As well as running surveys, we also try and speak directly to students on a regular basis to help us understand what you want and what you need.

It's very buzzwordy to say 'the student voice is at the heart of our decision making' and stuff like that but it really is true. "Welcome to the why we can’t always buy the ebooks yo
We talk to @GSAYork and @yorkunisu a lot and find their input massively helpful, and we also talk to UGs, PGTs, PGRs, academics and members of the public as part of the User Experience driven approach we have to projects.

We prefer one-on-one conversations to focus groups.
We do this a fair amount (especially with big projects like redesigning YorSearch - there were three rounds of user-consultation as part of that, and they completely changed our outlook and decisions); you may even be one of the people we've spoken to. If so, cheers!

ANYWAY >>
We were doing one of these interviews last week, and the student was talking about how sometimes they found it annoying when we had paper copies of books instead of ebooks. I can get them on the kindle, they said; the books are only £10. How come you can't buy us enough ebooks?
So the person doing the interview explained why, and the student listened, then they said 'Wow, you should TELL people that...'

So that's what this is.

We wanted to tell you why we can't *always* get the volume of ebooks you need.

You right now:
We know not everyone cares about how the sausage is made! But we like telling you things, we want to be open about how things work, and for those that are interested, here's the situation...

The tl;dr is, publishers sell differently to us than they do to you.
So first things first, we buy ebooks whenever we can. This is for obvious reasons - it's easier to provide access to people not in York if the book is online.

We know some people much prefer printed books and we totally get that. We still buy thousands of print books too.
We can't buy Kindle books. We have to buy ebooks that are licensed to Universities.

And not all of them are. Some stuff is only available to *individuals* as an ebook, and not to Libraries. This is a choice the publisher has made.

Some books we simply cannot buy as ebooks.
Some books we can buy as ebooks, and we do, but the price differences are eye-watering.

Here are some examples.

There's a book which costs £33.49 on Kindle.
Ebook price for us (and it's not an unlimited eBook, it's max 3 users at once)...

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

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£650
There's another which is a comparatively pricey £41.99 on Kindle. The price to us, for 3 simultaneous users?

A mere £1,050.

There's a book we need which costs £51.99 per paper copy. Quite a lot, right?

To us, for an ebook which only three of you can read at once: £1,050.
Sometimes we just can't do it. We simply cannot justify buying the ebook and end up buying multiple paper copies.

A recent example: a 3 user ebook was £1200.

£1200! 👀

There are worse examples than this but these are all York-specific examples from recent purchases.
Sometimes we get a credit model. We pay x hundred pounds, the ebook can be used 400 times. Then we pay the same amount again to top it back up when the 400 times are used up. *Sometimes* we're not allowed to top it back up because the publisher has withdrawn it from ebook sale...
Basically it's a popular book and they want you to buy it directly - every one of you who needs it, on Kindle - so they stop us (you) accessing a book we've already spent hundreds of pounds on.
This is so unbelievably frustrating for us, and presumably even more so for you.

When you go to the shelf and the physical book isn't there, it's annoying but at least it makes some sort of sense.

When an ebook you read yesterday isn't there today, it's just maddening.
Anyway this thread is long enough already, there's some context for ebooks, paper copies, and all that stuff.

If you've made it this far WE APPRECIATE YOU.
What we're saying is, we do absolutely everything we reasonably can to get you eBook access to everything you need. If you end up having to borrow physical copies, or you have to queue for the eBook, believe us when we say we tried everything to avoid you being in this situation!
One final thing we didn't mention earlier - the sheer numbers of books involved.

In the last twelve months how many ebooks and print books do you think we've bought?

(We'll tell you the correct answer below but vote first!)
So far the voting is correct - you savvy lot - it's option 4.

7587 eBooks purchased in the last 12 months. Now of course not all of them are outrageously priced, but enough are that it's pretty tricky for us to supply you with what you need. We are working on it though!
This really took off yesterday, which we're glad about. Firstly for selfish reasons: we want our students to know we do everything we can to find solutions to their problems! Our Content & Open Research staff work so hard at this.

>>
Secondly because it's a wider issue.

We gave York examples but it's happening everywhere. If you're interested in this we'd suggest you check out #ebookSOS (not least for some prices which are even wilder than the ones above) which is curating the wider conversation.
You can also check out the website supporting the campaign, here: academicebookinvestigation.org - there's an open letter to sign there, which already has 3952 signatories.

4,000 by the end of the day seems very doable! 🖊️

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