list.
OnePass Account Holder Jim Smith's license for X is set to expire. Does he want to keep it? What is the price inflation rate?
OnePass Account Holder Bob Daleo's licenses for X and Y are set to expire. Does he want to cancel one or both of them? If not, what is the price inflation rate?
One Pass Account Holder Mike Suchsland's license for A is set to expire. Does he want to keep it? What is the price inflation rate?
Remember to check with OnePass Account Holder Peter Warwick to see if he still wants us to shell out for SuperLawyer or has simply forgotten about that.
Check to confirm that Friday's request that former OnePass Account Holder Tom Glocer's account and all things tied to his account has been vaporized.
One Pass Account Holder Mike Suchsland's license for B and Z is set to expire. Does he want to cancel one or both of them? If not, what is the price inflation rate?
One Pass Account Holder Deirdre Stanley's licenses for C, D, X, Y are set to expire. Before checking with her, log into her account to see if her license for A was vaporized because Jim Smith thinks it is too expense although Mike Suchsland "loves" it. (Note to self: did we get a credit?)
OnePass Account Holder Jim Smith's license for C and E are set to expire. Does he want to keep them? What is the price inflation rate?
Check (again) to see if the glitch to Jim Powell's OnePass account has been fixed yet.
"A battle won is a battle which [Thomson Reuters] will not acknowledge being lost." TRI's year-end financial report and webcast about that starts at 8:30 AM (Eastern) tomorrow. I doubt any of the execs will be highlighting this OnePass-YourAss scheme to guarantee a revenue stream for its cash cow, TR Legal.
Of course, I could be wrong. They just might be that arrogant to still think TR Legal's US legal customer base really, really needs what TR sells so their customer base will swallow OnePass-YourAss. Hell, someone may even follow the well-scripted response that "we've surveyed our customers and they think this is great!"
"Know that, as in life, there is much that many have looked upon but few have seen because, as my father told me and his father told him, you will come to learn a great deal if you study the insignificant in depth." The investment community knows that. Remember folks, what really matters to the investment community isn't one-off revenue. It's all about organic growth of recurring revenues (read subscriptions and licenses). TR Legal paid the price for maintaining its historical rate of print supplement price inflation during what is known as the work-in-progress Shed West Era.
TRI's OnePass-YourAss scheme with its tie-up to institutional accounts, its multi-year commitments to its coming line of ProView eBooks designed to be sold to individual attorneys with that later-on standing order component and the automatic eBook price inflation rates we will see in a couple of years, is designed for one and only one reason. That reason is not "consumer surplus," an economic term of art for consumers happy to get more than what they expected. Nope, the strategic objective here is increasing its lost revenue stream for recurring revenues. However...
"Those in a hurry show only that the thing they are about is too big for them."
February 07, 2012
Thomson Reuters' OnePass-YourAss Scheme, Part One: The sign on the wall says "Progress over [Software] Protocol"
Back on Dec. 15, 2011, a law firm librarian posted a warning on law-lib about how anyone who has a credit card or knows the firm's Land of 10,000 Invoices account number can execute a transaction that will be billed to the firm's West account. Hell, one doesn't even have to know the institution's West billing account number(s). There is plenty of tie-ins. Ship-to addresses are tied to bill-to West accounts. Even easier, order online via WestMart requires an OnePass user account which is, of course, automatically associated with the institutional buyer's West billing account. Ah ... having an individual OnePass account permits the account holder to use resources licensed by the institution. It does not mean every damn OnePass account holder has a "license" to buy something. Do note well, even personal, meaning not firm, credit card purchases can get sucked into TR's OnePass-YourAss system.
A comment to the Dec. 15, 2011 law-lib post identified just how far and wide TR's OnePass-YourAss practice reaches. By that I mean we aren't just talking about an attorney buying a $15 dollar Rutter Group pamphlet for office use without prior authorization (damn good catch!), a SuperLawyers transaction involving a firm's market director (who presumable has the authority to use a firm credit for this transaction) also appeared in the firm's West account managed by the law library! (Obviously, Thomson Reuters wants folks to replace in-house budgeting and expenditure systems that identify library spend for legal resources with a standalone budget line item that informs the MBA-types "this is how much you are paying to Thomson Reuters," but I digress... .)
After a series of email exchanges, West's response as published on law-lib was:
Thank you for contacting Thomson Reuters ... Support regarding the online order. I am happy to assist you.
1. The system brought up the [X] shipping address but the person placing the order changed it to [Y] address.
2. It does show as paid by [attorney's] credit card.
Our system won't require them to use a credit card if they are using the firm's account number when placing the order. We don't have any way to block someone from placing an order if they are using the firm's account number.
"Today's impossible is tomorrow's reality." Apparently the Company's programming gurus are too incompetent to program a block for this stunt. Well, here's how to do it: He or she who authorizes payment to the Land of 10,000 Licenses, is the person who determines which OnePass account holders can or cannot buy something. Remember folks, any member of your institution might have more than one OnePass account. We are not just talking about folks accessing Westlaw.
How really how hard is it to tie each OnePass account's registration key to a set of permissions? X can buy stuff, Y cannot. Is that really impossible? Of course not, OnePass OneAss accounts are database-driven to gain access. Permission settings in the form of verified authorizations are not bleeding edge programming. It is not just possible, it is pretty damn easy. TR Legal just doesn't want to do it.
"The man who has ceased to fear has ceased to care." There is no doubt in my mind, that if TR Legal sent every law library director a link to a secure web destination to check off one-by-one which OnePass account is authorized to make buy-not-buy decisions, it would get our immediate attention. And you know why!
There's been no publicized follow up from AALL since the December 15, law-lib message that I have seen. There has also been no "Dear Colleagues" posting on law-lib (unless I missed it). Why? Well, perhaps because one of law-lib messages included West's "solutions" to this matter:
Send an email to the Firm highlighting no personal orders should be placed with Thomson Reuters on the firm account
Utilize “My Account” to check new orders
Periodically review Print Subscription List with Customer Service Key Account Team to ensure the correct print subscriptions are on the account.
"May I pass along my congratulations for your great interdimensional breakthrough. I am sure, in the miserable annals of the Earth, you will be duly enshrined," Customer Service person. My response:
Right, an email is going to "work." Plus, law librarians across this great land of ours are going to have to establish separate OnePass user accounts that better be tied to an non-institutional email account and hope that user populations remembers to use that account for personal purchases.
Really, hourly check, daily check, weekly check for non-order "orders"?
Well, first, your institution has to be a "Key Account" (read really big spender) to be able to contact someone other than 1-800-Nameless unless you know your Westlaw rep's pBook support team member's name and have his or her contact inform. Of course that assumes (1) the pBook person is still on the job and (2) you still have a Westlaw rep.
Oh, BTW, will my "Print Subscription List" include eBooks any of my OnePass account holders have licensed without prior authorization?
(You do know, you can ask for your "Print Subscription List," right? Just call or email a request to John Shaughnessy, Vice President, Corporate Communications - Legal to obain a 2012 Pro Forma price list. Oh, my bad, "corporate communications" means outside, not inside the Land of 10,000 Invoices. Well, it is obtainable if you know who to contact. But I digress... .)
"Asking is a polite way of demanding." So to hell with it. Here's another solution. Just tell TR to go take a hike. Need language? To avoid deniability it would be prudent to send some sort of notice like the below via certified, return receipt snail mail.
Chairman, Thomson Reuters
3 Times Square
New York, NY 10036
Re: "There is little time. You better come quickly if your planet is still important to you."
This is to inform Thomson Reuters, all of the Company's business units now and future ones, that only the undersigned representative of the institution identified in this communication's signature line is authorized to purchase any and all of the Company's products and services now or in the future. Under no circumstance will this institution pay for any purchases not authorized by the undersigned without prior advance approval by the undersigned. Unless otherwised informed, the undersigned representative of [insert name of institutional entity] is the only person authorized to place orders for any and all of the Company's products and services charged to our Thomson Reuters accounts.
This is also to inform Thomson Reuter that all prior purchases will not be paid for because the Company failed to verify that the "purchaser" was authorized to execute a commitment expend this institution's funds unless that person is a signatory to this letter.
[Optional: In the attachment(s), matters highlighted in red have not been nor will be paid because the Company failed to verify authorization in advance. Matters highlighted in green have been paid but also were not authorized by this institution. Payment does not imply after-the-fact authorization. It only means that we did not want to have to deal with the collections people in Mumbai. Kindly see to it that we receive a refund check promptly. Credit to our account is unacceptable. Of course, if your Company's something like $12 billion credit line is not renewed this summer on favorable terms, we may be willing to loan you the money at a nominal 11.3% per year interest rate.]
If you have any questions regarding this matter, you may want to check with your employees.
cc: James C. Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Thomson Reuters
If charges still appear on your institution's monthly statement, just refuse to pay. Hell, you could even forget about notifying the Company in advance and just not pay all such YourAss charges. TR will understand because we are all "partners," right? Oh, my bad, perhaps only officials at AALL and Thomson Reuters are "partners."
"We have no special constitutional powers, unless you consider the extraordinary rights accorded every U.S. citizen by law, in which case we are amply empowered to go about our business." If enough (and I doubt it would take too many) BigLaw (toss in BigGov) buyers "boycott" TRI's OnePass-YourAss scheme by picking up the phone or putting TRI on notice in writing, David Thomson just might grab Jim Smith by the collar to say
"Let's go back up to my office and talk about this like two reasonable beings."
February 04, 2012
Guide to eBook Collections Identity eBook Providers Features
For the following eBook collection providers:
- ACLS Humanities E-Book
- Blackwell Reference Online
- Books 24x7
- EBSCO e-Books
- Hathi Trust
- National Academies Press
- Oxford Reference Online
- Oxford Scholarship Online
- Royal Society of Chemistry Ebooks Collection
- Safari Business Books Online
- Science Direct Ebook Collection
- Springer Ebooks Collection
- Wiley Online Library
Yes, no listing of our commercial legal publishers. They are still way behind the curve on this one. See Indiania University, Bloomington, Library's Using Electronic Book Collections for details. [JH]
November 28, 2011
Thank You LLMC. I Heart You!
Law journals seem to be taking the brunt of the space burden in the world of the shrinking library. My impression is that many libraries are tossing them, though there are some old fashioned librarians like me who are philosophically opposed to throwing out our legal scholarship without a comprehensive preservation plan in place - even if many think those articles are useless or impractical. From what I understand, the tossing libraries will depend on currently friendly commercial vendors like Hein Online, or the currency of SSRN.com, for future access. It really isn't the fault of the librarians. Tossing those titles is just the best of several bad choices that responsible librarians are being forced to make.
[Perplexing note: Dean wants Library space for law professors' offices so that they have a place to write more law journal articles that will be published in law journals that their library will buy and then throw out, or may not purchase at all.]
So what is LLMC doing that I find so wonderful? LLMC is saving the law journals. More importantly, and quite selfishly, they are saving my (my as in the UH Law Library) law journals. And, in a very James Bond sort of operation, are storing them in a salt mine 5 miles under the mantle of what us terrestrials call Kansas. Our journals will be neighbors to the Hollywood vault, financial institution 'stuff' and who knows what else people store in 50 foot salt bays that sit in a 42 acre underground storage facility made of NaCI.
I inherited this stroke of brilliance so I cannot take credit for it, but I will certainly benefit from it and so will you.
Right now, articles published from 1923 forward, are still in copyright. They cannot legally be scanned by LLMC to be added to their digital collections. But, they can take the paper copies and scan them year-by-year as they fall out of copyright (LIPA is responsible for the digital only journals that are now being produced by schools). The staff at the UH Law Library is diligently boxing up hundreds of volumes and the boxes are pilng up all over our staff space waiting to be carted over to Kaneohe across the island. Understandably, it is a slowish process but one to which we are all excited to contribute. (Well, I am excited but I'm not so sure about the students who are doing the labor.) And it frees me from having to make the hard decision about tossing legal scholarship produced by the academy, and hopefully, might make the decision a little less painful for others.
Along with taking over the stacks at the Richardson School of Law, comes a closer working relationship with LLMC. Closer physically, and professionally. I feel like we need to shed some PR on the good work this organization is doing with regard to preserving what many libraries are tossing in the dumpster - relying for one reason or another on commercial database vendors to replace print titles in favor of the latest space needs for the school. After JH's post last week (see Right-sizing Academic Law Library Print Collections), which summarized some of the problems with the tossing policy, I wanted to remind all of us that there are groups out there, like LLMC, who are fulfilling a mission that has traditionally been part of research library operations.
Some other current digitization projects include:
- Court records for California, New York (joint Google project re:Records and Briefs series) and South Carolina
- Inner Temple Manuscripts (12th to 20th Century Inns of Court materials)
- LLMC Native American collection
- Haiti Legal Patrimony Project
Take a look at LLMC's most recent newsletter for more information about these projects.
So thank you LLMC Staff, Board of Directors and members of the Advisory Council for your vision and good work. (VS)