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The News of 2014: The Year in Review
Posted On January 6, 2015
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Happy new year! As we ring in 2015 and look forward to what is sure to be another eventful year for libraries, information professionals, and information services, it’s time to reflect on the major industry happenings in 2014. Here’s an overview of the newsworthy trends, events, and topics NewsBreaks covered in the past year.

Ebook ‘Battles’ Were the Norm

The biggest ebook-related news of the year was the 6-month-long dispute between Amazon and Hachette Book Group. “Latest Salvo Fired in Amazon and Hachette’s Dispute” looked at the negotiation (or rather, lack thereof) from a legal angle, with George H. Pike explaining, “The battle has resulted in higher prices and delayed shipment of Hachette books, but more critically, it is being seen as a potential battle for future control of book and ebook publishing.” In “Libraries Continue to Battle for Fair Access to Ebooks,” Nancy K. Herther showed how the dispute fit into the ongoing conversation about libraries’ relationships with publishers regarding ebook lending. She noted that “these issues continue to thwart innovation and cause the industry to stagnate,” and “libraries can do little but wait. …” Now that the waiting game is over and Amazon and Hachette have reached a deal, NewsBreaks will follow developments in ebook pricing and ebook lending in the coming months.

ReadersFirst, a coalition of library systems, took steps to improve patrons’ ebook access (“ReadersFirst Contributes to the Ebook-Lending Conversation”). Its goal is to help libraries shape their own e-lending practices so they can stay informed as they fight for fair access—potentially accomplished through dialogues with ebook vendors, patrons, and publishers and by working together to provide a united front.

Every year, new players emerge in the ebook industry as others fade away. A major one said goodbye last year, when Sony abandoned its ebookstore in the U.S. and Canada in favor of focusing on digital imaging, video games, and mobile devices (“Sony Transitions Out of the North American Ebook Market”). However, just 4 months later, Sony announced the launch of Digital Paper, a $1,100 e-reader (“Sony Digital Paper E-Reader Reaches Out to Legal Market”). Time will tell what moves Sony—and other big ebook vendors—will make in 2015.

Ebook subscription services were the new players to watch in 2014. “Scribd and Smashwords Working to Build New Publishing/Distribution Models for Ebooks” touched on one of these services with an analysis of how Smashwords’ provision of content to Scribd would help both companies to get a leg up on the competition in the emerging arena of subscription-based e-reading.

Apple’s ebook price-fixing trial ended in 2013, but it continued to fight for a win during the appeals process (“Apple Continues to Challenge Ebook Antitrust Decision”). U.S. District Judge Denise Cote formally approved the company’s settlement agreement, and it presented oral arguments before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on Dec. 15. However, the court could take months to reach a verdict, bringing the appeals process well into 2015. If Apple loses the appeal, it will pay $450 million.

An Eventful Year for Open Access

Abby Clobridge was on the scene for the major open access (OA) events last year. First up was OA Week (“Open Access Week 2014: Celebrating ‘Generation Open’”), which brought together OA advocates from around the world under the Generation Open theme. It “highlighted the recent surge of enthusiasm for OA from students and early-career researchers and encouraged … advocates to consider openness through the lens of the newest generation of researchers,” she wrote. In addition to a live kickoff event, OA Week featured academic library celebrations such as viewings of an OA-themed short film, a photo campaign, a meme competition, and even a scavenger hunt. Later in the year, at OpenCon (“OpenCon: Students and Early-Career Researchers for Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data”), attendees spent the first 2 days exploring current and emerging trends in open knowledge, seeing the impact of openness in action, and hearing about student and early career researcher pushes for OA. On the third day, they engaged in advocacy training and went to meetings at congressional offices, embassies, and policy-related organizations.

NewsBreaks also covered tools that further the goal of spreading awareness of OA, such as the Open Access Button, a browser bookmarklet designed to help researchers report when they encounter a publisher’s paywall and can’t access a scholarly publication (“What the Open Access Button Means for the Future of Research and Publishing”). The button searches for alternative access to the publication, including OA versions, “while mapping where obstacles are inhibiting research advances around the world,” Barbie E. Keiser wrote. A new version was released in October during OA Week.

Another tool, Paperity, is the first initiative to attempt the aggregation of 100% of the world’s multidisciplinary OA journals and papers (with a proposed 3-year deadline). “Paperity Hopes to Create a Comprehensive Index of Open Literature” described how the organization plans to meet this goal and how it fits into the uncertain future of OA in scholarly publishing. “[E]fforts to make research—all research—more readily available and easier to find is something that can be applauded by all,” Herther wrote.

Libraries Continued to Seek Out Digital-Age Roles

Libraries have been evolving with the times for years, and yet they still need to justify their existence to many. NewsBreaks showed its support with coverage focused on pro-library initiatives. 

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Brandi Scardilli is the editor of NewsBreaks and Information Today.

Email Brandi Scardilli

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