Ebook Collections: Ebook availability

This guide highlights a range of ebook collections, giving details on the content of the collections, and how to use them

Why can't the Library get an ebook?

The Library is committed to providing digital options, but is under some restrictions, these constraints are shared by most academic libraries.  Some books are simply not available electronically, or not available for libraries to buy, only individuals can do so for private use.  The Library works under budgetary constraints, and ebooks can be much more expensive than print books, so the cost must be reviewed under this context.  Ebook publishers have different licensing options for titles, and while taking cost into consideration, the Library must consider if the license provides adequate usage, or if it's too restrictive only allowing a small number of people to read the book for a short period of time.  This page provides details of why the Library might not be able to get some titles for you.

 

You may come across websites which show an ebook is available. These ebooks are being sold directly to an individual for them to access on their own account, for example, Kindle or Kobo ebooks, or ebooks sold on Apple Store and Google Play.

Libraries can't buy these ebooks as they are licenses to the individual who purchased them, and can't be shared with anyone else.

The Library will buy ebooks where the publisher has licensed them for Libraries to share with their users, these are available to Libraries from a range of suppliers, and the model of access varies for publisher to publisher. Unfortunately not everything which is available for an individual to buy will be licensed for a Library to buy.

 

An ebook may be available, but the ebook hasn't been licensed for libraries to buy in the UK. It may be that the publisher will release the ebook for distribution in the UK at a later date, not at all, or may have agreed to sell the ebook using the eTextbook model in the UK.

 

The price of some ebooks, especially eTextbooks, is determined by the number of students registered on a course or module. These are only available to students registered on a particular module(s), and access is purchased for a specified time period, normally 1 year.

No-one outwith the module(s) the e-textbook has been bought for will have access to it. When the time period expires there's no access to the e-textbook, unless purchased again.

There are three main suppliers who offer this model, Bibliu, Kortext and Vital Source.  Kortext and Vital Source also sell directly to students.

This access model tends to be very expensive, typically around £35 per student per title, and as the University loses access to the resource after the time period of the purchase, it's not a sustainable long-term model.

 

There are a wide range of licensing models which publishers offer which place restrictions on how an ebook can be used. All ebook licenses, with the exception of DRM-Free (Digital Rights Management Free) licenses will restrict the number of pages which can be downloaded or printed for later use.

Single-user license and 3-user license

Both of these restrict the number of people who can access the ebook at any time. Restricted user licenses are okay if only a few people will need to access the ebook at a time, but aren't useful for large groups who will need access to the ebook at the same time. If a class of 100 students all need to read a chapter from an ebook in a week, and there's only a three-user license some students won't get access when they need it.

Credit models

Each time an ebook is viewed a credit is used. Some ebook suppliers work exclusively on a credit model, supply 100 credits or more. Credits can be used up very quickly if a large number of people need to use the ebook, or a smaller number need to use the ebook frequently. If a class has 100 students, and they all use an ebook with a 300-credit license, all 100 students can access the ebook at the same time (using 100 credits), but once the 300 credits are used no-one will be able to access it, unless an additional license is bought.

Unlimited and DRM-Free licenses

Some publishers will sell Unlimited licenses which will allow any number of people to access them as frequently as they want. Others offer DRM-Free licenses (Digital Rights Management Free) which allow the same access as an Unlimited license but also allow someone to download and save as much of the ebook they want, great for offline reading or for those who prefer not to read from a screen. Unlimited and DRM-Free Licenses can be more expensive. The Library will always look for Unlimited and DRM-Free licenses as the preferred model when buying ebooks. Credit models and restricted user models may be purchases, but only once the circumstances in which the ebook is to be used is considered.

 

You may see an ebook available for an individual to buy for £30, but the price the Library pays will almost always be more than the price an individual pays. Some ebook titles can cost hundreds, and even thousands of pounds. Unfortunately there's no formula which can be applied to guess at what a Library might have to pay to get access to an ebook. Publishers do this to protect themselves against loss of revenue, working on the basis that if the Library buys an ebook, they won't be able to sell a copy of the book to students or University staff.

 

Some titles are only sold as part of a package of ebooks. These packages could be a subject- based collection, where the Library has to buy the whole collection, or occasionally a custom collection can be created, but the Library would be required to purchase a specified number of ebooks from a collection in order to get access to a specific title.

These collections can prove to be useful, but the cost of buying them can be significant. The Library will only buy collections when it is clear that all the ebooks included in the collection are likely to be well used.

You may come across websites which show an ebook is available. These ebooks are being sold directly to an individual for them to access on their own account, for example, Kindle or Kobo ebooks, or ebooks sold on Apple Store and Google Play.

Libraries can't buy these ebooks as they are licenses to the individual who purchased them, and can't be shared with anyone else.

The Library will buy ebooks where the publisher has licensed them for Libraries to share with their users, these are available to Libraries from a range of suppliers, and the model of access varies for publisher to publisher. Unfortunately not everything which is available for an individual to buy will be licensed for a Library to buy.

Some titles are only sold as part of a package of ebooks. These packages could be a subject- based collection, where the Library has to buy the whole collection, or occasionally a custom collection can be created, but the Library would be required to purchase a specified number of ebooks from a collection in order to get access to a specific title.

These collections can prove to be useful, but the cost of buying them can be significant. The Library will only buy collections when it is clear that all the ebooks included in the collection are likely to be well used.

Requesting ebooks

Staff who would like the Library to investigate getting access to an ebook for teaching purposes can contact their Academic Liaison Librarian or email readinglists@st-andrews.ac.uk .

Students who would like the Library to investigate getting access to an ebook can email morebooks@st-andrews.ac.uk.

Library staff will check to see whether an ebook is available, what it will cost, and any restrictions on access. 

Please ask if you have any questions.