Engelberg Center Live!

Exploring the Anti-Ownership Ebook Economy: How Libraries Handle Ebooks

Episode Summary

This episode is the "How Libraries Handle Ebooks" panel from our Exploring the Anti-Ownership Ebook Economy event. It was recorded on October 27, 2023.

Episode Notes

Episode Transcription

Announcer  0:01  

Welcome to engelberg center live a collection of audio from events held by the engelberg center on innovation Law and Policy at NYU Law. This episode is the how Library's handle ebooks panel from our exploring the anti ownership ebook economy event. It was recorded on October 27 2023.


Jennie Rose Halperin  0:26  

Hi, everybody, we're gonna go ahead and get started. So thank you so much for coming. I'm Jenny rose helper and I'm from library futures here at the NYU engelberg center. I also want to make sure that we think Claire, Michael Katrina, the catering stop of NYU and everybody who helped make this conference possible. I want to also make sure that we send some healing vibes toward Kyle Kay Courtney, and Jason and Sarah, who couldn't make it today. And wanted to point everyone's attention to we have some new swag from library futures, which is a coloring book and bullet journal, with a text written by Julia Skeena. And Kyle Kay Courtney in the back of it, which is a policy paper because everyone knows that when you're taking some notes that you also want to read a policy paper. But there's there are excellent illustrations and a very concise explanation of some of the issues that we all work on here in the journal. So thank you. We have an amazing panel today we have carmy Parker, who is a librarian with Whatcom country County Library System. She also serves on the executive committee of the Washington Digital Library Consortium, a partnership of 45 public libraries that supply 830,000 residents of Washington State with digital books. She is honored to be named a 2021, mover and shaker by Library Journal and to be a guest faculty member with the University of Washington Information School. Prior to library school, she worked for 13 years as a project manager with Microsoft Grammy also gave excellent feedback on the text of the journal that you all picked up. So thank you. carmy. Mica may serves as Director of ebook services for the Digital Public Library of America and leads the palace marketplace. DPLA is a marketplace for library ebooks and audiobooks. The palace bookshelf DPLA is collection of free ebooks and delays other ebook related services including the Publishing's experiments, such as the Muller report and impeachment papers. Before joining DPLA. Micah was Director of Strategy and then senior director of business development and innovation at the New York Public Library. Kathleen regal helped is the director E reading for the New York Public Library. In this role, she is responsible for developing and evaluating NYP ELLs, e reading strategy for all library patrons and across both popular and scholarly materials. And with aligning NYPL is E reading technology development within broader institutional strategies and investments before that. And Kathleen served on the NYPL digital policy team where she provided decision making and analytical support for digital policies, investments and activities across branch and research library services. So thank you so much, everybody, for coming. So just before we start, I just want to do a little bit of context setting. So how many of you have talked to somebody about library ebooks? And you've said, like overdrive and getting ebooks and they've looked at you very confused, and then you've said Libby, and then the answer has been Oh, I love Libby. Right. So how does this happen? Because this Yes, of course. So overdrive is a 90% of all libraries, which is really why it's so excellent that we have folks like Micah here to talk about library ebooks in the current climate. And in the paper, they say that there's some pretty unsighted analysis that says that library lending accounts for 13% of Publisher revenues and 50% of units downloaded. But it's really unclear where this data comes from. And if there's one thing that this day has really shown us is that there's really a prevalence of Anak data and anecdotal evidence to cast aspersions on libraries and public access to content. So all three of these these folks who are on the panel are incredibly knowledgeable about data. And I'm excited to dig into it. The last thing I just want to contact set about is then we're talking about libraries. Today on this panel, we're primarily talking about public libraries, much like there are myriad publishers and as somebody said this morning that are each their own monopoly. There are myriad libraries, special libraries, large public library, small public libraries, law libraries, corporate libraries that are absolutely not their own tiny monopoly. But because we have a short time, I just wanted to make sure that we framed the discussion. So my first question for all of you, is to walk me through the process of how libraries, acquire, provision, and sometimes preserve accession D accession digital materials


Carmi Parker  5:01  

Hello, thank you, I want to add my thanks to NYU for putting together a really fun and interesting event today. accessioning process, we have 45 Tiny to medium size libraries. The tiniest is an island library with 600 people. We also have wheat farmer libraries in Lincoln County in eastern Washington where the median income is less than 50,000. For households. So that's kind of giving you an idea of what what we're looking at the 45 libraries, choose books. The basically the the larger about the 10, or 12 of the larger libraries do the book choices, we have selectors who also do print selection, they go into overdrive marketplace, and buy one copy of whatever it is that they want to add to the collection. And then added copies are based on demand and overdrive tools for automatically adding copies based on patron interest. We do not deaccession anything at all, this is quite different than print where something that hasn't circulated in quite a while kind of doesn't needs to earn it shelf space or go to better world books. Upstate, you know, happy farm. And with the digital collection, so much of it expires, I think about 63% of our total collection is metered, which means it expires after two years or less. So what happens when that for our patrons is that when something expires, our patients will still find it in the catalog, they'll still find it in Libya. And if they then tell us they want it, then we buy an extra copy. We also as a Public Library Consortium don't really have any real preservation scenarios. But I think that that may change are interested in that may change. Because of audio. There's an enormous amount of content that is born digital on audio, no, there is no physical equivalent, CD audiobooks on CD are going away. And since digital will be the only format in which some of these books are available, preservation is going to become interesting within the next three to five years.


Kathleen Riegelhaupt  7:37  

So I think, for New York Public Library, I would say you know, kind of to Jenny's point, digital collections for which collections for which patrons, what are we collecting, there's just a real diversity of our digital collecting policies, processes, and retention. So for our branch libraries for our circulating collections, it's very similar to how Hermie described it. We licensed materials on a metered basis, there are many different kinds of metered licenses. I think, you know, we the challenge is that it is not a perpetual collection, it is metered, meaning it will go away, it will expire, there's not deaccessioning there. So at any given moment, we have to either know what of our titles have expired, where there's demand and kind of be on top of that, it's not that you buy one copy, and then you know, at some point, we realize that we need another copy. So I would say the difference for New York Public is nearly 10 years ago, we did develop and we still maintain our own e reading app simply e so we can buy content from different vendors, and provide it through simply e that is where a patron discovers and you know, plays holds on and read their ebooks. So the value in that is that we are not limited to one vendor, we have the opportunity to buy from different vendors, we're not locked in. Our patrons still do have access to patron to the vendor platforms a lot do use Libby, some are using the Cloud Library. But for us the utility is that the we're hopefully maintaining pay for and privacy which is a big part of simply but also we are not locked into the vendor. on the research side of the house, it's very different. Our research eBooks are purchased perpetual Access Licenses, that is most of the scholarly content is available. I think the you know, we do not own that copy. It is held by the publisher with a backup copy in portico. So that is a dark archive it is for preservation purposes important. But on that side of the house again, it's not necessarily focused on the front list, right? We understand that the research collections it's much more important to have the longer term access to a longer tail of materials. So I'd say the challenge there is just that most content in the research collections is not available in IE, it's a much smaller percentage of the collections that are available that way.


Micah May  10:11  

I don't know if I need to add too much to that since both of these folks actually, you know, select books for libraries. I will say a couple of highlight a couple of things. I think one thing that is important, in case anyone here is not familiar is the the palace project exists as a nonprofit library driven alternative platform. So you know, back to guy's really insightful comments in the first panel. The goal of that from its inception has been to provide a tool for libraries to negotiate better terms with publishers that serve both parties, but that worked better for libraries, and to, you know, have a tool for that, that they can control, and to remove some of the potentially conflicting incentives for distributors in the middle that aren't always aligned with libraries interests. So that's exciting. It's not just for public libraries, as Rob Cardano will tell you, it's been rolled out at Columbia, here at NYU, and is, you know, growing in the academic space as well. So we're, I think, some of the same value proposition and basically making it easy for patrons to find all of the library's ebooks in one place and giving the library a lot more control over curation, aggregating sources from different places, putting the library basically back and control their digital shelves, is relevant to all kinds of libraries. And there are a number of state libraries and consortia also participating. I think that we're currently described and was described earlier, in terms of sort of typical workflows for acquiring ebooks is really important, and something that ideally, should evolve. And that is the automatic buying based on holds ratios. That you know, in many cases, libraries are buying one copy of a title, or selecting a title and then buying future copies based on host ratio, so you know, they're trying to maintain five holds per copy, for example. And the result, I think, which is really problematic, is a very inelastic demand curve, right. So if you're going to buy all books at the same holds ratio, then the incentive to the publisher is basically to put a very high price on a very unattractive license, because you're going to get more revenue from that. And so while I think sometimes libraries feel like they are, you know, beholden to patron demand, and the victim of unattractive offerings from publishers, I think there's more that libraries can potentially do to shape that demand curve differently, and provide publishers with better incentives to offer something more attractive and actually introduced some competition into the market. Now, that's not to say libraries are going to completely stop buying best sellers. But you could buy them at a less attractive holds ratio. So for example, I'm going to steal karmi can talk about work that they are doing to maintain for different tiers of holds ratios based on the cost of the title, which I think is really an important insight, and could really reshape demand in a different in an important way, that gives publishers incentives to be more competitive with what they're offering.


Jennie Rose Halperin  13:17  

Thank you so much. And so I'm going to kind of latch on to this question of price price come comes up a lot and is Carmi said, up to 66% of materials that her library system buys expire in two years, or is Ellen Paul of the Connecticut Library Association calls it is it's like buying, it's like spending money on a road. And then having the road expire in two years just goes away. Which is kind of a if you compare it to owned owned things, it's kind of a confusing landscape. So I'm actually wondering if you all can can talk a little bit about price and licensing and whether or not it is ever a good choice, or if it's sort of just the way that business is done. And also how this relates to the readers first quote that over the past 20 years, it's kind of felt like we've taken a giant step backward, when it comes to the kinds and types and varieties of licensing that are even available to libraries.


Kathleen Riegelhaupt  14:21  

So I would just I do think, you know, the that that analogy of like a road would go away in two years. If you took that a little further, if that was the case, you would just spend money to build major roads between major destinations and you would not have roads in in rural areas as far as and that's sort of what happens, right that then you know, is we're incentivized to spend our money on frontlist popular titles. We wouldn't have kind of that perpetual access in these trade presses for circulating books to books that have a longer shelf life but need maybe not that high interest demand. If we buy 52 lens for a book that maybe only might be borrowed five times. Well, that actually doesn't look Like a great investment for us, but then the patron who would read that book otherwise is left out. Or if they would read it 10 years from his publication date, something that happens in print books, that's a disincentive for us to do that. So I think if they're, you know, licensing frontlist titles, that, you know, we would have more copies that, you know, for a shorter period of time, that makes sense, but having perpetual access copies for other, you know, for one copy that that would be a benefit for the libraries to build a collection that's used in a similar way.


Carmi Parker  15:33  

I think Licensing can be extremely beneficial. And I think that publishers have only just begun to explore the possibilities. One sort of thing that libraries will talk about quite a bit is being able to do a really, really cool community book events. So NYU a couple years ago did braiding sweetgrass, which everyone should read, if you have not read, look at me doing free marketing for publishers. And milkweed is an independent publisher, I should add that the perpetual copy of the digital book for this is 18 bucks. We bought it years ago, and we have lots of copies of it because it's reasonable. So those are some of the ways where Licensing can work. But in general, my main concern with licenses is that, Functionally, they're being treated as a legal way for publishers, and distributors, to kind of write their own copyright. So at University of Washington, you can search the U DUB library's catalog and look for any book and click a link that says, show me the license. And the license information there will tell you, is this book allowed to be IOL? Yes or no? Which isn't something that happens with the print book. It will tell you is this allowed? does this allow fair use? Does the license allow fair use? Yes or no. And those are the kinds of things that make me extremely concerned over the long term about the licensing scheme. The short term pricing Pricing is definitely a problem in the in the short term, but over the long term, I think we're really going to need some regulation to kind of claw copyright back.


Micah May  17:42  

Yeah, that's, I would add to that. A couple things. So yes, I think Licensing can sometimes help libraries meet demand in a more efficient way. So for example, the palace marketplace has lots of titles with a model redeveloper, the library gets 40 lens, and you can use up to 10 of them at the same time. So that's kind of trying to strike this balance between fair to the publisher, it will eventually have to be repurchased. It's not an unlimited access. But you know, you can also use them up 10 at a time, so you can meet demand more quickly. There's also lots of different models out there for simultaneous use, which can be attractive, as Claire mentioned, the small bundle of five loans five at a time, which allow library to kind of try out a different book. So I think there are ways in which Licensing can be okay, and actually take advantage of digital in some ways that could be beneficial. Ideally, I think that does not replace perpetual access or potentially ownership. So I think those things can coexist. Ideally, I guess in terms of price, I will just say, I think that there's a real again, there's an opportunity, you know, when I think about what libraries can do about this problem, it really comes back to creating a better marketplace in terms of demand. And that I think stems from curation. So within simply within palace and to some degree within other commercial apps, libraries do have some control over discovery. And if you can make sure that available titles are at the top of the discovery experience. So within apps, or reading environments, where patrons are finding books, that you're bubbling out titles that are available, and ideally that the libraries have picked, then you can shape the demand curve to drive attention to those books. And if libraries take control of their shelves in that way, then I think there is an opportunity, and particularly with independent publishers, and here when I say independent, I really mean anyone other than the Big Five, because we focused a lot on the, you know, not great licensing terms offered by most of the big five right now. But as soon as you get outside the Big Five, most publishers actually are offering a perpetual one at a time license, which is, you know, functionally somewhat similar to ownership and that at least allows library access in perpetuity and in Many cases, they're offering a variety of licensing models for libraries to choose from and to mix and match. And these are not necessary tiny publishers. So thinking about the community reads project, that Carmi site is an example. You know, we facilitated those for a number of partners, including, like, Connecticut State Library, for example. And you know, Scholastic, which has a lot of big books, especially for young adults and children, offered a fabulous bundle of simultaneous uses to facilitate that project. So, you know, you don't have to go to tiny publishers, I also think many really good books are brought to the market by smaller publishers. So, you know, to the degree that libraries can really acquire mid list and indie publishers and bubble those up in the discovery interface, so that they're borrowed. That is, I think, going to be the best way libraries can shape the market and provide incentives. And then ultimately, those of us who are in conversation with big publishers can go back to them and say, Hey, we think you're missing out in sales. Because your model is too expensive or not attractive, you know, you should offer something better, until libraries change that behavior, it's harder to make that argument. So I do think there's more, you know, more libraries can could do, if they really are willing to take take charge of that digital shelf in the way that they do in their print branches, right, we would never libraries would never let vendors come in and like choose the books that go on the front staff picks pay, you know, shelf in their physical branch. And yet, that's effectively what we sometimes do in terms of deferring to vendors to provide discovery in our digital services.


Kathleen Riegelhaupt  21:31  

Do you mind if I just just responding to what Comey said to I think there's, you know, kind of focused on the, the IOL. And the contract limitations we're facing and the restriction on copyright, I will say that's something we're really grappling with as a research library. For long term access for preservation if we are limited, you know, we have exemptions as libraries in copyright law, but without control of the file without actual ownership of the file. We're beholden to whoever has that file to permit us to act in that way, right? Can we, you know, take advantage of fair use any of the ways that libraries can preserve or use materials as exemption to copyright law, you know, we're, we were just beholding it's in good faith that whoever has access to file would let us do that, and what liability they're willing to take in that case, as opposed to making that decision for ourselves and for our patrons. So I do think that's actually, in terms of digital ownership are really critical, long term question for the fields.


Jennie Rose Halperin  22:30  

Yeah. And so building from this question of preservation, and the kinds of innovations that were mentioned in the first panel, and the kinds of innovations that we're seeing, I'm curious what kind of changes you think need to be made to the platforms and the ways that they serve materials and content, particularly for you mica is somebody who lead really leads development on a platform in order to build a better digital lending environment for libraries. And, you know, from our perspective, in certain ways, you know, we're seeing some innovations being tried control, digital lending, for example, is currently being litigated. And, you know, from a preservation point of view, and we'll hear from Michelle Wu, who wrote the paper on control, digital lending, and the next panel, you know, from from an innovative preservation point of view, while it doesn't replace ebooks, it can be a solution for long term preservation for libraries. But of course, there are other kinds of ways that libraries work within and also innovate around and within the system that exists, you know, what are you seeing that you're excited about? What are you seeing that's changing? And what do you think has to happen in order to mitigate some of the worst effects of the licensing and platform economies that have grown up around library lending?


Micah May  23:51  

Okay, so I mean, I guess I'll just disclose, it's hard for me not to promote Palace a little bit in this context, because that's what I work on. And I think that, you know, was born out of the library simplified process at NYPL, that I was part of, because of exactly this need, we felt like libraries needed a platform, they could have more control over. So I guess, I think one thing that, you know, I have to say is, I think more libraries should get involved with that, and or, you know, start their own similar initiative where they do have control of that platform. I think in the long run, libraries are going to be very ill served by outsourcing their digital service and being disintermediate from their users. And, you know, it really will raise the question eventually why municipalities don't just directly pay the vendors, and what the libraries are adding in the middle. So I think that's really essential. We have to get to scale in terms of library driven solutions. You know, those solutions are open source libraries that were motivated could take them and run them themselves or mix and match them. I would love to see a broader ecosystem of library driven options. So I think that's, I think that's an important part of this. I think one thing that gives me A lot of hope in that regard is the involvement of academic institutions in that space that can bring a different level of potentially resource. So I mentioned already Rob 's work at Columbia and NYU, the lead team is here, from UC and I think, deeply exploring how UC should be serving digital content. Those projects are really exciting, because the possibility of getting academic libraries, public libraries, state libraries, and large consortia all kind of working in the same direction, I think could help reach much more scale, you know, it's always going to be I think, unfortunately, a little bit of a David and Goliath situation, you know, the scale of resources that companies like overdrive have is different than the scale of resources that nonprofits and public institutions at least easily have at their, at their fingertips to invest in these things. And so to some degree, we are going to be playing catch up. And I think, you know, we need libraries to invest also, not only financially, but time in using these systems, even if in some ways, they might be a little more clunky, because they see the philosophical importance of having control of their services and the library driven option. I guess I'll say one thing that I'm also excited about, and this might be a little pearl, you know, premature, but I actually think that, you know, these systems like palace could be a path to a different sort of vision for library ownership. So Jenny yesterday convened a small group to kind of workshop a model I've been playing with, we don't have any publishers signed on to this yet. But I actually think for many publishers, granting libraries ownership could be they would would be palatable, if especially if it comes with a model, where the libraries don't necessarily have to take possession of files, maybe they could if they wanted to, but they would have the option to host those with a third party provider. So I mean, that's a model that I'm exploring, and I would really hope to be able to launch I think, you know, the Douglas County project was mentioned earlier, I think by guy, and you know, that didn't work out great in terms of libraries, building the infrastructure to host their own ebooks, apply DRM. And I think more importantly, the operational challenge of indexing Onyx fees from publishers. And taking this sort of continue. I mean, it's a lot of work, you need full time staff to manage that kind of back end. And for most libraries, that's not worth investing in. So I think it would be exciting to explore models where libraries have ownership. And they can also keep things they own with a third party that can provide some of that scale of the technology back end, kind of like keeping valuables in a safety deposit box where you have the option to take them home, if you really feel up for it. But you don't necessarily plan to do that in the day to day course of business. So I'll leave it there for a minute.


Kathleen Riegelhaupt  27:53  

So I think, you know, I would just say for New York Public having control of our own platform, having our own technology and being able to see into it has been really valuable for us. We can create lists, we can put books that, you know, we still have lens available in front of patrons on that's really valuable for us. We have direct data on our patrons, we can now do more to understand who's borrowing ebooks in our service area versus who's borrowing print books, and what is the equity? What are the equity issues there? What collections, you know, we just no more. So I think that's really valuable for us. I think the opportunity to work with different vendors, to work with different publishers is actually really important for us, and we can be in more control on the research side. And maybe even in the press side soon. We've, I think seen a real opportunity on a project of my colleague Greg cram and I are working on to get access to backless titles. These are we're working right now with academic presses, a university presses to provide digital access through the New York Public Library to backless titles that are not otherwise available digitally. We really see an opportunity here, these are not titles that we can purchase. These are not commercially available, but they're important to our researchers. So we are negotiating for licenses between presses and the library to make that material available. In the case where publishers or the author do not know if they have the rights, we're just seeking kind of permission from either and both. And we'll kind of just assume that liability for making those works available on our site. Again, our our thought is that most parties here really want these works available. They shouldn't be hidden. They shouldn't just be available on a shelf for someone who can come to the library in our opening hours. So we're putting them online, we're sharing data about how they're available, how they're used. And if a title takes off, and it's really commercially viable, then we will you know kind of pull that out of this collection and if it's for sale, we'll buy it that's what we do. We buy frontlist title so I think those are kind of things where you We're really excited about I think just how can we use the opportunity of digital to make more things available to more people. And you know, kind of not be limited to what we've seen happen, you know, sort of frontlist and that kind of thing.


Carmi Parker  30:15  

It's just briefly, someone said last panel, I'm not a technologist. I am a technologist. And I am optimistic about the possibility of moving toward technical solutions like palace or other platform type solutions that we might need. Partly because we already do this. So in Washington and Oregon, we have the Orbis cascade Alliance among the all the academic libraries, and they share an ILS a library database for the catalog and for tracking patron checkouts, and they share parts of the catalog. So we are ready do do adopt together certain technical solutions. And that's never easy to do. But we do already pool money so that we can buy big solutions, we figure out how to make you know, I don't know how many. I think there's 90 libraries in the Orbis cascade Alliance. Each was slightly different desires, they each want their catalogue to look a certain way. Right. There are lots of requirements, but it's achievable.


Jennie Rose Halperin  31:41  

So I have one more question. So everybody should get their questions ready. My last question is asking a very similar question that I asked during the privacy panel, which is how does access to digital books play out in the current climate of censorship and restrictions. So just to give a couple of weeks of examples, just last week, Scholastic had introduced a, like, basically, you had the option to restrict diverse books from your book fair. And due to public outcry, outcry, that program was thankfully ended, and carmy led the Macmillan boycott, a number of years ago. And so the question is not only how does access to digital books play out in the current current climate of censorship and restriction, but how can advocacy and how can both library and also individual advocacy support a more robust, diverse and equitable digital landscape for the largest number of people?


Micah May  32:44  

I mean, I guess I can start on that one. In terms of how digital books play out in the context of censorship, I think they present a real opportunity. So I would highlight two projects. One DPLA is the banned book club, which launched in this this past summer, in is providing access to most of the books that have been banned in the specific places they've been banned. And that's really only possible digitally, right, it would be very, very hard to go figure out how to ship print books to all of those places, where are you going to store them, but we can use the basically virtual library card technology to authenticate, I see that you're in this county, that county has been books, you have access to the collection of about 1000 Of the roughly 1500 unique titles that have been removed, the ones that are not in there, it's mostly because they haven't been produced as ebooks. So there's children's books, there's art books, so they're not all available. Another similar project is a fabulous project, which has been out for over a year now from the Brooklyn Public Library called books on band had many of you probably know about. Seattle recently joined that project, as well as Boston. So a number of big libraries are and through that project, young adults specifically, can basically send an email and request access and basically get a library card for those libraries who have many of the titles that are offered. So I think those are two examples of how digital books and Digital Access is provides us some really powerful tools to push back against censorship, and provide access where it's needed most. And we would welcome you know, others joining us in those projects. So the University of Chicago recently partnered with DPLA, to make that available across the entire state of Illinois, and is going to help us track down some of those books that we don't yet have any to try to have a really complete research archive. I think there's more work that needs to be done in terms of the data, which has been aggregated by this woman teslim Magnusson, who's in every library fellow, and works with Penn. She's done heroic work, but could use help in really making this data about book bands and book challenges available as like linked open data set, you know, and then more libraries joining in that so maybe I'll pause there and see what the other panelists have to say on this topic.


Kathleen Riegelhaupt  34:59  

And Yeah, I think you know, we've done something similar to the to the books on Bandha. And the the band book club. Through simply we have a books for all library, anyone can download the simply app and access, we have a rotating the school year, a rotating list of titles that have either been challenged or banned that are available, unlimited, for free access to anyone in the United States. It's part of a bigger project we're working with ala on, it's really teen led, we know that you know why books are really the ones that are probably most kind of at risk and challenged. So we're pairing it with public programs, and a teen writing contest, and really seeing it as an advocacy project for teens across the country. But I think in terms of censorship, I would say, just kind of doubling down on library ownership and control of books. If we are relying on vendors to supply ebooks, then we do not get to decide when a book is censored. If a vendor gets to decide, well, you know, in Texas or Florida, or wherever this book has, you know, is on a list, we won't make it available. It doesn't matter if the library wants to they may not get to decide. So I think libraries have really been at the forefront of pushing back against a lot of censorship and restrictions on books. And if we are not in control of that, we will have less say over it. Less say over privacy and tracking, I think in censorship and book bans. The question we had an earlier panels about privacy, especially for young people is really important. And again, if you are in control of your technology, and you can ensure that, you know, children, young adults, adults are not being tracked in what they read. There's there's no record of that. Libraries take that really seriously. And if we are going to live that I think we need to really ensure that our technology we have that control to


Carmi Parker  36:51  

Yeah, I would like to just double down on that. So and to go back to what I said about how licenses basically replicate copyright, when the first sale doctrine is off the table. Right? What that means is with a print book, it's your public servants, right? library collections belong to you, they don't belong to us, you're paying for them. And you're paying public servants to decide what is on your shelves, and they do so based on a system of ethics, right? With your digital collection. That is not true. Even a perpetual use license means that my library has access to that item, as long as overdrive has access to that item. If the publisher loses the rights, this happened, I think with Hachette, UK, a bunch of it turns out Hachette had put a bunch of books on overdrive that that they didn't have the rights to and so they just they're just gone. Right They were in our collection, we paid for them, they're gone. I don't know if we were remunerated, The Economist couldn't make a deal with overdrive last February. So the Economist magazine went away. And we were not offered remuneration. We did request that and we did get it. But But what it means is that the power over what's in your library collection belongs to a set of corporations who may or may not have your best your best interests in mind with the Big Five, three of those companies are owned by media companies from Europe, right? They're not necessarily interested in American intellectual freedom. And so it's, it's, it's a great, maybe the most important case for ownership, especially in our political climate.


Jennie Rose Halperin  38:37  

And I would be remiss if I didn't say so you'll notice that ebooks for that us is not up yet. It will be up in the next couple of weeks. And it will provide you links if you are a constituent, a librarian or lawmaker to be able to fill out a form and be put in touch with a sister organization called the book study group that will help sort of take you through the steps of how to introduce the legislation in the back, which is about contracts that library sign. I also want to call out library futures we'll be releasing in the winter, a large, very large research study on exactly that question of what happens when a vendor controls digital books in a climate of digital books and materials and a climate of censorship in the library cannot decide what is in and out of their collection. So with that, I want to open up the floor to questions. In the back,


Guy LeCharles Gonzalez  39:31  

Stuart quick licensing question, since we've talked a lot about different licensing forums. I'm curious if either of you can talk about the licensing agreements involved in the band book collections, because a lot of those books are big five from big five publishers. So I'm curious, what are those individual agreements that have been made to make them accessible? Or are you footing the bill for the additional licenses to support that distribution?


Kathleen Riegelhaupt  39:59  

For NYP Well, the initial book that we have available now was limited. It's, it's was donated by the publisher for a limited period. So we're not paying for individual licenses for that. But it is limited period. From I think it was October one through November 30.


Micah May  40:16  

Yeah. So, you know, I don't, you know, I don't work for Brooklyn Public Library, Boston or Seattle. But my understanding of those projects from conversations with those staff is that they are just giving patrons access to their normal digital library collections. So they would be buying those licenses on whatever terms they're available, and allowing, you know, these young adults from outside of their service area, free access, and you know, so that's just kind of sharing their normal licenses, so nothing unique there. In terms of the DPLA ban book club, we are buying licenses on pretty much normal terms. Through the palace marketplace, we have had conversations with most of the publishers, including Big Five, I think the biggest sort of exception for that is some are concerned about sharing amongst multi library organizations. And they have been okay with that in the context of the band book club, I think, because it's sort of a special mission driven project. So we are buying all the car licenses for the most part for those books, which is one of the reasons that we have geographic limitation stereos where books have specifically been banned. Otherwise, it would just be probably cost prohibitive to provide a nationwide access.


Jennie Rose Halperin  41:33  

Great. We have time for one more question. Yes? raise your prices that a publisher will charge? Yeah, that's it so glad you asked.


Carmi Parker  41:51  

The most expensive for us. So publishers can sort of pick and choose who they charge what for? We're paying $109 for 24 months of access to Stephen King's new book right now. One copy one copy, right one borrower at a time for two years, for 24 months. So Right. So you got braiding sweetgrass, $18, perpetual use murder bot $60 for 24 months. And this is my concern as a librarian. I can buy three of these for every one of these, right? And I have to decide, right. And since the pandemic, digital reading is no longer niche, right, we expect audio book circulation to exceed ebook circulation next year. And we need the diverse collections in the digital books. Now we can't just sort of have oh, it's just bestsellers over there. That's not true anymore. And it's interesting in covering to come up with how to meet our budget every year. But I think we're coming up with some ideas like Micah talked about, in adjusting what we can adjust on the platforms in order to make sure that we have plenty of midlist. And I want to add to the extremely high prices really are the big five and a couple of other the big Indies. Almost all of our indie publishers offer very reasonable license terms.


Micah May  43:37  

Yeah, I would add, I mean, I think the over 100 is unusual, it is out there. But it's, it's no this assignment issues. Okay. I mean, I'm not saying it's unheard of, but it's like, it would be unusual, it would be a small percentage of the total titles, right? That are that can demand that but but like, over $80 is not unusual, like Hachette, almost all their books are over $80 for an that's for a two year license. So when you think about it on a purlin basis, that's very expensive. You know, the other end of the spectrum is out there, too. I would agree with karmi. Like most independent publishers are offering a pretty reasonable price, like, you know, under $30 In many cases, and then, you know, like, so the palace marketplace has this. We call it the indie catalog is actually self published titles, which we have librarians sort of making selections from many of those are under $10 For perpetual. So there's a really wide range. Audio books do tend to be significantly more than ebooks. So many of those are, you know, pushing $100 You know, like our audible books are, most of them are I think they've mostly kept them just under 100 But they're often close. So those are the most expensive that are out there. If that makes sense.


Carmi Parker  44:49  

And I add this is your taxpayer dollars


Jennie Rose Halperin  44:54  

so we're exactly at time and if you find me during the break, you can find it play a fun matching game. aim as to what you think library ebook licenses might cost, which will be up at the new sites. You can see some of the examples. Thank you so much to our panel. This has been incredibly illuminating Actually, both for me and I hope for all of you. We'll take a 15 minute break and be back at 245 with some of my favorite lawyers.


Announcer  45:23  

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