eBook Options for Libraries

Options (columns are sortable)

Name Ownership DRM-free Copyright/License Source Distribution Format Cost Examples
Open Library Yes No Print-based books digitized by Open Library and converted to eBooks. Open Library has also bought ebooks directly from a few publishers. Hosted by Open Library: a set of over 200,000 ebooks is available for “in library” lending, and a set of 10,000 is available for “open lending” ePub, PDF, in-browser Free Over 1,000 participating libraries
Unglue.it Yes Yes Rightsholders are paid to relicense their work Any digital format Any Initially crowdsourced in order to meet rightsholder’s asking price, then free to anyone Oral Literature in Africa by Ruth A. Finnegan
Sneakernet Model Yes Yes Any eBook distributor or “DIY” Read-only USB drives Any Price of eBook and price of USB drive None yet, but presently viable
Steampunk Model Yes Yes Digital-only texts purchased by libraries and printed as paper-based books Standard model used currently for paper-based books Paper Price of eBook and price of printing None yet, but presently viable
DIY Model Yes Depends on Distribution and Format Paper-based texts purchased and digitized by libraries, then circulated only in digital format (purchasing a single copy and circulating it in two or more formats would violate copyright) DRM-enabled hosting software or read-only USB drives Any Price of paper-based book, price of digitization, and price of distribution method None yet, but presently viable
Open Source/DRM Hybrid Model Yes Both Any eBook distributor or “DIY” Library-hosted, open source (MySQL/VuFind) and DRM-enabled commercial (Adobe Content Server) software ePub, PDF, in-browser (ebooks hosted via Adobe Content Server are not available on Kindle) eBooks (25–45% publisher discounts);
Adobe Content Server ($10,000 one-time license; $1,500 annual maintenance; 8 cents per checkout);
Public Domain/ Creative Commons/ Open Source (Free)
Douglas County (Colorado) Libraries and the MARMOT Library Consortia
Library License Yes Depends on Distribution and Format Rightsholders agree to relicense their work To be determined Any To be determined Not yet viable
Unlimited Content License Model Yes Yes Rightsholder is paid to provide files, which are accessed without limits or returns by authenticated cardholders Library-hosted, open source software (SOPAC/Drupal) Any, including streaming or downloaded audio and video, plus PDF and ePub Negotiated with rightsholder Magnatune at Ann Arbor District Public Library
State Redistribution Model No Yes Authors paid based on the cube root of popularity of their publications Any. Sharing would be legal, and widespread sharing would be in the author's best interest Any Authors or publishers can charge what they wish for copies obtained directly from them Not yet viable (requires government intervention)
Portability Model Yes No Any eBook distributor (State Library of Kansas obtained permission from publishers to transfer copies between hosting vendors) Vendor-hosted, DRM-enabled software (currently Adobe Content Server) All but PC, Nook, and Kindle Negotiated with Vendor 3M Cloud Library at the State Library of Kansas and Baker & Taylor's Axis 360 at King County Library System
Publisher Hosting Model Yes Yes Publisher Publisher-hosted software PDF or in-browser Prices posted or negotiated with vendor Publishers who have sold DRM-free ebooks to OhioLINK: ABC-CLIO, Gale, Oxford University Press, Sage, Springer, and Wiley


Last Updated: July 2, 2012