Thursday, March 29, 2012

Have Server Will Lend (an eBook Journey Update)

"I am always doing that which I cannot do, so that I may learn how to do it." - Pablo Picasso.

The Picasso quote above is our outlook here at Califa.  We don't exactly know how to lend ebooks right now.  We're figuring it out, and then we'll know how to do it.  If we waited until we knew how to do it before we started, something new will have popped up, and we'd already be behind.  We're talking with those who have already gone down this path, and taking as much knowledge as we can from them.  Pretty soon, we'll have a good idea of what to do.

I'm fairly certain that what we will have in two or five years will look much different than what we start with.  But if you're going to have something to work on, you need to at least have something to start with.  That something is what we're setting up now.  We will tweak, experiment, and adjust the model based on the needs of both our member libraries, and the publishers with whom we work.

This week we purchased the Adobe Content Server, which is the software that hosts the epub files, and lets you add in the digital rights management.  Adobe doesn't sell it directly, and there are two resellers:

Datalogics Incorporated
Here are some links about the Adobe Content Server from Datalogics, which is where we bought ours.

Supported Devices

The software we purchased includes: 
  • eBook Authoring Support – support for both PDF and EPUB files formats in authoring software including Acrobat, Adobe InDesign and other areas like XSLT transfer scripts, EPUB validation tools etc. (
  • Reader Mobile 9 SDK – this is a source code SDK which allows device manufacturers and eBook reading software to render PDF and EPUB and supports Adobe Content Server 4 encryption (
Pricing for Content Server is:
USD $10,000 upfront fee (includes support/maintenance/upgrades and access to Adobe Digital Signing Service for one year)
USD $1500 annual maintenance renewal fee after the first year
USD $.22 per signed license for permanent transactions (non-expiring - ie a purchase)
USD $.08 per signed license for expiring transactions (expiring between 0 and 60 days)

Once we have the software, we need a place to host it.  We're going with (mainly because they come so highly recommended from some of our partner organizations, and their customer support borders on legendary).  Rackspace hosting is sliding scale depending on the amount of data we use.  We can start off small, and move up as we need to.

Once we have the server up and running, we'll still need content to put on it, and we'll need a front end discovery layer.  The content I'm not too worried about.  Every day I get emails from small-press and independent publishers who are willing and happy to work with us.  And they have good stuff!  Since I'm willing to bet that we won't have the bestseller titles from the Big 6 to start with, I'd like to create some "if you like this, you'll love that" types of lists for people to find new authors.  Perhaps some of our member libraries will want to volunteer to create something, or maybe it already exists in an open source app that could be integrated.

One note for those of you who are going to do this yourself: talk to the people who have already done it so you don't duplicate efforts.  Jordana Vincent at Douglas County was enormously helpful and forthcoming when she sent me a list of the publishers with whom they have spoken, as well as the notes about them.  You don't need to start from scratch anymore.

I'll be going to BEA to speak with publishers in June, and we'll hopefully get a lot more on board after that.  But to start with, we should have plenty to get a basic collection off the ground.

The discovery layer is a bit trickier since we're planning for a group dynamic.  We have several companies working on quotes for us, and are also looking at consultants who could who could implement the already-existing open source programs for groups.

Over the next week we will get the ACS software installed at Rackspace (Datalogics does free installation, which is one reason I chose them), and focus on the front end discovery layer.  More next week!

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