erik christopher.jpegEditor’s note: Part 1 of this article can be found here. PB

The best way to think of eBooks is as just another format, the content is the same as the print; it’s the format that has changed. Historically, students/patrons are accepting of such change. Think of e-journals, they have multiple platforms for the journals and each publisher presents theirs in a unique way with features and options, but the core content is still the same.

Access Models

In regards to access models we have to look at what the state of the industry is. In a conversation I had with Jay Henry, former Director of Blackwell Digital Services, he sums it up nicely. “What I mean is, the current state-of-the-art is really the result of compromise between what would be ideal, and what is possible—this is true in both the realm of technology and copyright/royalty-land” What Mr. Henry is referring to is that the access models are a result of what we have to work with. There is a certain field or constraint that the aggregators abide by and limitations that are in place that they must work with. Their is no grand scheme to make it harder for libraries or some evil plan hatching, everyone is simply working with what they have and can only do so much in those regards. Currently there are four types of access, Single User, Multi-User, Subscription and EBL’s Non-Linear access, which you can also partner with Patron/Demand Driven. I’ll go into each of the three and how each agg has applied them to their platform.EBL: EBL offers two types of access to their eBooks, first up is the Non-Linear model, what this means is that multiple, simultaneous use of an eBook is available with a usage limitation of 325 uses of a title in a year. A use is defined as a patron accessing the title beyond the FREE browsing period. Only after this FREE browse period that they decide to look at the title more is it a use. What EBL has done is that if that patron comes back to the title multiple times in a day or chooses to download the title, it is still only one use, no matter the number of days they choose to download the title for. So in a year, a library has 325 uses of a title available to them for as many people that want to use it. By doing this they don’t have a single user model and can offer multi-use, the catch is the usage limitation that the publishers agreed to and allow the multi-user setup instead of single user. Their other model is called unlimited access and that allows for multiple simultaneous users without any 325 limitation, the big difference is that there are less titles available from publishers with this type of access. They also have the ability to offer Short-Term loans, Chapter Packs and eReserve.

ebrary: ebrary offers both a single user and a multi-user access. Pretty straightforward, single user one at a time and a patron receives a notice of the title being used, multi-user equals multiple simultaneous users at once. They are also piloting a patron driven approach to eBooks currently.

Myilibrary: MIL has both single user and multi-user titles available; all titles are available as both single and multi. Again pretty straightforward, with the exception that multi-user for MIL in their eyes is around 3-4 users, more then that they monitor and notify you of any possible extreme uses that may be occurring, could be a bot or a student trying to access the whole text to print the whole book out.


Pricing of eBooks in the Academic setting, you won’t see the $9.99 commonality of Amazon titles; there is a reason for this. While the average price may be ($XXX), many academic eBooks can run $200 to $450 or more. These titles are meant for research, which prioritizes quick access to authoritative content over an immersive reading experience. Patrons are pulling chunks of content out that they need for papers, presentations or other means. Below is the breakdown on what the price of eBooks will be on the platforms and this doesn’t include any maintenance fees for platforms, that’s actually a little hard to describe in writing versus a presentation, webinar or phone.

EBL: The Non-linear (NL) model titles run the same as the Hardcover or the Paperback if no Hardcover is available, so if a title is $150 for the print, then the eBook in NL would be $150, for the Unlimited Access (UA), the title is 150% of the list price, so $150 print would be $225 for the UA title from EBL in eBook format.

ebrary: They have a SUPO (Single User) & MUPO (Multi-User) models, SUPO is the same as list price, same model of EBL’s NL approach and the MUPO is 150% of list, again the same as UA for EBL.

MIL: MIL offers both a Single User and a Multi-User model, the Single User is 120% of list price and the Multi-User is 170% of list price. This pricing actually reflects their decreased maintenance fee for the platform.

All of these aggregators also offer consortial pricing and group pricing. Custom deals are approached on a case-by-case basis.


When it comes to Platforms, let me offer a definition and know that this is a constant question and challenge. A Platform is the aggregator-supplied application with which the patron is going to interact or read the eBook with the included tools provided by the aggregator. Each of the three have different feature sets, tools and abilities that are unique to themselves. All of the platforms are available via web access from a computer or any other device that has a web browser, so remote access is there.

EBL: Their platform is a PDF based platform, very straightforward, but very useful. They offer the ability to download an eBook in Adobe Digital Editions on a laptop or computer, thus maintaining the DRM on the book and you can also transfer it to a Sony eReader or any other reader that accepts the Adobe Digital Editions format. They have just released new features for their platform that include a more graphic user interface, including the following features:

* Bookshelf: access current loans, collections, and recently accessed titles from a centralized location.
* Collections: add and organize titles in “My Collections”.
* Bookmarks: access and export patron eBook notes without having to enter the eBook itself, and bookmark eBooks at page level.
* Search Result Filtering: filter down search results at the click of a button, by Publication Date, Publisher, Category or Language.
* Metadata Hyper-linking: link to similar titles in the EBL catalog using LCCH, Dewey, LCCN, Author or Category hyper-linking.
* Chapter Level Linking: link directly to any specific eBook chapter from EBL full record screen, or using chapter level URLs.
* Refworks & Endnote exportation
* Page range, chapter and single page printing

**Above info taken from EBL blog**

EBL also has a very robust Admin side that allows access to multiple features for the Admin that are too vast to go in here. The above patron features are just a factor, more then can be done justice in this piece, but a webinar is best suited or a trial to really experience it.

ebrary: Their platform is a web based platform, can be viewed on anything with a browser, they do not offer any download functions, however they have what many call the most appealing UI (JGH: must be spelled out if not used prior) for the patron. It’s Very easy to use and search on and contains an integrated collaboration tool called Infotools that can integrate with any other electronic resources you have access to. Whether these resources are purchased by the institution or are free resources available, the choice is yours. This is a great way to collaborate and use all of your electronic resources together with an eBook, you can even link into your opac for searching against other materials.

* It allows you to save books to bookshelves, accessible whenever you log in to your account
* Take notes, copy and paste text with citation follow, (copy the text to word and the citation in ALA or your choice follows automatically.)
* Highlight text, print page ranges and chapters
* You can also link to chapters and page level
* Share with others along with exporting to Refworks and Endnote.
* Infotools also allows for hyper-linking of text, you can link a text to a webpage or definition on OED or a variety of options.
* Text to speech and other features for sight impaired
* Many, many other features

MIL: Myilibrary’s platform is a PDF-based platform. You can save searches, can see what the citation would look like and save bookmarks and make notes. The platform is good, however its feature set is much less impressive and robust when compared with the other platforms. The platform is simple and quick, however many features that patrons will want are not present; e.g. linking to other resources, citation follow, highlighting of text and linking to levels of the title whether page or chapter. The MIL platform does work with Endnote and Refworks which are commonly used among Higher Ed.

Editor’s note: Erik Christopher worked in K-12 Educational Sales as publishers rep for many years, recently working as the Digital Services Sales Manager in higher ed, specializing in eBooks and electronic resources from a variety of publishers. This is the second part of a two part article. PB