I was recently involved with choosing and configuring an eBook provider at the library where I work and as anyone who knows about eBook services knows its a fairly complicated business. So these are my tips on choosing an eBook provider that is right for you.
- Trial as many services as possible and get your key staff involved in the trials
- Allow plenty of time to arrange and trial the services – setting up trials can take a few weeks and you should be able to trial a service for a whole month so make sure you leave at least a couple of months for the trial periods.
What are the key considerations:
- Which eBook provider covers your subject area best
- How many eBooks do you think you might purchase per year
- If there is a platform fee to pay on an annual basis and you anticipate low purchase numbers will your managers be fine with this
- Can you pay the platform fee as a percentage of each item purchased if you anticipate low purchase numbers initially.
- Can eBooks be rented from the provider by students and delegates (and are you happy with providing this option)
- How does it work for each eBook you purchase, what is the model used. For example, can you download the item so many times a year and what are the limitations of each service
Having more than one eBook provider
It could be a necessity to have more than one eBook provider and this is typical in the HE sector as one provider may not be able to provide the title coverage that you need. In an ideal world it could be best to have numerous providers but their may be platform fees to pay for each provider so having more than one could cost more. In addition, you will have to remember the procedure for ordering items for each provider, which could pose a challenge for departments that have a small number of staff.
You should also consider in advance what procedures you need to follow to add it to your list of eResources and also double check that the eBook provider will work easily with your currently used authentication system.
For every provider you will have to sign a licence agreement generally a named representative from your company will have to be listed on the agreement and that might be you so if you have to sign the agreement make such you check it carefully and ask another member of staff to help you check it over before you sign.
Organise how you will purchase eBooks and the process involved with their purchase in advance. You will most probably have to set up and account with the provider with your accounts department and you will need to know the purchasing process fully so that when requests for eBooks made you know exactly how to fulfil the request.
Think about how you will promote the service in advance. If you have not offered an eBook service to your staff, students and delegates before you might have to spend a lot of time trying to promote the service and get staff, students and delegates on board.
Your web pages
You will need to inform everyone on how to use the eBook service so look for any videos and guides that have already been created by the provider and place links to these items on your web page.