"Patron-driven Acquisitions"

As I have noted on the Kitchen before, I have been working with colleagues on some of the implications of patron-driven acquisitions (PDA) for publishers, university presses in particular.  It was in this regard that I picked up “Patron-driven Acquisitions:  History and Best Practices,” which was edited by Davis Swords and published by De Gruyter. This is a useful book, which I recommend to everyone who is interested in the topic. It is also in some respects an incomplete book, which may not be surprising considering the rate of change in the world of PDA.

The book consists of twelve chapters. Swords wrote two of them plus the introduction. Swords himself is the head of sales at EBL, one of the leading suppliers of PDA services. The volume has something of an EBL slant:  besides Swords’ pieces, one other is by the EBL president and EBL is regularly mentioned in most of the other chapters as well.  The chapters themselves are not wholly integrated into a single argument; indeed, sometimes they outright clash. So, for example, at one point we hear that PDA is for both print and digital books, at another we read that PDA is for e-books only. We also have a chapter on PDA in the schools, which takes as its example a private boarding school, which no one would say is representative of American schools as a whole. And that chapter is largely devoted not to PDA but to purchasing e-books from Amazon, which does not at this time have a PDA program. Particularly odd is that there are two histories of the origin of PDA, and they don’t agree.

I don’t mean to pick on the book because I learned a great deal from it. The case studies are very useful. The opening chapter by Rick Lugg really does lay out just about all the critical issues in a concise manner. But my favorite section is the concluding chapter by Dennis Dillon of The University of Texas. Dillon hits on some themes that have appeared on the Kitchen, in particular the evolving role (I would call it the loss of centrality) of the academic library and the incursion by consumer technology companies into what was formerly an ivory tower. Dillon also wrote an excellent chapter on Texas’s experiments with PDA, but I wish the conclusion had served as the introduction to the book as a whole and framed the discussion of PDA in a broader context.

Out of these essays (for that is what they essentially are, not chapters), a coherent picture arises of why libraries are pursuing PDA, and it’s not just about the money. Okay, it’s partly about the money; let’s call that the first point. But it’s also about aligning a library’s offerings with the demonstrated needs of its constituencies. Of note is the fact that PDA makes it possible to present to those constituencies a much larger set of titles than would be possible if the library had to purchase every book just in case someone might request it.

As the theme of the broader offering of titles to patrons was repeated over and over, I began to think of how number-crunching can create a convincing picture of plenitude in other industries. For example, the corporate jet rental market is able to make a plane available to all its customers whenever they want one, despite the fact that the companies don’t have one jet per customer. The rental companies do this through statistical analysis:  they know just how much demand will be asserted at any given time and build their fleets accordingly. We will be seeing more of this in our society — demand satisfied by a smaller physical plant because of the wonders of mathematics — and librarians and PDA are part of this emerging trend.  The bridge from just-in-case to just-in-time is paved with statistics.

But what about the publishers in all this? This book fudges this point, and I think that’s a weakness. From a narrowly financial point of view, PDA is a zero-sum game: if libraries save money, publishers lose money. Publishers like just-in-case collections because libraries buy more books and they buy them sooner. But PDA is just-in-time, which exposes some of the waste in the supply chain.  Were PDA  to be implemented across the board, it would transform the academic publishing industry, driving up prices for those titles that find demand, eliminating titles where demand is not assured. I don’t think anyone is arguing for such a comprehensive implementation of PDA, however. In all likelihood, PDA will be but one of several ways that books, print or digital (mostly digital), find their way into libraries. It is a significant refinement of collection strategy, not a revolution. Furthermore, not all libraries are alike. The mission of a large research library is different from that of a smaller university library, which in turn differs from that of a liberal arts college. PDA will be implemented in different ways and to different degrees across the span of libraries. All this is part of the broader context of PDA.

How broad should that context be? I have over the past few years been closely following the e-reader and e-book space, and it is a matter of astonishment to me that, as innovative as PDA can be, most studies of it don’t seem to acknowledge the transformations in how people read and on what. To be a bit impish, let’s take the very book under consideration. It’s offered in print (which is how I read it) and in digital form, which you can get by going to the De Gruyter Web site. But a look at the Amazon Kindle store showed only the print edition. No Kindle edition? How about the Nook? Google Ebooks? Kobo? Is it in the Apple iBookstore?  These are serious omissions, and they come about because the academy and the academic library are still being viewed as though the ivory tower were a tangible part of the contemporary communications environment. Yes, you can get this book as a PDF, and if you are clever and diligent, and if you have the eyesight of an 18-year-old, you can read it on a Kindle. But it’s a pain in the neck to do this. I read books on my Android phone, Kindle Touch, and iPad all the time, but there is no chance in the world that I will ever be willing to squint long and hard enough to read a PDF on them.

Can somebody, please, take the PDF outside and shoot it?  It is a technology designed to mimic print. If we want digital books and digital libraries, we need digital formats.

Libraries, of course, are doing heroic work to make their materials as useful to their patrons as they can. But this should not have to be. And it’s not only the technical issues, but the business issues as well.  You can get a hard-to-read PDF book onto a Kindle, but you cannot get a Kindle book onto a Kindle unless you buy it from Amazon. How does PDA help us here?

The basic problem is that although PDA makes intelligent use of digital technology, the assumptions about reading and commerce are still anchored in the analog world, where libraries stuffed with books sit at the center of universities, which in turn are set off from the society they serve. No one noticed when Jeff Bezos drove a bulldozer through the ivy-covered gates.

While researching PDA practices, I had an interesting conversation with a senior representative of the university press community. I mentioned that part of the motivation to build PDA systems was because by some estimates, 40% of library collections never circulated. (I am not myself entirely confident about the accuracy of that number, but it’s reasonable to say that a large fraction never circulates.) His comment was that if PDA did not take into account how reading is evolving — with mobile devices and consumer technology companies leading the charge, and discovery increasingly migrating to social networks — we could end up in a new environment where 40% of the books remain unread.

And so we have the broader context of PDA, an evolving landscape with new players, new technologies, and new sets of user expectations. I suspect that we will be revisiting many of our assumptions about scholarly communications and how we read in the years ahead.

Joseph Esposito

Joseph Esposito

Joe Esposito is a management consultant for the publishing and digital services industries. Joe focuses on organizational strategy and new business development. He is active in both the for-profit and not-for-profit areas.

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Discussion

33 Thoughts on "The Broader Context of Patron-Driven Acquisitions"

Every other meeting I go to there is a session on PDA and how great it is and how it is going to change the world, well this old acquisitions librarian is tired of all the hype. Bibliographers and reference staff have been doing patron driven acquisitions for years. If today’s group of librarians ever got out of their long meetings and other busy work to talk to patrons you might not need a PDA system. It is not clear why PDA is a good thing. Publishers lose revenue, book suppliers lose sales, and users have to wait to get access to the material that they need. After all the speeches, articles and a few books on the topic, the book suppliers that I know tell me that less than 5% of their sales are PDA and in fact is less than 3%. Book suppliers have been forced into developing PDA systems that limit sales. Once all the experimentation is done, book suppliers are going to have to implement new charges to pay for this effort. In the end where is the payoff?

I’m not surprised to hear book suppliers are reporting that less that 5% of their sales comes from PDA — widespread interest in PDA is a recent development and most book suppliers (and libraries) are still trying to figure out how to do it. But I _am_ surprised to hear that you’ve come away from all of these meetings with the idea that PDA involves making users wait for access. In the ebook realm (which is where virtually all of the PDA action is at this point) there’s no waiting period whatsoever for the end user — the reader sees a book he wants to use, and he uses it. The acquisition process takes place behind the scenes either during or after the use, and the patron experiences no access delay at all. And when you say that “bibliographers and reference staff have been doing patron driven acquisition for years,” you’re only very partially correct. Yes, we’ve always allowed patrons to request titles, but in most academic libraries patron requests represent a few drops in the bucket of the standard acquisition process. The vast majority of traditional book acquisition has always been librarian-driven and based on librarians’ speculation about patrons’ needs. You’re right that in a patron-driven environment publishers are likely to lose revenue — but that loss would be an artifact of the publisher’s failure to publish a book that patrons want to use. I don’t think that shoring up poor publishing decisions is necessarily the right use of library funds. PDA is a good thing for all kinds of reasons. It’s not a perfect thing, but perfect options aren’t really available — and in many significant ways PDA is much less imperfect than traditional acquisition models based on speculation and guesswork.

Well, Rick, i do have to object to your equating of lack of PDA interest with “poor publishing decisions.” The history of publishing is littered with examples of books that were published without immediate sales demonstrating that a sound publishing decision had been made. I think, e.g., of the decision made to translate the I Ching in the Bollingen Series when it was considered an esoteric item of interest only to a handful of Sinologists–before the hippies in Haight Asbury discovered it and turned it into Princeton U.P.’s all-time best seller! If all publishing were totally demand-driven, we might well end up with the equivalent of a Hollywood mindset driving scholarly publishing: only books on the really “hot” and “trendy” topics would get published. Is that the kind of academic environment you want to live in?

I’m not equating lack of interest in PDA with poor publishing decisions. I’m saying that lack of reader interest suggests a poor publishing decision. Does it absolutely prove a poor publishing decision? No — there are indeed highly unusual examples of scholarly books being published to zero interest, only later to become bestsellers. Should a model of research librarianship be built on the expectation that that’s what might happen? Absolutely — if the research library has an infinite collection budget and infinite space. If the library has limited money and limited space, then it’s going to have to buy some books and not others, and it seems to me that it ought to make those choices in the way that best meets the needs of the students and researchers who are its primary constituency.

I think we have a different perspective on the ebook realm. I agree that if the book is available in an e-format then the user has instant access to it assuming they can deal with the format. The problem is that a far greater percent of the published literature in not in ebook format. Limiting patrons to the small inventory of ebooks seems to be to be an artificial control that impacts the end user. I do recognize that money is tight and some see this a way to get better use of the book funds.
From my perspective there are many more areas to save money. Too many libraries are still supporting the print workflow and other outdated systems. Regional sharing and buying practices should be much more commonplace. Perhaps the day of the well informed and talented bibliographer has passed and now the acquisitions models are based on speculation and guesswork.

Dan, you’re absolutely right that most books are not yet available in e-formats, and that’s one of the reasons that PDA models are still in their infancy — they don’t yet work very well for printed books (though developments like the Espresso Book Machine have the potential to change that). I don’t think I’ve yet heard anyone propose that all libraries should move immediately into an all-PDA collecting model. What we’re talking about in all of these endless meetings are the pros and cons of the model itself, and the practical options for moving in a PDA direction.

You’re also right that there are many other areas to save money. Unlike some of my fellow PDA enthusiasts, I don’t believe that PDA has much at all to do with saving money. I’m interested in PDA not because I think it will save me money, but because it can help me avoid buying the wrong books. I still want to spend just as much money as I ever did, and I want to buy just as many books — but I want a higher percentage of my purchases to be books that my patrons will actually find useful in their scholarly work.

I would question this claim so far as it concerns current titles. I do not know of any university press whose new titles are not available in electronic format of one kind or another, and i think that is largely true for most commercial academic publishers as well. Do you know of any significant players in this space whose current titles (as distinguished from older backlist) are not available as ebooks?

Dan’s claim wasn’t that most current titles from scholarly publishers are unavailable as ebooks. It was that “a far greater percent of the published literature is not in ebook format,” which is true — many books are still published in print only, and the vast majority of the older literature has not yet been digitized. Research libraries are concerned with much more than just current releases from scholarly presses.

Sure, but I thought PDA was a substitute mainly for approval plans, which were aimed at new title acquisitions, no? What % of titles ordered through PDA are not current?

“Sure, but I thought PDA was a substitute mainly for approval plans, which were aimed at new title acquisitions, no? What % of titles ordered through PDA are not current?”

PDA isn’t a substitute for the approval plan; it’s a substitute for librarian-driven acquisition, of which the approval plan is one example. But research libraries buy backlist titles all the time, and PDA works very well for those books as long as they’re available as ebooks. For example, our library recently conducted a very successful PDA pilot that drew on Springer’s backlist of 49,000 titles, all of which are available as ebooks. But until more publishers make their backlists available that way — and until a much larger percentage of the general preexisting book corpus is digitized — Dan will be correct in saying that “a far greater percent of the published literature is not in ebook format.” For as long as that statement is true, PDA’s effectiveness in research libraries will be limited.

Thanks for that clarification. I’ll have to start looking at PDA as more of an opportunity than a threat if it can also serve to stimulate new backlist sales once everything gets digitized. I don;t know how far other university presses have gone, but before I retired at Penn State in 2009, we had digitized more than half of our backlist. The main exception was art history and other highly illustrated books having rights issues, which may never be digitized.

Sorry Joseph, can you clarify the points you make in regards reading devices and PDA please? I got lost towards the end. I understand that you began to review the PDA book and use that as a base for comments surrounding the model or practice but I don’t really understand where you went after that? I have not read the book yet but I have it reserved at my library (oh the irony).
Is PDA not relevant because it doesn’t involve Apple or Amazon? Or is it because it currently uses pdf? I really can’t tell what point you are making. Is it that you don’t like PDA, pdfs, the PDA book?
I guess publishers are not involved in the discussion because most academic publishers have no idea what PDA is and, if they do, are so new to the topic that they cannot possibly comment with any authority. I think this is an important discussion but I genuinely do not know what to take from this article. Apart from that you want pdf shooting of course. I am sure that you will get little opposition there but maybe suggestion an alternative format and how to finance that move would be helpful – including a guarantee that it is future-proofed.
Do you see PDA as a threat to publishers or that it is a poor acquisitions model?

Happy to amplify my remarks. I am hardly opposed to PDA. I am trying to learn more about it. I think Rick Anderson’s comments on the Kitchen make the case for PDA quite well. My point about PDA is only that it sits in a broader context and that that context needs to be looked at, too. Even the benighted PDF has its place, and though I will tongue-in-cheek call for the assassination of the PDF, I don’t foresee any likelihood that we will not all be using PDFs over the next 5 years. I think the libraries that are instituting PDA programs are doing this thoughtfully; the growing literature on PDA testifies to this. The qualifying remark I would make (I tried to make this in the post) is that PDA is evolving rapidly, and it needs to.

Mr. Bell needs to read the special issue of Against the Grain (June 2011) on PDA where he will find, among other articles, a dialogue between myself (a representative of university presses) and Rick Anderson. University presses have been involved in this discussion. At the 20101 Charleston conference, e.g., one session on PDA was chaired by the marketing director at Johns Hopkins. It is that press also that is working with Joe under a Mellon grant to study PDA and its effects on publishers.

I have read the AtG article and I stand by my comment. Being involved in discussing PDA and engaging in practice are entirely different things. I have no agenda to propel but I do find the dismissive nature of Mr Tonkery and the desire to maintain large collections (below) slightly disheartening. In both events it sounds more like a strategy to maintain the economics of UP publishing rather than finding a solution to the collection problems at hand. I will wait for a copy of the book (in print you will be happy to hear) from my library because I need to understand this shift in practice rather than oppose it because I fear or dislike the model. I agree with Joseph that it is not a revolution but it could be quite damaging if we do not begin to understand it rather than just object to it out of hand.

You are certainly misreading me if you think i reject PDA out of hand.

If you want to get a good idea what is happening with print book circulation, check the OCLC–Ohiolink study: http://www.oclc.org/research/publications/library/2011/2011-06.pdf.

This sort of use is what really grabs my attention: 80% of Ohiolink librarys’ print book use (circulations) comes from 6% of the books in their collections. This suggests that there is, indeed, something to be concerned about in our current manner of purchasing print books because most of the use is apparently driven by a small part of what we buy. PDA is only a stop-gap response to this problem — if most of what we are presently buying is not used, the reasoning goes, then let’s use a patron-driven system to narrow more of our selections to those that will actually be used.

An interesting presentation by the Economist concerning the use of the tablet (Ipad, etc.) for serious reading, as opposed to the PC or the laptop (http://www.slideshare.net/emmaturner/lean-back-media-the-shock-of-the-old), might suggest that just making a print book digital is not the real wave of the future for academic publishing anyway. It seems likely to me that print academic books will not go away any time soon because of competition from e-books, but rather print publishing, for example, would move to a more print-on-demand model and electronic formats would exploit the specific strengths of tablets, and thus create customized multimedia products (a mix of case studies, articles, links to streaming videos, etc.) rather than a set book. Those who wish to read a monograph in print would be able to do so in a PDA-POD (!) hybrid of some sort while those who wished to built an electronic packet for tablet use would be able to do so.Of course, an e-book of the monograph could also be purchased.

In short, I agree with Joseph that PDA, while a reasonable response to our current selection and use problems, is not some New Dawn. He says, “The basic problem is that although PDA makes intelligent use of digital technology, the assumptions about reading and commerce are still anchored in the analog world, where libraries stuffed with books sit at the center of universities, which in turn are set off from the society they serve. No one noticed when Jeff Bezos drove a bulldozer through the ivy-covered gates.” Since our library users now mostly use our collections off-campus and online; since our users increasingly use tablets and smart phones for their non-academic work, but are mostly blocked from doing so with academic e-books because of the objections of publishers; and since Amazon and Google are setting the tone for how people expect to obtain information and how they expect to read it; I would say that PDA is a useful aspect of our collection development, but doesn’t revolutionize it by any means. It’s more of a shuffle of the old deck than anything else.

Not revolutionary? As with, say, war, depends on how you use it. In the PDA book we have a chapter by Tom Corbett of Cushing Academy, which infamously threw out its print collection of 20,000 or so pretty old books and replaced it, for non-fiction, with a PDA collection of 200,000 mostly solid academic titles. The library uses the space those print books took up in other ways, has a newer collection 10 times as large, and gets its fiction from Amazon (which, as Corbett says, is an imperfect but usable solution). It’s an idea that lots of small college or school libraries could use. Another chapter, about building new libraries in the Near and Middle East, describes the expensive, time-intensive practice of building a print collection in far-flung places. As you know Matthew, staffing, selecting, processing, and shipping take years and costs hundreds of thousands of dollars or more to build even a small collection most of which will never be used. With PDA, by contrast, the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy turned on a collection of 150,000 books at very little cost in a matter of days. The best thing could be that tens of thousands of otherwise unavailable books can instantly be on the screens of people curious about subjects crucial to them, such as democracy. And in bigger, established academic libraries? Well, other chapters describe innovative, important ways to use PDA. Whether they are revolutionary is, really, a local decision.

I can assure Joe that some of us did notice “when Jeff Bezos drove a bulldozer through the ivy-covered gates” and that many of us have been increasingly worried ever since about Amazon’s predatory behavior in the marketplace, which has as many minuses for university presses as pluses.

If PDA really catches on, and in particular if it undermines the new ebook aggregations that Project Muse, JSTOR, OUP, and others are selling, it may hasten the advent of OA for scholarly book publishing. One scenario for that development would be a complete reorientation of the business from supply-driven to demand-driven, in the sense that through library acquisitions collectives of the kind that Eric Hellman has envisaged, books would not even be written if pre-orders were not placed in sufficient numbers based on a circulated prospectus to justify the production of the book.

Patron driven publication is scary and fascinating. I assume we are talking about patron pre-orders, or are there library pre-orders under PDA? I still do not understand how PDA actually works, so maybe someone here can point me to a primer. Does a library pay for the inventory that is offered, or just for the patron selections, or what? If the latter, why not offer everything? If the former, there is still a pre-patron acquisition decision by the library.

But what about the publishers in all this? This book fudges this point, and I think that’s a weakness. From a narrowly financial point of view, PDA is a zero-sum game: if libraries save money, publishers lose money. Publishers like just-in-case collections because libraries buy more books and they buy them sooner. But PDA is just-in-time, which exposes some of the waste in the supply chain. Were PDA to be implemented across the board, it would transform the academic publishing industry, driving up prices for those titles that find demand, eliminating titles where demand is not assured.

PDA is not a zero sum game … in an academic setting it is like putting a Coke machine in the desert. Publishers stand to make more money if more of what they produce is discoverable by as many potential users as possible. Why do we have companies that publish content and insist on keeping it a secret? THAT is the ZERO SUM GAME. And PDA should never be the sole method of acquisition … it’s a tool to be employed as part of a larger strategy for collection development and management.

In response to the meme that for publishers, PDA is a “threat or menace,” the upside of PDA for publishers lies in thinking of the OPAC as the front end of a new kind of bookstore. Currently PDA is (rightly) being implemented to make library acquisitions more efficient. At a later time the OPAC may evolve into a scholarly bookshop, providing revenue for libraries and publishers alike and a new service for patrons. It is premature, however, to assess this opportunity, as the baseline issues of PDA are still being debated.

David, that might become possible if three things happen: 1) virtually every book becomes available either as an ebook or for printing on demand (that might sound crazy today, but I doubt it will still sound crazy five years from now); 2) Amazon becomes a broker for every book available (ditto); 3) the price of an ebook drops so much that everyone can afford to buy as many as he or she wants (this seems much more far-fetched, at least in the foreseeable future).

If those three conditions coincide, it’s hard to see what useful function the library will still serve other than as a repository of unique special-collections-type materials. A circulating collection will no longer be necessary, and although librarians will continue to offer (usually excellent) guidance and advice on how to navigate the unimaginably complex information univers, most people will continue to ignore the offer, believing themselves to be fully capable of finding what they need without help. Until those three conditions coincide, people will still rely on libraries to give them access to books that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to locate, store, and/or afford on their own.

Thanks Rick, I see your point. The price issue is most telling, but I am not clear on how library PDA works in this regard. Do you (1) buy every book that any patron says they want to read, or (2) build a waiting list of n patrons before buying a given book, or what? In the former case you might get a lot of books that no one else reads, while in the latter case the patrons may have to wait for a long time.

PDA works in a bunch of different ways right now, because the idea is still in its infancy and all models are experimental. Typically, though, the library is provided with a large number of catalog records that contain live links to complete ebooks. The record set may be defined by broad subject area, or it may represent all of the ebooks from that particular publisher, etc., but in most cases the most significant characteristic of the set is that it’s much broader and much larger than what the library would have been able to purchase in a preemptive way. The library’s patrons find the books in the catalog, use them as they wish, and when a certain threshold of usage is reached for any individual title, the library is charged, the book becomes a permanent part of the collection to start with. Under some models, no purchase happens until the book has been used more than once or until it’s been used by a single patron for a certain amount of time; under another model, the first and second use generate microcharges and temporary access, and then the full price is charged on the third use and access becomes permanent. In all cases, the defining characteristic of the model is that patrons get access to a much larger and broader array of content than they would have access to if librarians had picked and chosen according to what they thought was going to be wanted in the future, and the library pays only for what is actually used. After a certain amount of time, the unused catalog records may disappear from the catalog — or they could remain indefinitely, depending on how the library wants to manage the process.

Does that help?

In the reply above, I accidentally edited out an important part of this sentence: “The library’s patrons find the books in the catalog, use them as they wish, and when a certain threshold of usage is reached for any individual title, the library is charged, the book becomes a permanent part of the collection to start with.”

That sentence should read: “The library’s patrons find the books in the catalog, use them as they wish, and when a certain threshold of usage is reached for any individual title, the library is charged, the book becomes a permanent part of the collection, and the patron never knows that it wasn’t part of the collection to start with.”

Thanks Rick, this is very helpful. Clearly there are a complex set of PDA program design issues, which is very interesting in itself. I am beginning to see the outlines of a computer model that could explore these design differences, under various scenarios. Is there a website that goes into these design issues in any detail?

For example, it does appear that in certain cases one might wind up with a lot of books hat were only read by one person, which is almost as bad as being read by none. Perhaps the biggest benefit of PDA is the very large offerings that you refer to.

I have done a lot of research on design problems like this, so here is a possibly useful result. If there are just 10 variables and just 3 variations for each then there are about 100,000 possible designs. Three to the tenth power to be exact. I call this the combinatorial explosion. People get bogged down trying to consider all the possible designs, looking for the best, but it can’t be done. Generally speaking you have to consider each variable separately, or at most small combinations of variables. Good luck.

“PDA works in a bunch of different ways right now, because the idea is still in its infancy and all models are experimental.”

RIck, EBL has used its model for about six years now without basic changes. It doesn’t feel experimental to us or to many of our customers. Lots of libraries are experimenting with PDA, especially in the U.S. But, Wellesley near me, for example; GVSU in Michigan; or your neighbor to the south, University of Texas, use PDA as a routine part of their monograph workflow. The main point of my book is that we and they have lots of solid data, enough that libraries can name a budget and tell us their intentions (access, collecting, or a balance), and we can, over a year, come within a couple percent of that budget.

“under another model, the first and second use generate microcharges and temporary access, and then the full price is charged on the third use and access becomes permanent.”

I think you’re talking about EBL here. But actually, some libraries NEVER buy the book, they just keep renting. We do not make them buy on the third use or any use. Doug Way’s chapter in the PDA book describes how at GVSU they have learned buying on the fifth, sixth, or seventh use is more effiicient—gives them more money to spend on more transactions—than buying on the third use. In chapter 11 I go into some detail about the implications of different purchase points.

Thanks for these clarifications and corrections, David — I honestly had no idea that EBL had been doing PDA for so long.

I now have a copy of the book and I will post some further thoughts if appropriate. My initial thoughts on the first scan and chapters is that the opening salvo from Rick Lugg is a tremendous scene-setter for the transition of the industry we find ourselves privileged to work in. Having the scene set so succinctly explains a lot of the hype surrounding the model and why it makes so much sense. I feel as though I should treat this subject more seriously that I had done until now.
What is the big surprise for me is that PDA is so well established in many places when I had the impression that this was an entirely new phenomena. As Swords says above there is evidence from six years and not the one or two years of low-budget testing. I can’t say that I have ever looked to Australia for anything but it looks like it could have been a good testing bed for PDA. I will finish the book before I change my views entirely but I think many of the Scholarly Kitchen members should read Lugg’s opening chapter.

Not that you should take time from your holidays to read the book, but at least one of us out here is waiting to read what you think. . .

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