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Ebooks in HE
Campaigntoinvestigatetheacademicebookmarket " We are a group of academic librarians, researchers and university lecturers who have compiled an open letter asking the UK government to urgently investigate the academic publishing industry over its ebook pricing and licensing practices.The current situation is not working and it needs to change. Librarians are increasingly unable to provide the resources students, lecturers and researchers need."
New Jiscmail list for #ebookSOS "We have set up a new Jiscmail mailing list for all things #ebookSOS – a place for discussion about the issues around academic publishing and ebooks, for news and updates about the campaign, calls for help and support, sharing of examples and bad practice (and good practice – it does happen!) We launched this yesterday …
Problems with the market for academic ebooks
There’s big problems with the market for academic ebooks. For Rachel Bickley, market pressure alone cannot solve the problems in the market for academic ebooks. Wonkhe. [blog] 28 March 2021.
"In the time since a small group of academic librarians launched the #ebooksos campaign with an Open Letter asking for an investigation into the academic ebook publishing industry, we have faced some questioning of our actions. In spite of the letter having attracted, at the time of writing, signatures from over 3800 librarians, lecturers, students, heads of services, university senior managers and two vice chancellors, indicating that the cost and availability of ebooks is a significant concern across the sector, there have still been suggestions that perhaps we could sit down and discuss the issues with the publishers instead.
However, these issues are not new. The pandemic has brought the lack of availability of ebooks for institutional access, and the astronomical prices and restrictive licences under which those which are available can be procured, into sharp focus, but librarians have been dealing with this situation for a long time. Dialogue with publishers has been attempted, but it went nowhere useful. The investigation route was not a knee-jerk reaction to being unable to obtain the resources that we need for our students; it was the only option that those of us who set up the campaign could see remaining.
Fyfe, C. 2014. Ebooks in higher education: a strategic priority? In: Woodward, H. (ed.) Ebooks in Education: Realising the Vision. Pp. 1–7. London: Ubiquity Press. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/bal.a
University leaders and managers concern themselves with developments that align with institutions’ strategic priorities, deliver competitive advantage, improve teaching and research performance, reduce costs and enhance value for money. Ebooks have the potential to engage with all these strategic priorities. Following the successful integration of ejournals into the academic workflow, ebooks promise much to universities aspiring to enhance students’ educational experience, enrich research resources and streamline services. They have greater potential to transform the reader experience than ejournals and yet they have experienced a long and difficult birth, suffering from digital rights management, integration, discoverability and functionality challenges. It is taking much longer than expected to arrive at a position in which ebooks have a dominant and realiable part to play in students’ learning and in universities’ provision of texts to support both teaching and research.
Between 2014 and 2018, Jisc Collections ran a national pilot project funding four project teams from UK higher education institutions (HEIs) to investigate the viability of publishing their own e-textbooks.
The project, developed in direct response to the unsustainable models and high price of e-textbooks being made available to institutions, has been exploring alternative ways to create learning materials for students.Lara Speicher from UCL Press explains that: “Textbooks are very expensive for students to buy on top of their fees and living expenses, and buying large numbers of print textbooks is increasingly challenging for squeezed library budgets. And now these issues are starting to bite as textbook sales are in decline”.There are now clear signs that an alternative approach is underway. In the US, OpenStax, developed by Rice University, is an innovative open access textbook platform and SUNY Open Textbooks, developed by the State University of New York Libraries and launched in 2012 has published over 20 textbooks with more forthcoming. The latter is very much a community project and it is hoped that the outcomes of the institution as e-textbook will kickstart a similar approach in the UK leading to fresh approaches and sustainable models textbook publishing.Furthermore, the advent of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) provides additional incentive for HEIs to raise the topic of institutionally produced textbooks higher on the agenda.
Askews and Holts Library Services. VLeBooks https://www.askewsandholts.com/AskHolts/CorpContent.aspx?cID=28
Ebsco eBooks https://www.ebsco.com/products/ebooks
ProQuest Ebook Central https://about.proquest.com/en/products-services/ebooks-main