What Can 100,000 Books Tell Us about the International Public Library e-lending Landscape?
Information Research, 24:3, 2019
20 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2019 Last revised: 14 Oct 2019
Date Written: March 17, 2019
Introduction: We investigated the relative availability of e-books to libraries for e-lending in five English-language countries, and analysed their licence terms and prices.
Method: We created a unique dataset recording author, publisher, price and terms for 100,000 titles and 388,045 e-lending licences across Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States and United Kingdom via aggregator Overdrive. We developed new algorithms to estimate the original publication year for each title, and to match titles across jurisdictions.
Analysis: We examined the relationships between title price, age, terms, jurisdiction, publisher and publisher type using various statistical analyses and machine learning.
Results: Price and licence differences across countries are largely attributable to ‘Big 5’ publishers. Prices are largely independent of title age (unless the title is in the public domain) or the rights libraries obtain in exchange. Licence terms are not affected by age either, meaning that the most restrictive terms are often applied to older, less demanded books.
Conclusions: By setting terms independent of titles’ value to libraries, publishers may discourage libraries from adding older and less-demanded books to their collections. We will test this hypothesis in a follow-up library survey.
Keywords: information research, libraries, public libraries, copyright, elending, ebooks, e-lending, ebooks, borrowing, lending
JEL Classification: K00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation