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Ebrary Now Offers Ebook Subscriptions for Indivduals

As the next part of my series on library ebook alternatives, I’d like to discuss a program that ebrary just launched today.

I’ve touched on ebrary once or twice in this blog, but never really discussed them in depth. Let me give you the $0.10 tour before covering today’s news.

Ebrary is a distributor of a wide variety of digital content to public libraries, corporations, and other institutions. They have nearly half a million titles spread across a dozen or more different content areas. Ebrary offers a number of different purchase options for their institutional customers, including patron driven, subscriptions, purchase, and more.

Up until a month ago, the content was only available online so you couldn’t take it with you.  But now that’s changed. In late October Ebrary launched a new service that allowed  registered users to download complete articles and transfer them to various devices. The ebooks are DRMed, and you’ll need Adobe DE (or NookStudy) to open them and transfer the files to your ereader. The files are only available in PDF, which isn’t such a great thing. But at least now a user won’t have to have an active internet connection.

And then today ebrary started offering individual subscriptions, which I find very interesting. They’re being handled via Local Knowledge Online,  a startup launched by a former ebrary VP.

Right now the subscriptions are only available for a selection of titles from ebrary’s general business collection, which it doesn’t appeal to me. The subscription covers 1700 titles offered with an annual cost of $240.

What we have here is a Netflix style subscription for an individual, not a institution. This means that publishers are going to get a recurring payment that will increase as more people sign up. This is exactly what I wanted to find when I started this series.

I wanted a program that would be useful to the library patron and make publishers happy. I think this individual subscription could do the trick.

But it also raises an interesting question. If and when ebrary offers a subscription plan for their public library content, they’re going to be caught up in the same legal tangle that Amazon is in with the Amazon Prime Ebooks.  Ebrary does have fiction titles in their public library collection, so they will have to deal with the same contract issues that Amazon is currently facing. Of course, those legal tangles might prevent ebrary from offering this particular service, so I’m really curious how they’ll pull it off.

Fun times ahead.

Local Knowledge Online


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JimY December 11, 2012 um 11:43 pm

I’m not an avid reader but my wife is. A book in one or two nights is not uncommon if she enjoys it.
I’d like to get her a tablet to download books. It' s clear from your article it’s not here yet and may be a long time coming.
The main thing gettng to me is, Amazon and Nook,, want what I think is an arm and leg for a download of a book that is locked in your device. If it can be transferred, it’s only for 90 days or so and then goes off into the either, and lost forever. For the price of the book, I sure want the hard or paper back item I own, and can keep or pass around as I choose, and it’s viable as long as it stays in one piece. I just don’t see why I should have to pay near full price for somthing sitting in memory somewhere, costing nearly nothing to store and process, and the writter getting no roality. I’m willing to pay a reasonable monthly or yearly fee to access their material and we have a good deal for us both.
I’m not a lawer but an engineeras(as you can tell by the spellilng) but I don’t see much of a difference between Netflix’s movies (intelictual property wise) and a book. Every on earth get a bite of the apple. Netflix appears to have solved it on the film side, so why is it so hard in the book side?

I may have answered my own question in that there are so many lawyers and shadow money suckers in the book market it’s just no way to apease them all to get off dead center, and open up a new market. There appears to me to be two paths to take here. Get the e-book stuff worked out, or let it die on the vine and me and everyone else will just go to the library. This in itself may be the last bastion. It doesn’t take any effort on the e-book subscritpton side, and it lets the library people keep their jobs. And in the end isn’t that what it’s all about anyway?

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