In late 2008, Doody Enterprises began to add eBook information to its databases to let our readers know which of the books Doody’s indexes and reviews were available electronically. Our eBook Discoverability Program has grown to nine partners since then. Doody’s Core Titles and Doody’s Review Service now include data about titles in such major eBook packages as Books@Ovid, ebrary, MDConsult and Mosby’s Nursing Consult (both from Elsevier), MedicinesComplete, MyiLibrary, NetLibrary, PsychiatryOnline, R2 Digital Library, and STAT!Ref.
Books that are available electronically have a red link under the title information in the search results list stating, “eBook/Digital Version available!” This link goes to a page that displays the logos of the participating aggregators who offer this eBook and provides links to the aggregators’ websites.
Our goal is to make Doody’s the central clearinghouse for eBook information for librarians. We have already targeted certain vendors, but decided to send out a survey to make sure we hadn’t missed any sources. On May 7, 2010, we sent a survey to more than 800 subscribers to Doody’s Review Service to find out which vendors librarians use to purchase eBooks and to use that information to improve the comprehensiveness of our eBook Discoverability Program. We also wanted input from collection development librarians to help us prioritize which vendors not yet participating we should approach first.
What We Learned
May was a busy time for surveys, but we were lucky to get 173 completed surveys for a response rate of 21%. The first survey question asked: “Which of the following aggregators/vendors has your library used to obtain eBooks? Please check all that apply.” It listed 25 eBook providers/collections in alphabetical order. The 22 most used, in descending order, are:
- STAT!Ref (71.3%)
- MDConsult (69.7%)
- Books@Ovid (61.2%)
- NetLibrary (49.4%)
- AccessMedicine, AccessAnesthesiology, etc. (McGraw-Hill) (46.6%)
- Rittenhouse R2 (37.6%)
- OVID LWW eBooks (37.6%)
- Gale (31.5%)
- ebrary (28.7%)
- ScienceDirect (Elsevier) (27%)
- Wiley InterScience (27%)
- American Psychiatric Publishing (PsychiatryOnline) (26.4%)
- SpringerLink (24.7%)
- Mosby’s Nursing Consult (22.5%)
- American Psychological Association (PsycBOOKS) (14%)
- ProQuest (12.4%)
- The National Academies Press (10.1%)
- Thieme (10.1%)
- informaworld/Informa Healthcare (9.6%)
- MyiLibrary (9.6%)
- CRCnetBASE (NEUROSCIENCEnetBASE, etc.)
- EBL (Ebook Library) (6.2%)
Ten of these 25 are already part of the Doody’s eBook Discoverability Program. They represent 8 discoverability partners and 10 products, since there are 2 Elsevier products (MDConsult and Mosby’s Nursing Consult) and 2 Ovid products (Books@Ovid and the Ovid LWW eBooks). Of the 15 remaining, the 10 most heavily used eBook providers not yet partnering with Doody’s are:
- Wiley InterScience
- The National Academies Press
- informaworld/Informa Healthcare
With question two, we hoped to discover any eBook providers we had inadvertently missed or didn’t know about: “If there are other eBook vendors that you use, please list them below.” Of the 13 additional vendors survey respondents listed, two appeared twice: Credo Reference and Sage.
- Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press
- Credo Reference (2)
- EBSCO (recently bought NetLibrary)
- Joint Commission International
- Morgan & Claypool
- Oxford University Press/Oxford Scholarship Online
- Sage (2)
- Unbound Medicine
These responses illustrate that the eBook market is far from being settled.
Traditional medical print book vendors have had to find creative ways to participate in the eBook market. Matthews Book Company has an agreement to market ebrary books. YBP makes it easy for librarians to order eBooks from ebrary, EBL, and NetLibrary. Rittenhouse has developed its own eBook platform, R2.
The addition of Morgan & Claypool poses the interesting question of eBooks that are born digital. This model will no doubt become more prevalent in the future and to be comprehensive, Doody’s databases will need to include these titles. This will involve changes to our current processes which are based on a print book model. We anticipate that our reviewers will receive eBooks rather than print copies to review and ideally will need to evaluate the platform as well as the content.
Unbound Medicine raises the issue of eBook content for handheld devices. Unbound Medicine is one of the best-known providers of content for handheld devices, such as the iPhone®, iPod touch®, BlackBerry®, Android™, Windows Mobile®, and Palm® devices. Handheld devices are ubiquitous in hospitals and medical schools, and more and more publishers are offering content for them. AccessMedicine, for example, allows subscribers to download portions of their texts to handhelds, but not an entire book. MDConsult’s mobile version contains a subset of the full desktop version content that has been optimized for mobile usage and Thieme Publishers recently advertised sample content from its Atlas of Anatomy for the iPad®. Doody’s will be exploring ways we might provide this information to our readers as well.
Question 3 was designed to help Doody Enterprises prioritize which vendors our subscribers most want to see added to the database. The question read:
Doody’s databases currently contain eBook information from the American Psychiatric Association, Books@Ovid, ebrary, MDConsult, MedicinesComplete, Mosby’s Nursing Consult, MyiLibrary, NetLibrary, R2, and STAT!Ref. Please check the names of the eBook providers whose information you would MOST like Doody’s to add in the future. If the vendor is not listed, please write in the name below this list.
Fourteen eBook providers were listed alphabetically. Respondents prioritized them in the following order:
- ScienceDirect (53.7%)
- AccessMedicine (49%)
- Wiley InterScience (44.9%)
- SpringerLink (41.5%)
- Thieme (25.2%)
- PsycBOOKS (23.8%)
- National Academies Press (21.8%)
- informaworld (19%)
- Gale (16.3%)
- Karger (12.9%)
- EBL (12.2%)
- ProQuest (10.0%)
- CRCnetBASE (7.5%)
- CogNet (4.1%)
Not surprisingly, there was a correlation between the providers/packages most libraries used and the ones they most wanted added to Doody’s. AccessMedicine, PsycBOOKS, ScienceDirect, SpringerLink, and Wiley InterScience were high on both lists, so they will be priorities to add as discoverability partners. Likewise, some of the less used providers (CogNet, CRCnetBASE, EBL, and Karger) were ranked as lower priorities to be added. One exception was Gale; while it ranked high on the list of eBook providers used, there was less demand to add its eBook information to Doody’s, possibly because its health reference eBooks are aimed at the general reader rather than medical professionals.
Two respondents said that their libraries do not use eBooks. It is possible that there are other librarians who do not buy eBooks and therefore didn’t bother to fill out the survey, but I suspect there are very few health sciences libraries these days that don’t offer eBooks to their patrons.
One person commented that he would want to know whether the online book is different from the print version (e.g., some vendors are not permitted to provide all graphs and tables due to copyright) and whether titles can be purchased a la carte or only as part of a package. Doody’s can work with publishers to make their eBook options clearer to our subscribers.
We appreciate all the Doody’s Review Service subscribers who took the time to complete the survey. Your responses have given us a much better picture of library eBook acquisition and which eBook providers are most heavily used. We will use your responses and comments to make the Doody’s eBook Discoverability Program as comprehensive as we possibly can.