Tag Archives: Pottermore

Lending Harry Potter ebooks in libraries – you’ll need many galleons, sickles and knuts

“The gold ones are Galleons. Seventeen silver Sickles to a Galleon and twenty-nine Knuts to a Sickle, it’s easy enough.”
JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

gringotts

HarryPotter.wikia.com

I’ve been thinking a lot about the 52 checkout/24 month lending model too much lately – it’s the focus of my next blog post on ebooks and school libraries but waking up to a news item in OverDrive this morning has prompted a post about Pottermore ebooks instead:

Basically the news was announcing that Pottermore  isupdating their library lending terms for their eBooks from their current 5 years term to 2 years or 52 checkouts (whichever comes first) for all customers and markets [and that any] Pottermore eBook purchased before this date will remain under the 5 year term until they expire. All new eBook purchases made 15 January 2015 and forward will be under the 2 year/52 checkout model. All Pottermore audiobooks will remain available  5 year lending term”.

Source: OverDrive Marketplace, 15 January 2016

Pottermore titles are currently only available through OverDrive – so this news doesn’t affect school libraries with Wheeler’s eplatform or Bolinda BorrowBox digital collections, however, the trend of publishers offering digital content to Libraries on the 52 checkout/24 month model is worrying to me and affects all libraries with digital collections. I wish publishers would understand that every ebook that is replaced after two years in a school library with a fixed and in many cases small ebook budget possibly results in lesser known and new authors not being selected, purchased and showcased.

hermione

School librarians are passionate about getting kids to experience the magic of reading and to be able to read from the widest range of authors, titles and formats as possible…and something I feel Hermione would approve of.

Here is what I am thinking regarding this pricing/lending model development…

Here’s yet another publisher choosing the 52 checkout/24 month model for digital content. Ironically the prices so far are the same as they were asking under the 5 year model, so I’m assuming this is an opportunity for Pottermore to earn more money from a very captive Library market. Changing the lending or lease period but keeping the price the same is a bit like saying “the price of a loaf of bread hasn’t gone up, but we’ll now only sell you half a loaf for the same amount”. Its not just school libraries affected, this will also impact public libraries with multiple copies in their digital collections – Auckland Libraries have 15 copies of Harry Potter and the philosopher’s stone with holds on all copies – showing that the books are still perennially popular in all types of libraries.

The Harry Potter series was eagerly included in the very first order my school placed when we introduced digital content to our school in 2013. We own 2 copies of the earlier ebooks in the series and 1 copy of the others. Leasing at just over NZ$30.00 per copy for a five year term (expiring May 2018) seemed like a very reasonable balance between price and lending model [ironically I had been planning a post about what a great compromise between the one copy/one user model and a time metered model this was!]. If we had purchased these on the 52 checkout/24 month model our first copies would have expired last year.

Let me talk a little about that ‘reasonable balance between price and lending model’:

If we wanted to buy an extra ebook copy of Harry Potter and the philosopher’s stone today it would cost my school midway between the retail price of NZ$21.99 for the paperback and NZ$36.99 for the hardback. The ebook version of Harry Potter and the philosopher’s stone is currently available in the Amazon.com.au store for AU$9.36 (NZ$9.96), and in an enhanced edition (containing video) in Apple iBooks store at NZ$13.99, and at US$8.64 at the official Pottermore site. There is a considerable mark up on the ebook price for libraries versus retail – which I get, I really do – and I’ve said in an earlier post that the advantage to libraries of digital content being immediately available, not wearing out, being overdue or lost is worthy of a [reasonable] premium on the retail price….but add in the time based lending model of two years I’m feeling like I’ve lost an arm and a leg for the privilege. It’s not the price on its own that worries me, it’s the lending term at that price.

In our Library collection we have several copies of the Harry Potter series titles in hardback in both our Junior and Middle Libraries, the audiobooks on CD, and physical copies of the books in Spanish, German and French. I was considering buying the digital version of the foreign language titles to support our language learners but now that the purchasing model has changed I’ll have to revisit the idea or at least think about it some more and possibly survey more potential readers. The often touted publisher argument for needing to replace physical books as a justification for a time based lending model rubs a bit hard here. Our hardback copies of Harry Potter have lasted really very well. I haven’t had to replace the physical books every two years unless lost or damaged by a student and in those situations the replacement cost is met by the student not the Library.

Our 5 physical copies of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone have been issued 224 times (14.93 per year for all current copies owned since 2001). Our two ebook copies have been checked out 75 times since purchase in May 2013 but 59 times in the two years between May 2013 and May 2015 (29.5 per year for 2 copies) – hardly 52 checkouts within two years per copy even though this is a title that is more popular in ebook format than physical.

I’m confident the ebooks will still be popular in 2018 and we will repurchase them, as these are titles that I regard as ‘core’ to our fiction collections and it’s essential to have them in as many formats as possible, but I probably won’t repurchase multiple copies under a 52/24 model. It’s been my experience that many kids who start reading a library copy of Harry Potter invariably buy the whole series themselves, supporting my theory that by helping to create and support readers, school libraries are also developing and nurturing future book buyers.

See also this article from Nate Hoffelder in the Digital Reader about changes to the revenues at Pottermore prompting their decision to sell the ebooks outside of the Pottermore website.
Guide to Galleons, sickles and knuts from the Harry Potter Lexicon

Note on Harry Potter Audiobooks: I’m relieved that Pottermore are retaining the five year ownership model for the audiobooks we have purchased (it will be interesting to see if this changes). Downloadable audiobooks are fantastic not only for student enjoyment (who can resist Stephen Fry!) but especially for our kids who are reading at levels below their peers and for those with any type of reading difficulty. The Harry Potter titles in downloadable audio are expensive (NZ$115-130 each) and possibly out of reach for many school libraries (considering that a full set of 7 books is going to cost several hundred dollars). Compare the Library eaudio price to the retail price at Audible.com.au AU$39.95 (NZ41.50), and Pottermore US$24.95…

Merlin’s beard!

Pottermore, iBooks, Amazon.com.au and audible.com.au websites accessed Saturday 16 January for pricing information.

Digital collection development – balancing the mix of ownership/lending models

ebooks.001Our collection currently comprises almost 2/3 one copy/one user titles and 1/3 licensed titles (either metered or expiring after a period of time).

This ratio isn’t what we were planning when we began selecting ebooks and audiobooks for our digital collection, but it has evolved this way over time. Although we would prefer to buy more content on a one copy/one user model a lot of very popular fiction is only available on a licensed basis and to complicate the ratio further, some of the one copy/one user material is ridiculously expensive.

One of the aims of our digital collection is to entice students to read; and therefore the offering must be as appealing as the physical collection otherwise it risks being seen as only a supplementary, fringe or niche collection. In order to meet the objective of enticement, we’ve simply had to ‘bite the bullet’ and buy a considerable amount of licensed content in order to provide the popular material that students will want to borrow.

The bulk of the metered titles (and nearly 1/4 of the whole collection) are titles sold on the 26 metered model (predominantly from HarperCollins US and UK and their imprints, plus  a small number of titles from Disney). I’ve grown to accept and ultimately love this model because although 26 may not seem high (and it’s not high if kids accidentally check ebooks out and then return them without either downloading or reading them…) but it is similar to the number of uses a popular paperback might get. When titles have expired after they’ve been regularly checked out then the decision to repurchase is an easy one. At least if a title isn’t popular and doesn’t go out much it doesn’t expire in your collection until that magic number of 26 is reached! Often the prices are very reasonable and it’s not difficult to feel justified when adding extra copies of titles in high demand.

The 52 checkout/24 month model is one that I initially wasn’t keen on. But now I feel these titles will grow as we can now purchase more content from Pan Macmillan, which has an excellent price point for this lending term. The chart above shows the number of titles (rather than the number of copies we own) so it’s a little misleading because we often will have 2-3 copies of Macmillan titles due to their popularity. Combine the high interest of their titles with a very reasonable price (and one where you do not feel you are being extravagant with the schools money if you purchase extra copies when demand is high) and you can only feel good about the balance here.

However, I do feel that all the publishers offering ebooks on this basis have been a little disingenuous regarding the 52 checkouts. It’s very difficult to consume 52 checkouts within a 24 month period – especially if the favoured lending period by students is 3 weeks. Even if a title is issued as soon as it’s returned, then the highest number of checkouts we might expect with 24 months is just under 35 (104 weeks divided by three). Of course there will be some students who return a book quickly and well before the three week loan period is up – but it is unlikely that any title will be on issue continuously and reach 52 checkouts.  Where we have reached high checkout numbers on some of these titles, we have only been able to achieve this by owning multiple copies (so no single copy is responsible for 52 checkouts within 24 months, no matter how popular). The situation may be quite different in a public library and that’s the reason why I keep suggesting that the terms for school libraries need to be considered differently.

The 36 checkout model portion is made up solely with titles from the Non-US Penguin/Random House family – including Australian, New Zealand and UK content. Whilst it looks like we may have given this model a solid endorsement because we have already purchased a considerable number of titles in a short space of time… I’m very much in ‘two minds’ about it. As time passes and I peruse the additional titles I’d like to add, I find that I am unable to make the leap and push “purchase” due to an almost emotional reaction to the pricing. Perhaps 36 checkouts is a little more realistic than 52 within 24 months, but the price point of many of the titles, which will expire after only two years, seems expensive. The mitigating factor is the popularity and desirability of many of the titles and series. However, some imprints from this publisher (think of those nice fat annotated Penguin classics) lend themselves to the one copy/one user model in a school library context in my opinion.

The 60 month (or 5 years) model that represents a tiny sliver in the chart at less than 1% of the collection – is made up solely of the 7 Harry Potter books in both ebook and audiobook formats. These titles, published by Pottermore, are currently only available through OverDrive, but they are extremely popular with students.

Lastly the 12 month time restriction feels prohibitive and dare I say mean; and before I purchase any title under this model, there is quite a bit of soul searching and calculating to try and predict how popular the titles might be to justify the cost over such a short period. I’m also very conscious of buying 12 month titles towards the end of the year knowing full well that they will expire in exactly 12 months and one can only plan and hope that there will be budget available the following year. Despite there being a vast range of content from Simon & Schuster and DK (Dorling Kindersley) available we’ve only purchased 21 titles so far.

If we had only been able to add one copy/one user content then we would not have a collection that is appealing to readers as the one we have built up over 2 1/2 years, but planning for and dealing with the variety of lending models and price points can be rather complicated and exhausting.

Interestingly, if we were to buy exactly the same titles today under current ownership models  – then many of those that had been available under the one copy/one user model would now only be available on a licensed basis.

Here’s what the breakdown would look like today:

ebooks.002What’s changed?

There are 223 titles that we had previously purchased under the one copy/one user model from Random House Australia, Random House New Zealand and the bulk from Random House Children’s Publishing Ltd (RHCP UK). When  I added these to the recent purchases we’ve made from the newly released Penguin and Random House titles they add up to a sizeable chunk of licensed content at 13% of the collection – all of which would expire after 36 checkouts or 24 months.

There were also 48 titles purchased from Allen & Unwin before they switched from the one copy/one user model to the 52 checkout or 24 months model.

Now that our collection has reached the proportions shown in the earlier chart, I believe it’s time to look at formulating a more rigorous digital collection development policy that caps the amount of metered content. This needs to be done otherwise each year a significant amount of our budget will have to be allocated to replacing content (which feels rather unpalatable if it has not been checked out much – no matter how desirable it is to have it in the collection). Some titles might be purchased with expiration in mind – but only if the price is reasonable at the time of purchase and where you anticipate that the title won’t be needed in the future or at least not as many copies.

Note: I’m still planning on writing detailed posts about each of these lending model and ownership types, which I hope will help others come to understand how they all fit together. For some libraries how the collection is made up may look very different to ours and some libraries may find that shorter ownership periods may suit their collection and community better, depending on their requirements. I do believe that all these lending models need to be incorporated into our collection if we wish to continue to offer a wide range of attractive content that mirrors and supports the physical one.

Pottermore…extend the Harry Potter experience

I received an email this morning telling me that the first chapters of the Prisoner of Azkaban have been unlocked on Pottermore…sigh…I have been a member for a few months and have yet to get started and explore the first chapter of the Philosopher’s stone, let alone pass all the tasks of the Chamber of Secrets and be a third year student at Hogwarts ready to tackle the adventures of the third book.

I have blogged recently about the James Potter fan fiction series as a way of giving a Harry Potter fan more of the stories they love (my view on James Potter series book 3 “the Vault of destinies” is coming soon...) Exploring this interactive website with lots of extra written content by JK Rowling is another way of getting more out of the books.

From JK Rowling:

Mrs Hewett says:

My problem is that I  have so many other books to read at the moment, and even though it is the school holidays I don’t have a lot of spare time to explore Pottermore, BUT  it looks like a whole heap of fun! Should I manage to get back online (remembering it often rains in the holidays…) and I meet you on Pottermore….’OwlStrike’… might be me 🙂

Go to the full site here

and have a sneak peek at the sort of things you can explore through Pottermore by watching this:

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