April 10

E-book Acquisitions

In ETL503’s module 3.3, ‘Licenses’, we were asked to read Chapter 6 of Polanka’s No Shelf Required: E-books in Libraries.

Consider the issues raised in this comprehensive chapter concerning the selection and acquisition.

This certainly was a comprehensive chapter, with discussion around types of e-books, vendor and publisher business models, acquisition methods, library access, and workflows.

Understandably, vendors and publishers are apprehensive about providing library-based access to e-books because, like with print formats, it is difficult to generate revenue and content is subject to piracy (Morris & Sibert, 2010, p. 88). Different acquisition models have been developed to protect vendors and publishers, though each has pros and cons for libraries. I have put these into a table.

Business Model Advantages Disadvantages
Subscription Access to a large number of e-books for a set period of time.


Relatively low cost.

Generally, subscription packages only include older titles.

For newer content, prices are much higher.

Libraries have no control over the list of titles.

Content can change during the access period.

Perpetual Ownership Ongoing access to content.

Libraries can build collections with the future in mind.

Price is higher than that of a print book.

On top of the price for titles, libraries are often required to pay maintenance fees for the platform.

Pay per View Extremely cost-effective as libraries only pay for what is used.

Option to automatically purchase titles after a certain number of loans.

Libraries are required to pay ongoing fees.

Adapted from Morris & Sibert, 2010, pp. 88-90.

Subscription packages have the most disadvantages and the advantages don’t really match to the needs of the library’s users. They seem to be ‘just-in-case’ purchases, especially since libraries don’t have a great deal of control of title selection.

Perpetual ownership is quite expensive but the opportunity to build for the future can be useful if libraries know the direction their school library program is travelling.

The pay per view model is the most cost-effective and lends itself to patron-driven acquisition. Of the three models listed, this is perhaps the best for school libraries as students can choose titles according to their needs and the library will never waste money on titles that are never accessed (Kont, 2018).


Kont, K.R. (2018, April). What do demand-driven e-lending, e-acquisition and e-cataloguing activities really cost: A case study in Tallinn University of Technology Library. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the IATUL Conferences, Oslo, Norway. Retrieved from https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2227&context=iatul

Morris, C., & Sibert, L. (2010). Acquiring e-books. In Polanka, S. (Ed.), No shelf required: E-books in libraries (pp. 85-106). Chicago: American Library Association

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Posted April 10, 2019 by murphda75 in category ETL503 Resourcing the Curriculum

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