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Posted for Birgitta Wallin

Gothenburg Book Fair took place on 22-25 September 2016 and I did two presentations on the first day. The first at Axiell’s stage and the second together with Professor Lars Höglund at The Swedish School of Library and Information Science stand.

At Axiell’s stage I presented the results of a survey with Swedish public libraries about e-books. Axiell is a company that provides libraries with technical solutions like BOOK-IT and is the main owner of Elib, the largest e-book aggregator in Sweden. picture-1At their stage, they had several presentations about e-media. There was a fairly large audience considering the competition of all other presentation and seminars going on at the same time. Interested librarians but also representative from publishers and Elib listened to my presentation.

The survey was sent to the 290 main public libraries in all municipalities in Sweden in May 2016 and 181 of them answered. This makes up a response rate of 63 per cent. All of the respondents mainly use Elib for provision of e-books at their libraries and some also use free internet services and other e-book aggregators like Overdrive.

The survey also shows that the majority of the public libraries set aside between 0 and 10 per cent of their total budget for e-books. Twenty-three of the respondents use between 11 and 30 per cent of their total budget for e-books. Even though some say that the entire budget is not always used, the libraries still need to set aside a sum to try to ensure that there is enough money to provide e-books for the library users for the entire year. Seventy-nine per cent of the respondents say that the budget is sufficient to meet the demand from the library users and 21 per cent say it is not sufficient. Budgetary restraints have led to some public libraries choosing not to provide e-books at all.

The public libraries have limitations in place in order not to exceed their budget. The most common limitation is two e-books a week for each library user, but also each e-book loan is limited to a maximum cost of 20-30 SEK. New and popular fiction can cost up to 200 SEK per loan and thus they will not be available at most libraries.

E-book lending is quite unevenly spread throughout Sweden. Two respondents have less than 0.1 per cent e-book lending, 49 respondents have between 0.1-1 per cent, 41 have between 1-2 per cent, 20 have between 2-3 per cent and 18 of the respondents have between 3-6 per cent. Looking at the number of e-book downloads during 2015 they vary between 25 at one public library up to 294,000 at another.

After the presentation several of the audience approached me with questions and expressed and interest to know more about my research and the e-book research project.

picture-2An hour later it was time for the second presentation which took place in the stand of the Swedish School of Library and Information Science. I did a short recap of the earlier presentation and answered some questions from the moderator Maria Ringbo. Professor Lars Höglund added some more research data from the e-book project, for instance on reading and library use.

We finished by promising to present a book from the e-book project at the Göteborg Book Fair in 2017.

Birgitta Wallin