Thursday, May 03, 2007

Libraries to cut out print with eBook loans

"After a day spent staring at a computer monitor, think of (a) book as a kind of screen saver for your brain"

Libraries to cut out print with eBook loans
Caitlin Fitzsimmons 4/Libraries-cut-print-eBook-loans

A library initiative in Canada to offer loans via eBook readers could be another blow for print.

EBook technology is gaining traction in the library sector with a Canadian government research body and eBook aggregator MyiLibrary partnering to launch a new service called eBook Loans.

Billed as an "electronic twist on the traditional library- interlending model", the service offers instant access to tens of thousands of electronic books from academic publishers such as Elsevier, Taylor & Francis, Blackwell and Springer.

Pay-per-download for individual journal articles have been available for some time but this is thought to be a first for full-length academic books.

Each loan costs £11.33 (CAN$25), payable online using a credit card. Users are given access to an eBook through a URL that expires after 30 days.

This widens the choice of books available to researchers and reduces the cost of inter-library loans for the institutions, while providing a new revenue stream for publishers.

Chief executive and president of Ingram Digital Group, which owns MyiLibrary, James Gray, said: "This launch is the culmination of months of tireless research into how to develop a robust and intuitive inter-library loan system that easily integrates into library workflows.

"The ability to deliver the content instantaneously is a key feature of this service, and one we believe will help libraries service the needs of their patrons in the most effective way possible."

MyiLibrary's partner in the venture is the National Research Council Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information, a science and technology research centre and one of Canada's biggest publishers of scientific books.

Publishers and technology companies have been actively developing eBook products, which allow readers to transport several books in a small package, eliminating the need for print and paper.

In the consumer market, Sony last year announced the launch of its eBook Reader in the US and agreements with several publishers, including Cambridge University Press, Simon and Schuster, Random House, HarperCollins and Hachette Book Group USA, to make 10,000 titles available for download.

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