Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Digitization on demand for PD books in the Penn libraries

Penn Libraries and Kirtas Technologies team up to make more than 200,000 books available for research and purchase, a press release from Kirtas, February 12, 2009.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)  Excerpt:

Today, Kirtas announces a partnership with the University of Pennsylvania Libraries to make over 200,000 titles available to the public in a unique way.

Using existing information drawn from Penn's catalog records, Kirtas is able to offer out-of-copyright books for sale through its own retail site. What makes this initiative unique is that the books can be offered for sale before they are ever digitized, so there is no up-front printing, production or storage cost....

"This partnership allows us to gauge reader interest in on-demand digitization and printing services," said Carton Rogers, Vice Provost and Director of Libraries at the University of Pennsylvania. "That frees us from difficult selection decisions and lets the digital collection grow in response to user demand. The model is efficient and minimizes the risk as we develop new ways of addressing information needs."

Through, customers will be able to search for a desired title, and when found, place a "digitize for me" request. The desired book will be pulled from Penn's shelves, digitized, processed by Kirtas for optimal reading and printing, and a newly-printed copy will be shipped to the initiator. Or, the customer can purchase access to an online-only version of the book. Once the book has been digitized, it is returned undamaged to the library shelf.

Comment.  I talked to Todd Whiting at Kirtas about this program and have his permission to post what I learned.  (Thanks, Todd.)  When Kirtas digitizes a book at a user's request, it will offer to sell both digital and POD editions of the book.  The "content partner" --in this case, the University of Pennsylvania-- determines the price of the digital edition and the DRM restrictions, if any.  If Penn chooses, the digital editions could be distributed free of charge and free of DRM.  Kirtas will cover its costs through sales of the POD editions.  In any case, Penn will get its own digital edition, free of charge and free of DRM.

Also see our past posts on Kirtas book-digitization projects.