eBooks ... By the Numbers
PDA: Heating Up in Libraries
PDA, commonly known as an acronym for public display of affection or personal digital assistant (e.g., Palm Pilots), now has a new (relatively speaking) meaning in the book industry: patron-driven acquisition. It's a system whereby library patrons can browse e-books that a library hasn't purchased yet, and as a book is "checked out," the library is charged for single use or for buying the title that then makes it part of the library's collection.
PDA has been increasingly adopted by libraries, and more digital distribution services are offering this as a purchase option, in addition to direct purchase and subscription-based access.
Digital content and service provider ebrary is among the latest to offer PDA to libraries, announcing its new service in mid-October. Its launch includes more than 155,600 e-books for PDA (which can be previewed at Site.ebrary.com/lib/pda) including titles from publishers such as ABC-CLIO/Greenwood, Cambridge University Press, Elsevier, The McGraw-Hill Cos., Palgrave Macmillan, Taylor & Francis and Wiley.
Ebrary joins Ebook Library (EBL), NetLibrary and Ingram's MyiLibrary in offering PDA to libraries, according to an article in LibraryJournal.com. "Nearly all librarians sharing pilot PDA experiences report positive results, to say the least—one report from Duke's patron-driven project indicated that the $25,000 set aside for the project was spent in just 14 days," reported the LibraryJournal.com article. "That quick spending is a testament to the success of the PDA model, said Nancy Gibbs, department head of acquisitions at Duke University, who added that the funds would have been spent even more quickly had the project been advertised. Since joining the ebrary pilot in November 2009, Duke has purchased 347 titles in two similar two-week periods, spending $25,000 and $24,000 respectively," according to the article.
Many publishers have voiced concern over the PDA model, as it would seem to ensure fewer copies of books sold. But with budget cuts widespread among libraries nationwide, the PDA model offers a way for libraries to pay for only what their customers are using.