Electronic information resources continue to take a growing share of the corporate library budget. eBooks are no exception. While the transition from print to digital books is happening slowly, a PCG survey predicted that eBooks will have accounted for nearly 12% of corporate book spending in 2013.
Some benefits of eBooks, when compared to print books, are readily apparent. These include:
- Ability to highlight and bookmark content,
- Ability to share information easily and instantaneously,
- 24/7 access to content regardless of location,
- Text to speech capabilities,
- Ability to keyword search, and
- Convenience of downloading content to portable devices.
In a study conducted by Springer, pertaining to eBooks from the end user perspective, it was found that convenience, accessibility, and enhanced functionality are the primary benefits of eBooks.
eBooks Continue the “Look-up” Role in Research
According to the Springer study, users anticipated that in five years time, eBooks will be the fastest option for research-related activities. Overall, the Springer survey concluded that users are most interested in eBooks for research purposes or in a search environment where the user needs to locate specific information. Users do not read eBooks in their entirety, but rather utilize them to find specific answers to their questions. Books have traditionally filled the “look up” function in research, and eBooks are assuming that same role. The difference with eBooks is that users can search an entire range of eBooks at once, to “look up” the information, rather than one book at a time.
Unlike journal searches, which are heavily focused on currency and a small collection of specific titles, eBooks are not as narrowly valued. eBook users tend to utilize a varied combination of titles and content – primarily as they pertain to research-related activities and information finding. This “long tail” of eBook usage means that collection breadth and depth is of utmost importance. Aggregations of eBooks are valued, as much as individual titles that may be specifically requested by patrons. In this manner, eBooks do take on the characteristics of an aggregated periodical database, where the range of periodicals covering a given subject is as important as specific titles in that collection.
Search Utilities Are Key to Realizing eBook Benefits
In order to access the “long tail” of eBooks pertaining to a topic, and take advantage of a wide range of eBooks, the user must be able to:
- Access the eBook collection
- Formulate context driven searches into the collection
- Navigate and manage the results of those searches
For corporate researchers, it is essential that access to information be integrated into their workflows. Often, this means allowing for access to search an eBook collection directly from a company intranet. Other times, this means links to an eBook collection placed within actual workflow applications such as a third-party CRM or LMS. Both methods mean that a corporate employee needn’t spend time navigating to their search; it is right at their fingertips, with no interruption of workflow. RSS feeds and email alerting take the integration a few steps further. After discovering a particular search, author, or subject of interest, researchers can often set up RSS feeds or email alerts that automatically send new related content directly to them. These features can remove the access barrier entirely.
The ability to conduct context-driven searches of eBook collections is equally important to realizing the benefits of eBooks. Oftentimes, in research, a particular problem or question is at hand and the necessary resources to solve that problem or answer that question are unknown. With eBooks in particular, as identified by the Springer study, the “long tail” means that the potential to find a single nugget of vital information within a previously unknown eBook is high. By giving corporate researchers the power to conduct searches into an eBook collection based on keywords, text, author, date, subject, etc., they have the ability to find the most relevant information in the least amount of time.
Finally, the ability to navigate and manage search results is essential. Keyword highlighting as well as source type, subject, date range and other limiters make results management fast and easy. Many eBook vendors offer the ability to find similar results if a particular eBook in the result list resonates with the end user. It is also here that the ability to save particular searches and particular results to a personal folder comes in. This prevents data from being lost in the shuffle of the work day.
If the user can combine the eBook content with other content elements (magazines, newspapers, etc.) using the same aforementioned search utilities, they gain the opportunity for greater discovery with the book at the core. Often, information related to the book content can be found in periodicals, reports or other information items. A robust online reference collection which features multiple content types creates a greater research value than those content types when searched alone.
eBooks are becoming a growing part of corporate research activities. They can be consumed anytime and anywhere, and are easily shared. The ability to search a collection of eBooks by keyword or subject means that they serve an even larger function in research “look up,” especially if eBooks are combined with other sources such as journals, trade magazines, and reports. eBooks can be accessed directly within user workflows and can even be sent directly to a user via email or RSS feed. All of this means that eBooks are an efficient way to collect and disseminate information within your organization.
With EBSCO’s multi-database searching and over 300,000 eBooks and more than 375 full-text and secondary research databases, EBSCO can provide the most complete and thorough literature review on virtually any topic important to your organization. In addition, EBSCO’s breadth of content and powerful search capabilities allow end-users to discover essential content they may not have known even existed; a key element to eBook discovery and usage. Users of eBooks on EBSCOhost can see highlighted keywords and most relevant sections of the eBooks they retrieve, making their search experience fast and easy.
There are several options for purchasing eBooks to become a part of the library’s permanent collection. Each year, our in-house librarians develop new Subject Sets and Featured Collections of front-list titles pertaining to a particular subject of study or practice. These collections are smaller than the subscriptions and are relevant to researchers and practitioners alike. They can be purchased in their entirety, or, used as a guide for selecting titles that are of particular interest.
Our large subject-based subscription collections provide your organization with a jump-start. Three of our corporate collections, BusinessCore, EngineeringCore and ITCore provide a dynamic collection of thousands of eBook titles on a yearly or multi-year basis, depending on your need.
EBSCOhost Collection Manager (ECM) acts as our eBook marketplace where customers can pick and choose single titles based on various criteria including subject, author, title, publisher, etc. It is within ECM that patrons also have the ability to create a Patron Driven Acquisition profile, which allows for the development of an eBook collection to be made available to end users without the requirement to purchase until meaningful use is commenced. Finally, our in-house librarians are available to create a customized collection that is catered to your library’s needs based on size, cost, and goals.
All of our corporate eBook products, including the subscriptions and perpetually owned featured collections, custom collections and subject sets, can be searched alongside our hundreds of subject-specific full-text database subscriptions. This means that researchers can access multiple types of content, such as magazines, journals, trade publications, industry reports, company reports and eBooks, all from one search.
After conducting a search, a user is presented with multiple ways to refine their search to identify the content they need. The user is given a comprehensive result list with keywords highlighted and multiple publication types: eBooks, academic journals, reports, magazines, reviews, etc. In addition, users can refine their results by filtering on specific parameters such as whether or not they have associated full text, the source type, and the subject.
At EBSCO, we are aware of the fact that many of our corporate customers are not professional researchers. Ultimately, searching is about finding the information you need in the fastest way possible. This is why we provide users with the ability to search multiple content types, including our eBooks, in a way that no other eBook provider can match.