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Choosing e‐books: a perspective from academic libraries

Vasileiou, Magdalini, Hartley, Richard and Rowley, Jennifer (2012) Choosing e‐books: a perspective from academic libraries. Online information review, 36 (1). pp. 21-39. ISSN 1468-4527

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Purpose – E‐books are an important and growing type of digital resource. Academic libraries have traditionally had a major role in selecting books and making them available to learners, scholars, and researchers. Therefore the processes and criteria that they apply in the selection and acquisition of e‐books may potentially have significant consequences for the future viability of e‐books as a product. This paper aims to report on research into the criteria and processes that academic libraries use to choose e‐books. Design/methodology/approach – Semi‐structured interviews were conducted with 27 librarians in seven academic libraries in the UK. Findings – Academic libraries purchase e‐books from a portfolio of different vendors. In order to select the books and packages that they acquire they apply a number of criteria, including business models, licence, price, platform, interface, subject coverage, and match to reading lists. High on the list of librarians' concerns are: the variation in and complexity of business models for purchasing, licence variety and digital rights management (DRM) restrictions, and perceived high prices. Originality/value – This study focuses directly and in depth on the buying and selection processes and criteria. Insights offered by this study may be of value to publishers, aggregators and librarians.

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