Publishing Ebooks Securely
Using Ebook DRM to distribute library ebooks securely
The digital publishing challenge for Libraries
Libraries are expected to act as repositories of a nation’s heritage and to provide and administer large collections including easily damaged works that cannot be replaced. It does not seem unreasonable to allow a library to recover the costs of conservation from the users of the documents as well as from the nation state. Historically it has been considered reasonable for authors to recover income from lending, although now that electronic document copying is trivial, the nature, function and role of lending libraries seem increasingly under question by some.
Libraries also have to be able to account for the number of individual copyright books read a year and to make sure that lending items are recovered or replaced. There is no ‘free-for-all’ or giveaway to all comers. It is not the Internet model of use anywhere copy everywhere.
Libraries have a strong tradition for being impartial and making knowledge available without fear or favour. They still have larger collections of published work than the Internet currently has available. That information could be made generally available if the economic case can be made. Libraries using ebook DRM technologies such as those provided by Locklizard to administer their rights may be able to increase their readership and their income as well as recovering necessary costs for storage and conservation.
Converting Physical Books to Ebooks
Libraries have previously controlled documents by not allowing them to leave their premises except under controlled conditions. But that creates serious limitations on facilitating academic study and review. This poses the question of how, in the digital age, books and documents can be distributed without harming the economic mechanisms needed to pay for their support infrastructure.
Using Locklizard ebook DRM it is possible to convert to a model where physical copies are hardly ever touched or distributed except for academic study or for public exhibitions, and all lending is done using DRM controlled digital versions.
Some have considered that libraries should be able to operate in two modes.
- The easiest to address is where the documents are already produced in PDF format. This has been the format of choice for print publishing for a long time now and is very well catered for. Storage requirements and costs for electronic copies are much lower and cheaper. Locklizard ebook DRM products exclusively handle the native PDF format, and can apply key controls for monitoring and accounting.
- Existing documents are more complicated. But thanks to document scanning systems you can scan existing documents direct to PDF with reduced possibilities of damaging the original (any exposure to bright light is not considered good). The key difference as against documents prepared in PDF is the art of the bookbinder in producing the covers, the binding, the inclusion of illustrations and their technical preparation, the endpapers and so on. These combine to produce a work of art quite separate from the text and flat printed illustration. They also produce a depth that is absent from electronic works. So although they will all have scanned editions the originals will still have their place. A fine example of this point may be found by looking at the World Heritage Site entry on the history of the Magna Carta, two copies of which have been in the British Library since the 1620’s. But for lending purposes having PDF versions of the originals greatly decreases cost of storage and availability.
Controlling ebook usage
Converting to electronic books can save on administration time and costs. By adding ebook DRM you can then control usage, enforce lending due dates automatically, and restrict the locations where ebooks can be used.
Locklizard ebook DRM can help with:
- monitoring the number of times ebooks are opened (read).
- controlling the amount of time ebooks may be borrowed for. Borrowing periods may be varied after the book is out on loan.
- allowing or denying printing.
- recording each time an ebook is printed. Being able to count the number of prints made of non-copyright works might be a useful addition when looking for raising extra revenues.
- adding a watermark to viewed content to make it unattractive to take screenshots (i.e. by a cellphone) by identifying the user of the review copy. Watermarks should not be so obtrusive that they prevent reviewers from being able to carry out their role effectively. Locklizard ebook DRM provides a wide range of watermarking capability to support this.
- limiting use of ebooks to inside a library. Generally libraries have been limiting access to a specific IP range, being that of the library network but that has been by network access control. Ebook DRM controls provided by Locklizard include use limitation by an individual IP address or by a range of IPs. This can be set at the system level or the customer level, allowing you to sub-license other libraries with their own restricted licenses. This may address the use of BYOD devices that would have to use the library hot spot to login, and thus be limited by the range of the WiFi transmitters, and still retaining control if the ebook is taken out of the library locality.
- allowing offline use (no Internet connection required) whilst still enforcing DRM controls.
- enabling ebooks to be sold. Although libraries sometimes sell off books from their collections it is feasible through DRM to be able to convert from a ‘lending’ license to selling an electronic book. Locklizard ebook DRM has the flexibility to provide for one or more ‘lending’ periods that can be converted if an ebook is purchased by allowing the end date of access to be altered or providing a different copy with unlimited access.
- making available whole collections as well as individual works on a single device. Locklizard ebook DRM supports this by allowing a library to lock documents onto a USB stick, along with the decryption keys and a Viewer (so users do not need to install any software to view protected ebooks). Ebooks can be licensed piecemeal – so thousands of ebooks can be protected to USB but only those the user has paid for (or borrowed) can be accessed. This is a very cost effective way of making available (for an appropriate fee) access to major literary collections whilst getting a return for the librarian costs of maintaining them.
So there are many positive benefits that can be realised by libraries using Locklizard ebook DRM solutions to control access to and use of their classical and modern collections. Perhaps the most important are the ability to maintain a positive relationship with the Copyright Collecting Societies whilst embracing digitized publication, and the ability to create new income streams to help defray the costs of conservation and the work of curators in maintaining the great classical collections that are the bedrock of our literary and artistic history. Also, being able to vastly reduce the amount of physical storage needed for modern publications that do not require printed copies for distribution or for archive would be a positive contribution to cost reduction.