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Pilot Study on Remote E-Lending

Pilot Study on Remote E-Lending


5 June 2015

The remote e-lending pilot study, jointly commissioned by the Society of Chief Librarians and The Publishers Association, funded via the British Library Trust and Arts Council England (ACE) and developed and delivered by MTM London, has been instrumental in helping stakeholders - publishers, agents, authors, booksellers and libraries - better understand the impact of remote ebook lending in English public libraries.

The measures, as recommended by William Sieghart, were put in place to try to establish whether a remote e-lending service might disrupt the delicate ecology of the print and, still nascent, digital market and that a fair balance existed between those who loaned the books for free and those who wanted to be rewarded for creating, publishing and selling the book. The report will be useful in further shaping publishers' understanding of the e-lending landscape and their policies (commercial terms, titles they make available and appropriate lending conditions frictions) and will help to inform ongoing discussions with authors and agents.
E-lending accounts for only 5% of loans, yet librarians believed that in the event of an extension of e-lending, they would spend up to 25% of their book budget on ebooks and would spend the majority of that on the most popular titles. However, the results also show that library footfall could drop, with those who use the remote elending service less likely to visit the library premises.
In terms of users, the results of the pilot indicate that while remote e-lending may drive up usage of the service, it would currently be from a very small, and more affluent, user base.

The results are of particular concern to booksellers. This research indicates a possible reduction in the propensity to buy new physical books and visit bookshops amongst e-book borrowers. The research was inconclusive as to whether e-book lending leads to greater e-book purchasing.
There is no Public Lending Right for ebooks when borrowed remotely. All parties note that it is critically important that authors receive fair payment each time their works are borrowed as well as on the initial licence to the library. The future development of any remote e-lending model will have to have this principle at its core.

To download the Statement click here. For the full report on the findings click here.

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