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Old 07-28-2019, 10:02 AM   #1
fjtorres
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A different kind of mobile reading: Bookmobiles

Library ebooks are becoming a hot topic thrse dsys of embargoes and countering boycotts.

Library ebooks aren't the first or only way libraries bring books directly to readers, though. The author-centric THE PASSIVE VOICE blog has recently featured a couple of articles on mobile library services, present and past: bookmobiles and their precursors.

They are quite topical.

If interested, here we go.

TPV articles:

https://www.thepassivevoice.com/yes-...still-a-thing/

https://www.thepassivevoice.com/mobi...raries-part-2/

https://www.thepassivevoice.com/ther...pon-the-earth/

unexpanded source articles:

https://www.pewtrusts.org/research-a...ing-we-checked

https://vimeo.com/209492194

https://www.thevintagenews.com/2017/12/20/bookmobiles/

Biblio-burro: https://www.pbs.org/pov/biblioburro/...burro-trailer/

Lots of images and videos in the three articles, including a British 1930's walking library; an early UK mobile library from 1859; a 1941 streetcar library in Edmonton, Ca; and a mounted library in 1930's Kentucky.

All highly recommended.

Interested in more?

From Wikipedia:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bookmobile

Quote:

20th century

One of the earliest mobile libraries in the United States was a mule-drawn wagon carrying wooden boxes of books. It was created in 1904 by the People's Free Library of Chester County, South Carolina, and served the rural areas there.[5]

Another early mobile library service was developed by Mary Lemist Titcomb[6] (1857–1932).[7] As a librarian in Washington County, Maryland, Titcomb was concerned that the library was not reaching all the people it could. The annual report for 1902 listed 23 "branches", each being a collection of 50 books in a case that was placed in a store or post office throughout the county.[8] Realizing that even this did not reach the most rural residents, the Washington County Free Library began a "book wagon" in 1905, taking the library materials directly to people's homes in remote parts of the county.[9]

With the rise of motorized transport in America, a pioneering librarian in 1920 named Sarah Byrd Askew began driving her specially outfitted Model T to provide library books to rural areas in New Jersey.[10] The automobile remained rare, however, and in Minneapolis, the Hennepin County Public Library operated a horse-drawn book wagon starting in 1922.[11]

Following the Great Depression in the United States, a WPA effort from 1935 to 1943 called the Pack Horse Library Project covered the remote coves and mountainsides of Kentucky and nearby Appalachia, bringing books and similar supplies on foot and on hoof to those who could not make the trip to a library on their own. Sometimes these "packhorse librarians" relied on a centralized contact to help them distribute the materials.[12]

At Fairfax County, Virginia, county-wide bookmobile service was begun in 1940, in a truck loaned by the Works Progress Administration ("WPA"). The WPA support of the bookmobile ended in 1942, but the service did not.[13]

The "Library in Action" was a late-1960s bookmobile program in the Bronx, NY, run by interracial staff that brought books to teenagers of color in under-served neighborhoods.[14]

Quote:

Bookmobiles are still in use, operated by libraries, schools, activists, and other organizations. Although some feel the bookmobile is an outmoded service, giving reasons like high costs, advanced technology, impracticality, and ineffectiveness, others cite the ability of the bookmobile to be more cost-efficient than building more branch libraries would be and its high use among its patrons as support for its continuation.[16] To meet the growing demand for "greener" bookmobiles that deliver outreach services to their patrons, some bookmobile manufacturers have introduced significant advances to reduce their carbon footprint, such as solar/battery solutions in lieu of traditional generators, and all-electric and hybrid-electric chassis.[citation needed] Bookmobiles have also taken on an updated form in the form of m libraries, also known as mobile libraries in which patrons are delivered content electronically [17]
Bookmobiles, both motorized and bicycle based are operational the world over, providing service to both urban and rural communities, some very very isolated.

Some might question their relevance in today's world of digital delivery but it turns out they are also one of most effective ways of spreading book access. From a library trustee comment at TPV:

https://www.thepassivevoice.com/yes-...comment-447348

Quote:

Actually, in our rural library system, we’ve provided a wireless access point at our bookmobile for at least 5 years.

We recently replaced our ancient and increasingly unreliable bookmobile with a new model. Initially, I, as a trustee, was opposed. Bookmobiles are expensive– they are custom-built and cost in the $200-300K range. That seemed steep. We have been putting in what we call “express libraries”, unstaffed cubbyholes with extended hours where patrons can pick up holds and select from tiny browsing collections, and I thought that expresses were an efficient alternative to an expensive piece of manned equipment with substantial ongoing maintenance costs. (Actually not exactly cheap if you have build an ADA compliant, low maintenance structure for the express, but that is another analysis.)

I am, on the odd occasion, conscientious. I did some due diligence, talking to bookmobile users and reviewing the numbers.

First, people love bookmobiles. One patron told me his family used to travel from another county just to use our bookmobile. I talked to a number of people who told me how much they loved the bookmobile. I have to admit that I got my first library card (from the library system of which I am now a trustee) at a bookmobile more than 60 years ago, so I am sentimental myself.

Sentiments are significant, but they don’t pay bills. When I started looking at the numbers, our bookmobile circulated more books with fewer staff hours than most of our brick and mortar branches. At that point, I flipped and urged the rest of the board to purchase the new truck.
As is, there are some 700 bookmobiles serving the US and more coming, as libraries look to remain effective in their communities, especially with children.

https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=boo...-through-teens

Quote:

On bright green bicycles or retrofitted vans, public librarians are rolling out more mobile outreach service models, removing access barriers and providing specialized services for kids.

“All aspects of library outreach are on the rise as part of a larger discussion on how libraries can remain relevant,” says Ann Plazek, president of the American Library Association’s (ALA) Association of Bookmobiles and Outreach (ABOS). In 2014, 690 bookmobiles were operating across the United States, according to a study from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Those numbers are higher now—and the vehicles more diverse, Plazek and others say. Bookmobile services for adults remain a staple. Outreach to young people “may take on different names, such as bookmobile, Kidmobile, Storymobile, FLAGship, ABC Express, etcetera,” notes Michael Swendrowski, ABOS board member and president of consulting firm Specialty Vehicle Services, LLC. “All continue to meet the needs of their communities by offering free access to the latest technologies and materials.”

Swendrowski points to “a record number of bookmobile projects year [after] year” since 2014. He also notes that “libraries and mobile services are part of the solution when a community is struggling economically. When new vehicles production is down, for example, during the Great Recession, usage of the existing bookmobiles went way up.”

When children benefit from the services that mobile vehicles bring to them, they also become “more aware of the offerings in the buildings and are more likely to visit the library,” says Plazek, noting that patrons can range from young kids in group-care facilities to school-age children in after-school programs, working families on corporate campuses, and residents in rural areas.
Bookmobiles may well become more prominent in coming times as some publishers see libraries as a cause of their declining sales and seek to marginalize them.

https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/...y-e-books.html

Quote:

Macmillan is now the fourth Big Five publisher to change its terms for digital content in libraries in recent months—but its changes, and the views expressed by Macmillan CEO John Sargent, are by far the most unique and contentious of the group. In a July 25 memo (addressed to authors, illustrators, and agents), Sargent not only delivered the news of Macmillan's library e-book changes, he basically called out libraries for depressing author payments.

“It seems that given a choice between a purchase of an e-book for $12.99 or a frictionless lend for free, the American e-book reader is starting to lean heavily toward free,” Sargent wrote.
“Our new terms are designed to protect the value of your books during their first format publication. But they also ensure that the mission of libraries is supported."

In the memo, Sargent asserted that 45% of Macmillan’s U.S. “e-book reads” were now “being borrowed for free” from libraries," a trend he attributed to a mix of factors, including the lack of "friction" in e-lending compared to physical book lending, the "active marketing by various parties to turn purchasers into borrowers," and unnamed apps "supporting e-book lending regardless of residence, including borrowing from libraries in different states and countries."

Macmillan has declined repeated requests over the last year to discuss the embargo, or Macmillan's library e-book program more generally.

At press time, American Library Association representatives had yet to issue an official response, but Alan Inouye, ALA's senior director, for Public Policy & Government Relations, offered a blunt first assessment of Macmillan's plan: "Worse than expected," he told PW. "Embargoes violate the principle of equitable access to information that is at the core of libraries," he added, pointing out that Macmillan's policy is curiously out of step with the rest of the industry. "Within the past year, three of the other Big Five publishers revised their library e-book business models, and none of them concluded that libraries were a threat to their profitability," Inouye observed. "Indeed, these other publishers believe that libraries benefit their businesses. Macmillan stands alone with its embargo."
Libraries are starting to respond:

https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/...tal-audio.html

Quote:

Washington Digital Library Consortium (WDLC), a statewide coalition of some 44 public libraries across Washington state, is organizing a potential six-month boycott of Blackstone Publishing's digital audiobooks. The move follows Blackstone's decision, announced last month, that as of July 1 it would embargo selected new release audiobook titles in libraries for 90 days. The WDLC is urging libraries across the nation to join them in their protest, which is set to begin on August 1.

“As advocates for equitable access for our residents, we protest your decision and, as a result, will boycott Blackstone’s e-audiobooks for six months (August 1, 2019, to January 31, 2020). We ask you to reverse the embargo and to refrain from creating future barriers for libraries,” reads a draft letter making the rounds in the library community. “We take these steps because we truly believe that services without special barriers to libraries are best for both for our patrons and your business.”
Quote:

Unlike with Macmillan's controversial "test" embargo on new release e-books from its Tor imprint, Blackstone does not appear to be singling out library sales as a threat to consumer sales. But the potential boycott highlights librarians' growing frustration with the digital market, as well as another growing concern among librarians, particularly in the digital audio market: equity of access.
Note that library print book costs average from $6.50 to $28.30 for limitless checkouts, though some specific book have "library editions" ranging as high as $100 and more.

https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=slj...rices-for-2017

Much more at the sources.

Last edited by fjtorres; 07-28-2019 at 10:12 AM.
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Old 07-28-2019, 04:59 PM   #2
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Bookmobiles...love it. Not at all a factor in today’s battle between publishers and “frictionless borrowing” coupled with marketing designed to change buyers into borrowers.

If 45% of a publishers ebook reads come from libraries....what percentage of revenue comes from selling to libraries? I would imagine that libraries account for far less than 45% of the revenue...ergo, publishers are seeking to address this situation.
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Old 07-29-2019, 11:17 AM   #3
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Bookmobiles...love it. Not at all a factor in today’s battle between publishers and “frictionless borrowing” coupled with marketing designed to change buyers into borrowers.

If 45% of a publishers ebook reads come from libraries....what percentage of revenue comes from selling to libraries? I would imagine that libraries account for far less than 45% of the revenue...ergo, publishers are seeking to address this situation.
Well, if you believe MacMillan, 15% of digital revenues come from libraries.
Here's a roundup of that catfight.

https://www.panoramaproject.org/news...-lending-terms

I'll merely point out that their primary competition among tradpub is BAEN, who have been trying (and apparently failing) to get their ebooks into libraries. And whose ebook prices run 30-60% lower.

Make of it what you will. I've no dog (or cat) intbat fight.

Closer to the OP:

Of the various mobile delivery systems past and present, the one that caught my eye was the "lady mobile" walking library. A reminder of how different the 30's were.

Faced with a challenge, humans will find a way.
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Old 07-30-2019, 08:50 AM   #4
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45% of the reads come from libraries, but only 15% of the revenue does? Gee, I think I understand why the publishers see this as an issue. Like I said in the other thread, pretty hard to compete with free.

Wonder why Baen can't get their books into libraries. Baen books just don't appeal to Library purchasers?
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Old 07-30-2019, 10:47 AM   #5
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My library has some Baen books (at least in paper form). A casual search shows that it has most of the Ring of Fire alternate history books published by Baen.
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Old 07-30-2019, 09:29 PM   #6
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Ah, the bookmobile! We had one that came to my school to SELL books. It was NOT a library. It was loaded with paperbacks, Dell, Scholastic, that sort. Prices ran around 50 to 75 cents. I saved for the bookmobile. I LOVED the bookmobile!

When you are young, you don't often get the chance to pick out and buy your very own books. A lot of the books I read at that time were books my dad had. Or books my grandmother bought for me. (UGH! Bobbsey Twins, UGH!)

But on my own, I got to pick out books like Sinbad and Me by Kin Platt. That's still a favorite!




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Old 07-31-2019, 03:23 AM   #7
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45% of the reads come from libraries, but only 15% of the revenue does? Gee, I think I understand why the publishers see this as an issue. Like I said in the other thread, pretty hard to compete with free.
That is the wrong way to fix the issue. Revenue per borrow (pbook or ebook) at the library is always going to be lower than a straight out sale of the book. They need to make it more appealing to buy their ebooks to make reads at library a lot less than 45%.
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Old 07-31-2019, 04:39 AM   #8
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I suspect it looks even worse for dead tree book lending?
Just a hunch
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Old 07-31-2019, 08:24 AM   #9
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That is the wrong way to fix the issue. Revenue per borrow (pbook or ebook) at the library is always going to be lower than a straight out sale of the book. They need to make it more appealing to buy their ebooks to make reads at library a lot less than 45%.
Hard to make it much more appealing that getting free books with just a click.
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Old 07-31-2019, 11:39 AM   #10
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Hard to make it much more appealing that getting free books with just a click.
You could try to compete with price. It is not only a decision between buying or library of same book. Is paying more worth it, or do you rather spend the money you have on more new cheaper books. Then wait until either price drops or live with the inconveniences of having to wait your turn from library. Price does matter. There is only so much money to go around.
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Old 07-31-2019, 11:41 AM   #11
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You could try to compete with price. It is not only a decision between buying or library of same book. Is paying more worth it, or do you rather spend the money you have on more new cheaper books. Then wait until either price drops or live with the inconveniences of having to wait your turn from library. Price does matter. There is only so much money to go around.
Common sense. Well, except for asking the publishers to compete on price with their own products being frictionlessly offered for free.
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Old 07-31-2019, 11:42 AM   #12
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Or to put it in different words: why are big publisher ebook sales declining while overall ebook sales are increasing?

Not to compete on price with their own books in library (doesn't work). But to compete on price on OTHER books.
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Old 07-31-2019, 04:59 PM   #13
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Or to put it in different words: why are big publisher ebook sales declining while overall ebook sales are increasing?

Not to compete on price with their own books in library (doesn't work). But to compete on price on OTHER books.
If you are competing on price to sell your books....your doing something wrong.
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Old 07-31-2019, 06:42 PM   #14
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When an indie book is, say, $3 and a big5 (or however many there still are this week) is $10+...

Unless it's a highly compelling big5 book, many will strongly consider the indie book.

I know, not 100% directly competing, but still.
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Old 07-31-2019, 07:20 PM   #15
DuckieTigger
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Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: USA
Device: Oasis 2, PW3
Quote:
Originally Posted by binaryhermit View Post
When an indie book is, say, $3 and a big5 (or however many there still are this week) is $10+...

Unless it's a highly compelling big5 book, many will strongly consider the indie book.

I know, not 100% directly competing, but still.
Matching the price of the $3 book wouldn't be the best idea. You can have occasional sales. Agency price gives them the power to have temporary sales. Do they use that power? Preorder incentive. Drop the price for preorders on a rotating schedule. Hey, drop it $2 sometime if you preordered weeks before release. On release regular price. More people will preorder. If the book is really good, all those preorders will spread around the word. If the book doesn't live up to the hype, hey at least you sold a bunch of preorders. Now? Why bother to preorder. It is better to just wait until you buy it when you are ready to read it. Wait for nevercoming price reduction. Lose interest in that book, find something else.
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