Avoiding ebook "big deals": Alternatives to ebook backlists

Julia L. Proctor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to assert that libraries should actively seek and request alternatives to purchasing older ebook content rather than buying large ebook backlists. Currently publishers are offering the equivalent of the "big deal" with monographs through ebook backlists, and this is not a model that can or should be sustained by libraries. Design/methodology/approach: This paper discusses experience the author gained through evaluating major ebook backlist promotional offers from 2012 and 2013, reviews library literature concerning ebook use, and reviews current purchase methods such as patron-driven acquisition and firm ordering as alternatives to purchasing large ebook backlist packages. Findings: There does not appear to be agreement in library literature about use and preference for ebooks, but there does appear to be a consensus that users expect the availability of ebook content. However, that expectation is not reason enough to purchase older content in large quantities in a format that still has problematic limitations. Patron-driven acquisition and targeted firm ordering allow libraries to buy older content in ebook format with more information about the need for that content. Also, publishers should become more involved in offering alternatives to ebook backlist purchase models. Originality/value: This discussion sheds light on the fact that while the ebook format may be new, the content and the purchase models often are not. Libraries need to advocate for effective purchase models now rather than becoming dependent on publishers to provide content libraries already own.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-307
Number of pages7
JournalNew Library World
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Library and Information Sciences


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