ebook and audiobook lending

e-Book Reading on Smartphones in the Future?




The publishing world was turned upside down when the first e-books appeared 15 – 20 years ago.  The Kindle e-reader was not the first, but it is until now the most famous e-reader and helped Amazon to built their e-book imperium.  When you check out the 2015 e-book reader rating, one of the many Kindle types that are now on the market, the Voyage, is the “Gold Award Winner #1” for 2015. #2 is the NOOK GlowLight, then the Kobo Aura H20, and then another Kindle, the Paperwhite.  At least in North America these are the most popular e-readers.  In Europe it looks a bit different, at least in Germany, the Tolino is on its way to surpass the Kindle.

Contrary to early predictions, not the e-reader – but the smartphone will be driving the future e-book sales.

Tablets such as the iPad or the Kindle Fire are currently the most popular (41%) platform to read e-books, 11 % more than three years ago, but 3% less than last year. However it’s not e-readers that will be driving future books sales, it’s the phone. But people who read primarily on phones has risen to 14% in the first quarter of 2015 – from 9% in 2012, according to a Nielsen survey. And about 54% of e-book buyers said they used smartphones to read their books sometimes.

Meanwhile, those reading mainly on e-readers, such as Kindles and Nooks, decreased over the same period to 32% from 50%. Wattpad, the serial publishing platform, explains that phones are encouraging people to read more. 90% of their 40 million monthly users read on mobile devices. Nearly two-thirds of respondents who read on their phones said they do it, because they didn’t have their e-reader or tablet with them.

Reasons to Read on the Phone
It might be convenience. If you’re standing in line at the grocery store or the bus stop, waiting at the doctors or dentists office or riding home on the subway, you may not have a print book or an e-reader or tablet with you.  But chances are, you are carrying a smartphone.  And I have even seen people reading on their smartphones while pushing their baby’s strollers or walking their dog in the park – where certainly audiobook would be much more appropriate and practical.  Around 65% of American adults now own a smartphone, and predictions are that in a couple of years it will be over 80%
The size and clarity of new smartphone models, are making e-book reading easier – if you have good eyes I might add.  The release of the iPhone 6 series, Apple has seen an increase in the number of people downloading books through its iBooks app.  And among all new Amazon customers using Kindles or the Kindle app, phone readers are by far the fastest-growing segment.

Free Reading on SmartPhones at Trains and Airports
Publishers are now experimenting with ways to make themobile-reading experience better. They are designing book jackets with smartphone screens in mind. Simon &Schuster for example offers free e-books at hotels and airport lounges in New York, California, Missouri, Florida, Texas and Hawaii. Users can read as much of each book as they like forfree, while they stay within the prescribed geographical area. And Penguin Random House introduced free excerpts of e-books on Amtrak’s Acela Express trains. Online e-book retailers, such as Amazon, Google, Apple and Barnes&Noble offer smartphone apps for e-book reading.  They automatically sync all devices linked to the same account, so a reader can open an e-book on her phone and pick up exactly where she left off the night before on her e-reader or tablet.

The literary world is divided over whether a phone can deliver the experience of deep, concentrated reading. Scholars who study the subject note that smartphones are an important part of the effort to improve literacy in developing countries where books and computers are out of reach for many people. Reading on a phone is better than not reading at all, these experts all agree.

Drawbacks of Phone Reading
A neuroscientist who studies the reading brain: “For most people, a phone will make concentrated reading more difficult – if not impossible. It’s not as easy to share an e-book with friends as you can with print books. Many people still read in print part of the time. If deep, concentrated reading is possible despite the ringing, buzzing and alerts that come with phones – I am not sure. Phones will certainly not replace print books altogether. However, one should stop worrying about how other people are reading, and be glad that they are reading at all.

Phone Tips for eBook Readers
The blogger at EbookFriendly advises: “The underestimated power of smartphones is that they are great testing devices. If you want to try ebooks, it doesn’t mean you have to immediately buy a Kindle. Just get a free Kindle application for you mobile phone and you’ll learn – in no time – about all advantages of ebook reading.  Standard features of book reading applications are:

  • customization of font size and typeface
  • themes or backgrounds to choose from (at least day and night mode)
  • text highlighting, note taking, bookmarks
  • dictionary and reference
  • instant access to ebooks stored in your cloud library
  • syncing bookmarks and latest read locations
  • ability to add your own books

Book reading apps usually let you discover new books within the app. The exception is iOS, where this quite obvious feature is offered only by the Apple’s e-reading app iBooks. Find more tips on his blog. Smartphones are multi-purpose devices.  Reading ebooks will never be their primary purpose.  But they are extremely helpful in extending book reading to “not planned” places and circumstances.”  Read the article here.

What About Audiobooks?
The question is whether the phone is appropriate for long-form reading, if other options are available. Audiobooks are certainly an even better way of “reading” as you can listen to your favored book – hands-free – even if you are exercising in the gym or do intense gardening.  I personally love listening to audiobooks, especially on long road trips, when discerning radio stations are not available and I have listened too many times to the same CD’s.  In many cases, audiobooks have also proven successful in helping students to access literature and enjoy books.

More on this topic:
The best phone screens are listed in a Cnet.com article

Why digital reading before sleeping is not a good idea

How to conserve your smartphone battery



Selling Audio-Books and E-books to Libraries




How Do Libraries Get Their e-Books?
OverDrive, the main distributor to libraries has more than 1,000,000 e-book titles available and growing. They were the early pioneers in the digital lending space and developed the e-book lending systems used by most libraries today. Overdrive uses the same Adobe DRM (Digital Rights Management) system as Kobo, Sony, B & N and Google Books to protect files from piracy and manage the lending period of library e-books. Overdrive also offers a program called “Advantage” where individual libraries and library systems buy extra titles or copies to fill local demand.
Audio-Book and e-Book Lending Exploded
In these statistics you can see the tremendous growth in circulation numbers from just one library during the last years. In the meantime the numbers are much higher!

August 2005 – 231
August 2009 – 16,680
Nov. 2009 – 17,521 ——— 776
Jan. 2014 – 57,672 —– 191,303

Technology Challenges
Libraries face many challenges from setting up their internet infrastructure to the actual ebook license acquisitions. In regards to e-Books the initial problems were: staff training and learning how to use and upload e-Books to different devices. Integrating the titles into the library system’s online catalog took some time. Getting a download link from the catalog took even more time.

Trade Publishers are the Problem
Acquiring the ebooks, is a problem for most libraries because e-book licensing from trade publishers can cost as much as or more than a print book. Several publishers still refuse to sell to the library market. Other publishers are taking advantage on cost and “metering.” Random House will charge $83 for an eBook and Harper Collins has a 26-time checkout limit. Libraries “buy” the books, but ownership is determined by the vendor/publisher agreements. If a contract is not renewed will the library still own the titles?

The e-book library market is split between vendors and devices. Costs of content and administrative fees are increasing which can make e-books more expensive than print. Library users persevere because the rewards of checking out e-books from a library are tremendous with the ever-growing inventory of e-books. Yet there are usually a couple extra steps between checking the item out and loading it onto a device. Using an app does seem to solve a lot of this trouble.

Selling e-Books to Libraries
The Washington County Library System in Minnesota, United States, has been growing their e-book collection in the last few years. Their entire system is using an innovative method to develop their ebook portfolio. Local authors are encouraged to submit their own novels in electronic format to add to the existing library system using “Library Local Connect.”. A similar initiative is currently in place in Douglas County, Colorado, USA. This helps libraries to increase their online e-book portfolio and gives exposure to local authors.  Ask your library if they have a similar program.

Small Publishers
Overdrive downloads into the library catalog. However, as an author, if you’re interested in getting your ebooks into libraries, you have limited choices. They are explaining on their website:  “OverDrive delivers BEST-SELLING digital audio-books, eBooks, music, and video for download directly from a custom-built ‘Virtual Branch’ website. The world’s leading libraries, including New York Public Library, Toronto Public Library, and Singapore National Library, use OverDrive to deliver content to their patrons.” 

Which means dealing with the wholesaler/distributor OverDrive works only for authors who can proof great sales numbers. Hopefully sales to libraries will one day be commonplace.



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Tagged: ebook and audiobook lending, how to get your ebook into libraries, libraries, OverDrive, selling ebooks to libraries, trade publishers block ebook lending, Virtual Branch

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