There have been a number of reports recently on the theme of e-books, their use in libraries and their readers. First up are a couple of reports from the Library Journal: the first, on e-books in public libraries
tells us that the median collection size is now 7,380, which can be compared with 810 in 2010. On the other hand 2013 showed a slight decline in the increasing demand for e-books; only 42% of libraries reported a ‘dramatic increase’ in demand, compared with 79% in 2012. Circulation of e-books has continued to rise, however, with a 30% increase over 2012 (down from a 67% increase in the previous year). Spending on e-books has continued to rise, now standing at 6.1% of the budget for all libraries, and anticipated to rise to 13.2% by 2018 (something that I suspect will not actually materialise, as demand overall, appears to be flattening).
The report on school libraries
in the USA, shows that 56% of such libraries now offer e-books, but the scale if things is rather small, with the median collection consisting of only 136 items. 44% of school libraries, however, experienced a dramatic increase in demand for e-books. This is reflected in the estimates for the impact on the budget: currently, for all school libraries, e-books take up 4.0% of the budget, but, like public libraries, they expect a significant increase to 14.7% by 2018.
Whether or not the projected budget changes happen would seem to depend, at least to some extent on how young people respond to the e-book phenomenon. Another report
, inaccessible to me because of its £495 price tag, suggests that young people (in the UK, in this research) do not like e-books because,
they are too expensive,
you can’t touch them.
they don’t have an e-reader (almost 50%),
there’s nothing to ’show off’,
they don’t want to be slaves to technology – yet another thing to use a screen for.
But, 24% of those surveyed spend some money on e-books, but 13% of those spend less than £5 a month.
The final report I’d like to draw attention to surveys the situation in France – the “Baromètre 2014 de l’offre de livres numériques en France
” from the consultancy group, KPMG. This is devoted mainly to the publishing sector and shows that 62.5% of publishers are offering e-books, including all of the major publishing houses. Of those who do not, 38.1% plan to do so over the next three years. One of the main problems they perceive is that of obtaining the digital rights for the material and, equally, the costs involved. The ‘enriched’ e-books is fairly rare, only 2.9% of publishers report that their e-books are always ‘enriched’, with a further 8.6% saying that they are often enriched. However, ‘enrichment’ only means links to the Internet for 23% of the respondents and added video for 18% and added audio for 14.3%.
There’s much more of interest here from the publishing perspective, and it would be interesting to know as much about publishers in other countries. Our own survey of Swedish publishers is drawing to a close and the results are showing that the split between those who publish e-books and those who do not is about 50:50. Most suggest that the growth of e-book publishing will remain slow as at present in Sweden, and that the biggest driver of demand is the convenience and portability of the e-book. We’ll have more to report on this survey in due course.