Libraries are for Use

Demonstrating the value of librarianship

Revisiting Demand-driven Acquisitions | The Scholarly Kitchen


Revisiting Demand-driven Acquisitions | The Scholarly Kitchen.

Good ol’ Joe (Esposito) – I read his report on the (then) potential effects of PDA on university presses intensely and closely shortly after not long after my new place of work started its own pilot of this new collection development method.  What I found most intriguing was his suggestion that publishers, and UP’s in particular, now had a vested interest in ensuring that their books would actually get used, be found and read, by library patrons.

He’s now posted an update to his thoughts and ideas two years later, noting especially how his prognostications are coming to fruition.  Indeed, sales are down with some publishers considering withdrawing from the DDA game altogether.

Joe’s admonitions to the UP and other publishers should hearten librarians.

It seems to me, though, that DDA is here to stay: withdrawing from these programs may simply mean that librarians may not buy many press books at all.

Before I go any further, let’s stipulate that whatever harm DDA is doing to publishers, librarians are not to blame. It is difficult for many publishers to understand this, but libraries do not exist for the benefit of publishers. 

For all the invocations of “the academic community,” publishers and librarians play a zero-sum game. Librarians buy, publishers sell:  no buyer ever wanted a price to be higher, no seller ever wanted a price to be lower. DDA may be hurting publishers precisely because librarians are doing their job.

So what does Mr. Esposito advise?  Increase their prices.  Wait. Really?  Increase?

And limit the sampling.  Now, Joe mentions a trigger of 10% sampling – I don’t know which vendors have a 10% sampling trigger.  The standard is 10 minutes, 10 pages (which is 10% if the book is only 100 pages), or a download/copy/print.  He suggests 5 pages – whoa – I was “sampling” a book on measurement theory the other day and I was surprised when my use triggered a check-out.  I can’t imagine that 5 pages is enough to make an informed decision about using any scholarly book.

Finally, Joe reiterates his suggestion that libraries collaborate with bookstores, enabling patrons to purchase their own books via the library catalog, providing the library with a commission.  This idea has been bandied about but there are both ethical and legal concerns, particularly with publicly-funded institutions.

OK, so what does this say about the relationship of libraries with publishers?  To me, Joe says it all, “librarians are doing their jobs”.  However, I would like to see greater collaboration, such as looking at circulation/use data to determine what characteristics lead to circulations/sales, ensuring the metadata is enhanced and accurate to increase findability, and improving the match of library patron needs and selection in the catalogs.

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This entry was posted on October 18, 2014 by in Academic Libraries, Collections, Publishing.

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