Strengthening the Story: Library Influence on the Academic Book Business
Strengthening the Stor y: Librar y Influe nce on the Academic Book Business
Stephanie Church 0 1
0 Case Western Reserve University
1 Modern Language Association
Middlemarch: Working the Space between Libraries and Publishers
from page 16
techniques of predictive and
prescriptive analytics to feed intelligence back
upstream — into purchasing decisions,
perhaps even into publishing decisions?
Can we determine what characteristics
make a monograph useful — or at least
more likely to be used? Can we link
collection development decisions to
patterns of user demand? Can we
identify the availability of eBook alternates
to low-use print titles? As libraries
begin to share print book collections
more widely, can we learn to fine-tune
discoverability, to bring relevant options
into user workflows?
This begins to suggest what the next
generation of vendor intermediary might look
like — using analytics to support selection,
discovery, management, and delivery. At its
fullest implementation, such a vendor would
consolidate and analyze activity for books
and journals, print and electronic —
highlighting the value of the library’s “facilitated
collections” to its users and its funding body.
These are difficult tasks. Participants will be
fewer, and the span of functions wider and
more complex. But as higher education faces
questions about student outcomes, research
productivity, and the ROI on university
tuition, all academic units need to optimize and
demonstrate their contributions. Libraries
will need new kinds of support, including
evidence-based decisions on what content
to make available, and what to share, and
what to retain. Life in the space between
publisher and library will increasingly acquire
a quantitative dimension, raising the bar and
changing the game once again. But the game
These are early days in aggregating this
sort of data, and results should be viewed as
indicative rather than definitive. But they can
serve to guide us where to look more
carefully. And while collective data can suggest the
potential for managing print in new ways, each
library’s situation is different. It can be very
useful to have rich contextual data for one’s
own institution to inform print management
strategies; i.e., to determine which titles should
be retained, shared, stored, or withdrawn.
That’s where collection analytics vendors are
beginning to contribute now.
But the potential for deeper analysis is even
more intriguing, and it’s clear that many other
opportunities can be identified and pursued,
as the data gets richer. Now that it’s clear that
collection analysis can play a useful role, we’ll
begin to see additional innovation. For instance:
Can we develop and incorporate
monographs citation data, as an indicator
of scholarly resonance? Can we use
Strengthening the Story: Library Influence
on the Academic Book Business
by Stephanie Church (Acquisitions and Metadata Services Librarian, Case Western Reserve
Tmoving parts and libraries are one of
he academic book business has many
them. To hypothesize on the future, I
want to examine how libraries influence the
market today. Delving into what I see as a
librarian might help to give context to the
One major trend that has emerged and
will continue to gain traction in the world
libraries occupy is assessment. Assessment
is no longer a buzzword. More and more
Assessment Librarian positions are appearing
in academia. Librarians, in all areas of the
organization, are encouraged to contribute
to a culture of evidence-based application,
where strategic objectives are defined and
higher-level decisions influenced by specific,
measurable outcomes. Today, libraries need
to demonstrate their relevance, viability, and
value. These are no longer assumed on
campus. Assessment is essential for libraries to
make their case.
Libraries must prove and promote their
impact and their value to the greater academic
community. User-driven business models are
very attractive to libraries for these reasons.
Considering the push for use analysis and
justification of purchases, it is no wonder
Demand-Driven Acquisition (DDA) and
evidence-based initiatives have been so widely
accepted. By design, DDA allows the library to
focus purchasing on repeatedly used content or
titles requested by our constituency at point of
need, ensuring usage. DDA permits libraries to
offer a breadth of scholarly material to faculty
and students in a highly cost-effective way.
In my position at Case Western
Reserve university’s Kelvin Smith Library,
I conducted a
u s a g e - b a s e d
analysis of our
first foray into
DDA. One of
influential findings demonstrated that DDA eBooks
were eight times more likely to be used than
firm-ordered eBooks.1 Cost-per-use data
showed that we were spending roughly $14
per DDA eBook but over $100 for firm-ordered
eBooks. A staggering 73% of firm-ordered
eBooks had zero usage. This examination
has since folded into an analysis of aggregated
platforms and DDA models. We are looking to
expand our current contribution to DDA and I
expect to have higher-level discussions on firm
order practices and CWRu user preferences.
continued on page 20
Strengthening the Story ...
from page 18
Discoveries like this truly aid in strategic
decisions, by facilitating the discussion that
informs those decisions. This is a significant way
libraries can demonstrate fiscal responsibility
and build their case to administration, showing
why the institution should not only continue its
support, but increase investment in the library.
Aside from widening the amount of content
available to our users, the less time subject
specialists spend on selecting individual
titles, the more time they can spend on faculty
outreach and research assistance. I expect the
DDA trend to continue and grow, with
libraries dedicating larger portions of their budget
towards user-selected content.
Recent research is suggesting a trend in
general library budget growth. However this
reportedly modest increase is not necessarily
translating into addition funds for materials.2
With flat or in some cases decreasing materials
budgets, librarians have a responsibility to
make conscientious collection management
Collection development policies may be
another area of future growth and change.
If libraries have not reviewed these policies
recently, this is a perfect time to revisit what
we collect and why we collect. On a macro
and micro level, there are so many questions to
answer. Is our library collecting for posterity?
What format do we purchase and why? Do
we have a preferred aggregated eBook
platform? How much funding should go towards
user-driven initiatives? Will these decisions
affect our consortia? Do we fulfill faculty format
requests if that means duplicating content? The
list goes on and on, and I foresee libraries
making even more of an effort to focus purchasing
of monographic content in ways that align
with strategic goals. Revisiting the collection
policy, with the greater library community’s
assistance, will only help to strengthen the story
a library tells to administration.
When it comes to the format discussion,
the physical book is here to stay. With studies
published on exhaustive reading, the
correlation between screens and reduced retention,3
and the often expressed tactile joys of using a
physical book, it is impossible for me to see
a future entirely empty of them. There is still
very much a need and desire for academic
book use in its physical form, particularly in
Even so, without question, purchasing of
physical scholarly monographs has declined
over the past several decades. Studies and
surveys4 have indicated this for quite some
time. Anyone using OCLC Connexion Client
can see this purchasing shift in action.
Institutional holdings indicate that eBook titles are
on the rise and often surpassing physical book
holdings, sometimes by a factor of six over
the print. While consortial-level buying data
may inflate these numbers (KSL does not add
holdings for shared purchases), this is
nonetheless an important purchasing movement that
warrants more discussion.
In physical books, one of my pain points
in acquisitions is obtaining out-of-print and
hard-to-find material. I expect that buying
physical copies of titles published decades ago
will be challenging. But in this day and age,
why should it be just as hard to buy a book
from five years ago? I am not well versed in
the expense and gamble publishers take on
titles and their print runs, or the business side
of what it would take, but I do hope to see more
print-on-demand content available. While
there is a case to be made regarding general
appearance and the integrity of the physical
book in its original form, what our users and
researchers are truly after is content. They
want to absorb that content and synthesize
ideas into their own work. Libraries want
to provide their users with exactly what they
need. Content is a huge driver in what libraries
purchase. Sometimes librarians have a say in
which format is best for constituents, but not
always, since monographs are not necessarily
available in the preferred format.
In the past few years, publishers have
experimented with eBook pricing and they continue
to test the market. Successful business models
have emerged that seem sustainable for both
publishers and libraries. We are starting to see
more of a trend with publisher platforms offering
content with less restrictive or even no DRM,
and with unlimited user access. Journals have
offered unrestrictive article downloads and other
user-friendly options for years and it is
refreshing to see these practices rolled into the world
of eBooks. It is what our faculty and students
are accustomed to and they have a reasonable
expectation to want equitable access in eBooks.
Some publishers even go as far as to offer
capabilities and assistance with text and data mining
projects. These are incredible strides in our
industry. Unfortunately these instances, so far,
are the exception and not the rule.
In the future, I hope to see more publishers
on aggregated platforms allowing for
DRMfree chapter downloads, unlimited printing, and
simultaneous usage. Is this too much to ask?
Maybe. But we are starting to see discussion
that open access “may no longer be a pressure
point on commercial publishing”5 on the
periodical front. With continued discussion and
collaboration, I am optimistic that this could
have a residual effect on eBooks.
Why am I optimistic? Because successful
open access initiatives are emerging. One such
enterprise is Knowledge unlatched (Ku).
Established by Frances Pinter and first
introduced at the Charleston Conference in 2010,6
Ku harnesses buying power on a global level.
It is a way for libraries, publishers, authors, and
readers to join forces for the greater good of
scholarly achievement through open access.
Hundreds of universities in 24 countries
participated in the initial pilot, sharing the cost
to make 28 frontlist titles from 13 publishers
universally available. Pilot assessment
findings indicated that titles were downloaded
worldwide on average over 1,000 times per
week.7 Ku has a truly global impact, with
library buy-in and interest growing.
continued on page 21
relatively small user base, especially in
comparison to our budget. In fiscal year 2015, we
spent about $129 per student on monographs
in all formats (including DDA). Also, we have
fortunately had budget increases that match
journal inflation for several years in a row.
The Z. Smith Reynolds Library serves about
6,200 students, and the total student FTE at
Wake Forest is about 7,600. Since the DDA
model is fundamentally a pay-per-use model,
a lower number of potential users most likely
equates to a lower total consumption of books.
continued on page 21
Alternatives to Demand-Driven Acquisition: An
Exploration of Opportunity Costs
by Carol Joyner Cramer (Head of Collection Management, Wake Forest University) <>
Ias an option, or simply no longer meets our
f Demand-Driven Acquisition (DDA) dies
needs, what would we do instead?
The Z. Smith Reynolds Library at Wake
Forest u niversity provides an all-you-can-eat
smorgasbord for our DDA profile with EBL.
We currently offer about 170,000 titles. We
do not exclude books based on publication
date, publisher or subject. We assert that
topic areas not covered by our curriculum
(e.g., agriculture) will see extremely low use
anyway. Therefore, we do not want to waste
time pulling those topics out of our pool. On
the other hand, if the occasional agriculture
book gets used, then hooray, we have served
a user without resorting to ILL. However,
we do systematically exclude popular and
juvenile works (as those categories are defined
by YBP) and books with a Short-Term Loan
(STL) cost of more than $200/day. We also
de-duplicate against other eBook providers
in our collection. However, we de-duplicate
against print only in cases where the STL cost
We can provide such a wide-ranging buffet
because we have a healthy book budget and a
Strengthening the Story ...
from page 20
There are other ways librarians try to influence the world of academic
book buying. There was a discussion on the SERIALIST listserv recently
on electronic resources and how libraries handle platforms that require
an additional user login beyond IP authentication. When the choice is
available, librarians are actively avoiding platforms and providers that
require additional hoops for users to jump though. While additional steps
may not stop serious researchers, it is a huge deterrent for undergraduates
who could easily confuse the extra steps as restricted access. This is a
lose-lose-lose-lose situation for the reader, author, publisher, and library.
Librarians don’t want to create adversarial relationships with
publishers and vendors, but we are aware that our purchases are powerful.
Our purchases speak for library user needs as well as for philosophical
beliefs. We will continue to navigate the changing landscapes of
technology and economics by developing successful strategies driven by
Librarians are speaking up in a way that is new to the profession. We
are telling our story on an administrative level by demonstrating fiscal
responsibility and by a concrete, measurable commitment to the
university’s goals. We share our stories with other librarians and colleagues,
building upon best practices, forming partnerships, and making our story
stronger. We also want to share our stories with publishers, vendors,
and aggregators, explaining the “why” behind individual purchasing
decisions and larger purchasing patterns. With continued discussion and
collaboration and mutual listening as a first step, together we can build
a future that works for everyone in the business of academic books.
However, the dramatic DDA price increases and publisher embargoes
seen since 2014 have led us to ponder — is there a better way? Should
we spend our money differently?
I did a thought experiment to explore other ways we could spend
our DDA money. I made two fundamental assumptions: (
) our overall
buying power will remain unchanged, and (
) the money we are currently
not spending on DDA will continue to be spent exactly as it is today —
i.e., this is not an opportunity to cut the budget. Notably in our case, our
statewide consortium NC LIVE subscribes to ebrary’s Academic
Complete and Public Library Complete on our behalf. Therefore, I did not
explore making more investments in the subscription model. For now, I
focused solely on cost-per-use and ignored other factors, e.g., user
experience factors, that might make a more expensive choice more desirable.
Instead of looking strictly at actual cost-per-use, this thought
experiment speculates about what might happen with hypothetical
future purchases, based on actual data on user behavior with our
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1. Church , Stephanie. “ Assessing DDA : Measuring Success for Strategic Objectives .” Case Western Reserve University. Kelvin Smith Library, October 2015 . Web.
2. Peet , Lisa. “Gaining Ground Unevenly.” Library Journal 141.2 ( 2016 ): 28 . Web .
3. Jabr , Ferris. “ The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: the Science of Paper versus Screens .” Scientific American (4 April 2013) . Web.
4. “Academic Library Book Purchasing Trends.” Proquest December 2015 . Web.
5. Bosch , Stephen, and Kittie henderson. “Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' on.” Library Journal 140.7 ( 2015 ): 30 - 5 . Web.
6. “Knowledge Unlatched. ” Wikipedia, 25 February 2016 , Web.
7. Montgomery , Lucy. “ Knowledge Unlatched: A Global Library Consortium Model for Funding Open Access Scholarly Books . ” Cultural Science Journal 7.2 ( 2014 ): 1 - 66 .