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Well THAT’S Inconvenient: Academic Ebooks Strike Again

A researcher here found a citation to a book she needs. There’s nothing else like it, it’s by a prominent critic about a VERY obscure author from the early decades of the 1800s, and it could contain the one nugget of information that she needs for a massive research project she’s undertaking. What if her conclusion completely match or completely contradict this other critics conclusions? She’ll look the fool.

So I looked high and low for a copy, but it turns out that the book is only available as one ebook in a package of ebooks. So that’s a bummer. Nobody will be allowed to interlibrary loan it to us, so now we’re left with the choice of either saying “sorry, that’s just something you can’t see unless you take a field trip to one of the (few) libraries that bought that package” or else buying a whole package of ebooks, which would make this one of the more expensive books in our collection.

Please tell me this isn’t the wave of the future. It breaks my poor librarian’s heart.

Published ineBooks


  1. Oh. Oh my, that is an epic pile of fail. I saw most of it coming, right up until “…in a package of ebooks,” at which point my brain exploded.

  2. Right??? *sob*

  3. Joan Joan

    Sometimes ebooks can be ILL’d. Did you ask your ILL folks to try? (If you did, forgive my presumption! I only learned this recently that some vendor agreements allow for this.) They might be able to ILL a section or chapter in any case.

    But, yeah, what a PIA. The future is not all jetpacks.

  4. Jen Jen

    Springer allows ILL, but somehow this doesn’t sound like a Springer title. Our sob story is that other campuses’ ebook packages are in our shared catalog. Our students can find these books, and want to use them, but they are then denied access. So much for sharing, right?

  5. martha martha

    Have the ebook publishers learned nothing from the online music and movie businesses? The People Will Find a Way.

  6. What is the book and obscure author?

  7. We did try ILL with no luck, and no, it’s not a Springer book.

    And I would NEVER try to obtain information illegally! I’m shocked at the suggestion!! (And will contact you in a more private forum…)

  8. My boss is quite curious as to what the title and publisher are. She also points out that it’s common for researchers to travel to an item’s location. Less common now than a few years ago, but it’s still necessary in many cases. The rub here is that it’s an electronic item, so of course it should ideally be available anywhere.

  9. I’m a little reluctant to publish the exact details right now since I’m negotiating with the publisher at the moment, but if you contact me at my gmail address (ijastram) I can supply more detail. And yes, those are exactly the two sides of this situation that the researcher and I talked over together earlier. Traveling is part of scholarship, but it feels downright insulting when the thing you want to see is right here on the very internet that we know and love ourselves. Even if it were proprietary business information we could stomach it, but literary scholarship???

    I also kind of doubt that scholars who are invited to write for these publishers would be very happy to know how limited the access to their work would be. It depends utterly on the publishers being able to sell the full package widely. Otherwise it’s as good as writing a book for a private archive.

  10. Publishers hate readers and libraries. That’s the conclusion I keep drawing.

  11. I keep wanting to put the best construction on everything, and they keep thwarting my efforts. Sigh.

  12. Well if this is the game, two can play. I got us a trial to the product. >)

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