Ebook Business Model Scorecard from ALA

The American Library Association’s Digital Content & Libraries Working Group (DCWG) recently released their Ebook Business Model Scorecard. What is it? “This document focuses on the kinds of licensing terms we see generally in the ebook industry at this time, and the kinds of variables libraries should consider when bargaining with publishers, or when libraries determine that they want to develop their own business models, as some proactive libraries already have done.”

They continue: “The Scorecard explains the meaning of licensing terms often seen in ebook contracts. It provides a Likert scale to assess ebook contract aspects with vendors or publishers. The Scorecard also can be used by librarians to “weigh” the variables most important for their library. By completing the Scorecard the library can identify what contract variables are essential, which can be used to craft a model contract for the library.”

The Scorecard provides a 1-5 point rating scale, and 15 sections to rate, including:

  1. Replicating the Print Model
  2. Inclusion of all titles
  3. Right to transfer content to a different delivery platform
  4. Right to lend content indefinitely
  5. Accessibility for people with disabilities
  6. Integration
  7. Single user
  8. Limited number of loans
  9. Variable pricing
  10. Delayed sales with discounts
  11. Premium for immediate access to delayed titles
  12. In-Library check-out
  13. Restrictions on consortia or interlibrary loans
  14. Enhanced discovery
  15. Sales channel

How does this help libraries? I think it’s a bit of a mixed bag at this point. It’s a great tool to help you figure out priorities, and then to find an appropriate ebook vendor for your library, based on those priorities.

Well … it would be a great tool … if there was something you could actually do with the score. As it stands right now, you can score your own library’s wants and needs. Great! But then … what do you DO with that final score? Nothing, apparently. There is no “if you scored 30 points, you might like Overdrive” type of scoring suggestion.

The Scorecard claims to “[provide] a Likert scale to assess ebook contract aspects with vendors or publishers.” The scorecard definitely provides the scoring mechanism; it just doesn’t help you figure out which vendor might be appropriate, based on your final score.

That said, the Scorecard is not a total wash. You can at least use this tool to help your library figure out what’s important to you in terms of ebook contracts. Then, you can use those talking points when approaching a vendor and their contract.

What do you think? Is this a tool you’d use for your library? We’d love to know – please let us know int he comments!

ebook photo by paz.ca