Libraries are also accustomed to licensing models. Going forward, Brantley says, “I think libraries will increasingly be placed into a position of needing to secure licensed access to a new generation of digital book repositories and service providers that will take advantage of these opportunities; libraries will have to engage in a round of innovation that optimizes their local service provision through integration with institutional data sources such as library catalogs and e-scholarship repositories. I would also expect that libraries will increasingly support distributed print-on-demand solutions, such as the Espresso machine, in order to provide a range of content-delivery models to their constituents.”
However, this model could lead to some trouble. Georgia State University recently found itself the target of lawsuits from publishers, including Oxford University Press and SAGE Publications, after offering e-books and other digital content via an online reserve system. The system was offering copyrighted materials to students free of charge. Brantley notes, “This is why trade publishers don’t trust libraries with their digital content for acquisition to support digital lending, and frankly, I can’t say that I blame them. … Everybody is going to want to do the right thing for their own communities; it’s going to take a while for understandings to shift around to accommodate wholly new models for monetization and income.”
The Free Experiment
In January 2007, Google held a conference, called “Google Unbound,” at the New York Public Library’s main building. There, the Google Print folks managed to gather the trifecta of “give it away ’til they pay you for it” marketers: Cory Doctorow, Seth Godin and Chris Anderson.
All three are authors. All three have done various experiments in giving away digital copies of their work. And all three have found tremendous success in doing so. At the time, their experiences probably seemed a bit revolutionary to many of the publishers in the room. But more than a year and a half later, a number of those same publishers are conducting similar experiments, including HarperCollins and Random House.
Laura Dawson is CEO of Numerical Gurus, LLC, consulting company providing services to the information, librarym and book industries. Dawson has consulted to numerous organizations in these verticals, primarily focusing on solving problems related to metadata, identifiers, Linked Data, semantic web applications, and structured content.