Springer Science and Business Media, one of the largest scientific and business publishers in the world, is pushing hard into the e-books market, the Financial Times reports. The company’s main goals are lowering price with electronic publishing and to ensure titles are available ubiquitously, according to Cynthia Cleto, Springer’s global product manager for e-books told the FT.
Notable in the article is the fact that academic publishers are seeing much higher sales rates in e-books as a percentage of total sales than trade publishers, who typically see sales of e-books accounting for three percent of annual revenue. Budget constrained libraries and universities are opting for electronic formats to save money.
The FT characterizes Springer as “ahead in [the] academic e-book market” with 22,500 titles available in e-book formats though there are no comparative statistics offered for other publishers. Along with other publishers, Springer is calling for a standard format for e-books so that it can publish for many platforms with one format.
Imagine libraries that stock themselves organically based on what patrons decide to print. Wright State University librarian Sue Polanka writes that Springer Science+Business Media will bring its MyCopy on-demand book production service to North American libraries beginning next week. She has posted a June 22-dated press release from the company.
This is an intriguing program, because it turns the library into a potential retail distribution point for on-demand books from the Springer 11,000-titles strong e-book library (and, potentially, titles from other publishers that join the initiative through Springer’s MyCopy service). A library visitor can order a soft cover copy of any book in the MyCopy database and receive it with a color copy and black-and-white text for $24.95. The same price applies for all on-demand books provided by MyCopy.
There is no specific discussion of the pricing of on-demand journals from Springer’s 2,000-plus scientific and other journals catalog.
Libraries, of course, could shoulder the cost of creating a copy of an e-book for a patron, but it is more likely that, having paid for access to the e-book collection libraries will let patrons pay for personal paper copies themselves and, perhaps, provide some subsidies for low-income patrons.
The potential, too, exists for self-organizing groups of patrons to pay for a printed copy that remains in the library after they are done with it.
Thirty libraries in the U.S. and Canada participated in the trial phase of the MyCopy service and will be able to offer it immediately to patrons as of the date of the press release.