Giblin et al. (2019)
|Giblin et al. (2019a)|
|Title:||Available – but not accessible? Investigating publisher e-lending licensing practices|
|Author(s):||Rebecca Giblin, Jenny Kennedy, Kimberlee Weatherall, Daniel Gilbert, Julian Thomas, Francois Petitjean|
|Citation:||Giblin, R., Kennedy, J., Weatherall, K., Gilbert, D., Thomas, J. and Petitjean, F. (expected June 2019) Available – but not accessible? Investigating publisher e-lending licensing practices. Forthcoming, Information Research; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 19/20.|
|Key Related Studies:|
|Linked by:||Giblin et al. (2019b)|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||The study collected data concerning availability, price and licensing conditions for books made available via e-lending. This comprises three datasets: (1) a sample of 546 books across five key Australian aggregators (OverDrive, Bolinda, Wheelers, James Bennet and Bibliotheca), (2) a corresponding sample of the same titles in New Zealand, USA, UK and Canada based on data provided by an aggregator from each country, and (3) e-lending availability information on Australian bestselling books via one aggregator. Thereafter the study was supplemented with semi-structured interviews with five of the e-book aggregators featured in the datasets.|
|Data Type:||Primary data|
|Secondary Data Sources:|
|Data Collection Methods:|
|Data Analysis Methods:|
|Cross Country Study?:||Yes|
|Government or policy study?:||No|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:||
“Introduction: We report our mixed-methods investigation of publishers’ licensing practices, which affect the books public libraries can offer for e-lending.
Method: We created unique datasets recording pricing, availability and licence terms for sampled titles offered by e-book aggregators to public libraries across Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States and United Kingdom. A third dataset records dates of availability for recent bestsellers. We conducted follow-up interviews with representatives of 5 e-book aggregators.
Analysis: We quantitatively analysed availability, licence terms and price across all aggregators in Australia, snapshotting the competitive playing field in a single jurisdiction. We also compared availability and terms for the same titles from one aggregator across five jurisdictions, and measured how long it took for a sample of recent bestsellers to become available for e-lending. We used data from the aggregator interviews to explain the quantitative findings.
Results: Contrary to aggregator expectations, we found considerable intra-jurisdictional price and licence differences. We also found numerous differences across jurisdictions.
Conclusions: While availability was better than anticipated, licensing practices make it infeasible for libraries to purchase certain kinds of e-book (particularly older titles). Confidentiality requirements make it difficult for libraries to shop (and aggregators to compete) on price and terms.”
Main Results of the Study
Overall, availability of e-books is better than anticipated, with 76% of surveyed Australian titles being available from at least one e-lender. This figure varies across jurisdictions, with peak availability rates in the US (71%), as opposed to the lowest rates in the UK (59%).
Whilst the data is skewed towards newer titles, older titles are nonetheless more readily available, with peak availability for those published around 2000. This is not to the detriment of recent bestsellers which also appear to be made available quickly, with 49% being made available on the day of publication, and 26% being made available before.
However, the study cautions that e-lending availability is not correlated with accessibility, due to variations in licensing terms. Particularly, the uptake of time-limited licences may be problematic, a system which Australia, New Zealand and the UK all appear to favour. This may lead to counterproductive practices with older titles which, whilst culturally relevant, may have a smaller readership and thus be least likely to benefit from a metered availability. This may disincentivise library take-up rates for older titles. As such, whilst this model may be appropriate for high-demand titles, it appears to have a negative effect for older or lower-demand titles.
The study suggests that access to multiple licensing options may mitigate the problem of accessibility in e-lending. Whilst previous studies have found that libraries would prefer to select the appropriate licence option (Blackwell, 2017), only 6 of the 546 titles surveyed in this study granted this.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
Whilst the authors do not make any explicit policy recommendations, the study notes that further analysis will be undertaken employing a similar methodology over a larger dataset. Overall, the primary aim is to inform policymakers whether e-lending regulatory intervention is necessary.