Academic publishers face major US library shift

Academic publishers face major US library shift

Academic publishers are struggling to adapt to the shift in the US library market, which has seen huge growth in patron driven access (PDA) in the past four years, the Independent Publishers Guild conference heard yesterday (13th November).

Speaking at the IPG autumn conference held in London, Michael Zeoli of YBP Library Services and Ashgate's Adrian Shanks gave a presentation on emerging patterns across the market.

Zeoli, speaking from Washington DC, said: "Going from print to e-books has not been a one to one conversion, as we naively might have expected even a couple of years ago… Libraries are moving away from a purchase decision, and towards PDA.”

With PDA, also known as demand driven access (DDA), publishers make whole texts available as part of a digital catalogue, hosted by a library, who does not make an active purchase of the text. A charge for the book is only triggered when a user at the library accesses the book.

Zeoli illustrated how the change had impacted on publisher revenues. “Putting it in the catalogue and waiting to see if the user accesses it – from a publisher’s point of view, that’s not particularly a good thing. You see all the return on your investment coming in much more slowly, and less often.”

However, PDA has hugely expanded in recent years, with YBP Library services offering 33,119 catalogue titles in 2011, compared to 2,898,960 in 2014. “All the risk has been transferred to the publisher,” Zeoli said, “and none of that risk is being shared.”
Shanks backed up Zeoli with a similar picture, and added: “The challenge is fairly obvious – print sales have declined and created a hole that has not been filled by e-sales.”

Also at the conference, the IPG announced a new venture, the Tim Rix Training Programme, named in honour of former IPG president Tim Rix, who died in 2012. The training programme will be online, and free to IPG members. The first one will cover social media, with further courses planned in areas such as metadata.