Available – But Not Accessible? Investigating Publisher E-Lending Licensing Practices

Information Research, 24:3, 2019

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 19/20

19 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2019 Last revised: 14 Oct 2019

See all articles by Rebecca Giblin

Rebecca Giblin

University of Melbourne - Law School

Jenny Kennedy

RMIT University

Kimberlee G. Weatherall

The University of Sydney Law School

Daniel Ian Gilbert

Monash University

Julian Thomas

RMIT University

Francois Petitjean

Monash University

Date Written: October 4, 2018

Abstract

Introduction: We report our mixed-methods investigation of publishers’ licensing practices, which affect the books public libraries can offer for e-lending.

Method: We created unique datasets recording pricing, availability and licence terms for sampled titles offered by e-book aggregators to public libraries across Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States and United Kingdom. A third dataset records dates of availability for recent bestsellers. We conducted follow-up interviews with representatives of 5 e-book aggregators.

Analysis: We quantitatively analysed availability, licence terms and price across all aggregators in Australia, snapshotting the competitive playing field in a single jurisdiction. We also compared availability and terms for the same titles from one aggregator across five jurisdictions, and measured how long it took for a sample of recent bestsellers to become available for e-lending. We used data from the aggregator interviews to explain the quantitative findings.

Results: Contrary to aggregator expectations, we found considerable intra-jurisdictional price and licence differences. We also found numerous differences across jurisdictions.

Conclusions: While availability was better than anticipated, licensing practices make it infeasible for libraries to purchase certain kinds of e-book (particularly older titles). Confidentiality requirements make it difficult for libraries to shop (and aggregators to compete) on price and terms.

Keywords: public libraries, libraries, elending, e-lending, ebooks, e-books, aggregators, licensing, oc/ou, metered access, OverDrive, visualisation, information research

JEL Classification: Y10, Y80, Z10

Suggested Citation

Giblin, Rebecca and Kennedy, Jenny and Weatherall, Kimberlee Gai and Gilbert, Daniel Ian and Thomas, Julian and Petitjean, Francois, Available – But Not Accessible? Investigating Publisher E-Lending Licensing Practices (October 4, 2018). Information Research, 24:3, 2019; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 19/20. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3346199

Rebecca Giblin (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne - Law School ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010
Australia

Jenny Kennedy

RMIT University ( email )

124 La Trobe Street
Melbourne, 3000
Australia

Kimberlee Gai Weatherall

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

Daniel Ian Gilbert

Monash University ( email )

23 Innovation Walk
Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3800
Australia

Julian Thomas

RMIT University ( email )

124 La Trobe Street
Melbourne, 3000
Australia

Francois Petitjean

Monash University ( email )

23 Innovation Walk
Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3800
Australia

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