There is some question as to whether one can even speak of ‘selling’ and, correspondingly, ‘owning’ eBooks. The right to permanent possession, including perpetual access and preservation rights, is the exception rather than the norm in eBook licensing.Libraries and publishers are still experimenting with how to purchase or license eBooks and then how to lend them to patrons
There is concern about the possibility of modification, retraction or withdrawal of an eBook. This
happened in 2009 when Amazon deleted some editions from customers who had purchased some eBooks. Memory institutions need to be able to ensure the stability of eBook content in their collections and maintain control over any withdrawal or de-accessioning of that content.
Preservation of eBooks is not free. It is expensive to identify content for preservation, gather it, perform initial actions on it, and then preserve that content for the long term. Some approaches that exist are:
- Collective model. Such as HathiTrust.
- Subscription service. Portico
- Government support. The national libraries of the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, etc.
- OEB (Open eBook Publication Structure) superseded by EPUB
- Microsoft LIT50
- Text Encoding Initiative
Recommended Actions for Libraries and other institutions:
- Specify who has responsibility for preserving eBook content
- Co-ordinate with other institutions, to eliminate preservation gaps and avoid duplicating efforts
- When acquiring or licensing eBook content, ensure the acquisition includes preservation rights, and prohibits DRM technologies in the preservation copy acquired from the vendor;
- Consider and understand what preservation rights are provided when eBooks are licensed and exactly how long-term access will be ensured by the publisher;
- Articulate preservation policies for the handling of embedded objects, including articulation of legal rights to the content, and workflow requirements to ascertain preservation risks for that embedded content;
- Encourage publishers to participate in preservation institutions to ensure the long-term viability of their eBook content; and
- Invest in maturing existing characterization tools, and extending the toolset. Establish whether there is a preservation requirement somehow to maintain the hardware,