Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
Lost in the debate about cannibalization, pricing, terms of access and the like between publishers and libraries is the rather basic question of how libraries can become a more significant source of revenue for trade Ebooks.
One way to sell such Ebooks to libraries is by offering the option to purchase one title at a time and so far the business models for distributors and aggregators are built to reflect that.
ebrary and its parent company, ProQuest, focus on scholarly electronic databases, scientific and technical Ebooks, as well as other flexible acquisition options such as usage-based publishing, short-term loans, and one title at a time. Until recently, trade Ebooks have been a modest part of their business model.
In order to offer an even wider selection of content for its customers, ebrary will introduce three trade ebook “bundles” sourced from RosettaBooks in January:
18 Kurt Vonnegut titles, led by Slaughterhouse-Five
35 Arthur C. Clarke titles, led by 2001: A Space Odyssey
30 Books into Film titles, led by Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Each Ebook within the collection has a list price of $13.99 (versus the retail digital list price of $8.99). The bundles consist of three copies of each Ebook and multiple copies of the “lead” title. The purchasing library “owns” the bundle. The titles are available for one use at a time. Price points per bundle vary but are usually over $1,000.
ebrary sells to over 4,500 library customers worldwide serving more than 19.2 million end-users.. When looking at the numbers, it’s clear that not many of those customers have to buy these bundles for the offer to become extremely successful.
Rather than get hung up on the debate between publishers and libraries it is far more interesting to experiment with models like these to see if libraries, publishers, authors and most importantly readers can benefit.