Flexible eBook solutions and the Coronavirus

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What do the development of flexible eBook solutions have to do with Coronavirus?

Actually, as we found out, quite a lot. In 2020, in the midst of the pandemic we launched the new Flexible eBook Solutions, which includes the Single Titles model allowing users to pick and choose a minimum of 20 titles per order from a mix of disciplines and all copyright years. Why did we decide to offer the Single Titles model at Springer Nature?  
The pandemic further clarified the importance of different content types to suit different research goals and areas, a robust system for remote access, clear discovery and access solutions from publishers, and innovative and customer centric business models that allow institutions to enhance their holdings quickly.
Being a publisher in the fields of STM and HSS, we are eager to keep track of new developments in the industry and the changing needs of our customers. The pandemic accelerated the move into online learning and the need for digital resources, particularly eBooks and textbooks, grew.
Covid-19 has reinforced and accelerated a lot of existing trends, including a preferred remote access method, which was heavily discussed at the Australian Government Libraries Summit 2021 that took place in August.  Librarians spoke about how there was a case for library systems enhancement and how usage and the role of demand driven acquisition programmes have become even more relevant.
Chiara Annulli, who is responsible for references, electronic resources and economics databases at the Luiss Guido Carli Library in Italy, says her institution chose to license single titles in addition to their existing eBook collections because of the changing demands due to the effects of Covid-19. Their strategy is to expand their collection increasingly through eBooks collections focusing on their disciplines in Law, Economics, Finance and Political Science. Single titles licenses are always targeted and used for specific requests from patrons and contribute to increasing their eTextbooks collection. It also provides a way to license requested or recommended titles very quickly and makes it available to the user in less than 48 hours, says Annulli.
This worked well for their patrons while the library was closed during the pandemic, who could access resources quickly and remotely from their homes. Even though the library is open again since May 2020, and classes are held on campus once more, the institution continues to licence eBooks due to requests from faculty.
The importance of eTextbooks during the pandemic was highlighted after we launched the 500 free eTextbook campaign in July 2020, which saw 1bn downloads of free chapters. As a result, we received many requests from libraries about how to continue to access eTextbooks for their students. The Single Titles model was the solution and as a result large numbers of eTextbooks have been licenced in this way.
Lynne Finalyson, Acquisitions Librarian at University of Cape Town Libraries, also reported that the pandemic had an impact on their decision to license eBooks and told us how the Single Titles model had allowed them the flexibility to respond to eBook requests. Their aim was discoverability and accessibility for their users. ‘We like to purchase eBooks on the same platform as our journal titles as this enhances the discoverability to both books and journals in a single search’, states Finalyson.
Previously single titles could only be licensed through aggregators, now customers can license single titles directly from the source. Licensing direct includes a number of benefits to libraries and their users, as Annulli points out, ‘the benefits of the Springer Nature Single Titles model are the usability and the speed of the order workflow as well as continuous access and no DRM’.  Plus, buying direct offers unlimited concurrent users for textbooks, full book interlibrary loan and MyCopy printing service.
The acquisition of single titles is now even easier for institutions with our new eBook selector tool. The tool is available via the Librarian Portal and your licensing manger can arrange access for you. Once access is set up, you can order individual books with flexible invoicing through the tool.
So to the answer, why did we launch the flexible eBook solutions? We listened to the needs of our customers. But just like the coronavirus has accelerated the move to blended learning within the academic library community so too, has it quickened us to move in a new direction.
To find out more about our Flexible eBook Models visit springernature.com/ebooks or contact us at libraryrelations@springernature.com