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eBooks on Demand

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Acronym of the case:


Web address of the case:

Country of the case:

Austria , Pan european

Posting Date:

12 December 2007

Last Edited Date:

21 July 2008


Silvia Gstrein (University of Innsbruck, Library)
eBooks on Demand Logosgstrein's picture

Type of initiative

  • Project or service-imgProject or service
  • Network-imgNetwork

Case Abstract

All European books here and now as eBooks - this is the vision of the eBooks on Demand (EOD) service, provided within the eTEN Digitisation on Demand (DOD) project. With the EOD service public domain books, especially historical from 1500 to 1930 are now just a mouse click away. Users are able to order the books right from the online catalogue of a library and after a couple of working days they will receive a digital version (=eBook) either for downloading or as a CDROM. The EOD service also comprises an online payment module (credit cards) so that the digital workchain is completely covered. The EOD service is already implemented in more than 15 libraries in 10 European countries. It is planned to extend the EOD network so that finally all libraries from all European countries are providing their users with the chance to order eBooks from physical books.

Description of the case

Start date - End date
September 2006 (Ongoing)
Date operational
March 2007
Target Users
Civil society
Target Users Description
There are two main target groups of the EOD service: 1) Researchers, scientists and citizens who are interested in getting historical books as eBooks. 2) Other libraries in Europe who shall take part in the EOD network and extend their service portfolio. Since the EOD service is organised in a centralised way, new adopters can be integrated with a minimum of effort.
Czech | Danish | German | Estonian | English | Hungarian | Portuguese | Slovak | Slovenian

Policy Context and Legal Framework

The EOD network can be seen as a contribution to reach the i2010 plan of the EU commission. Its aim is to provide European citizens with a service where potentially all historical books (published between 1500 and 1930) can be ordered as eBooks. In other words: Whereas mass digitisation projects always need to select which kind of material shall be digitised, the EOD service gives everyone the chance to order a book here and now as eBook.

The EOD Service has been set up within the DoD Project (Digitisation on Demand) co-financed by the eTEN Programme. After completion of the project in June 2008 the EOD service will be run by the EOD Network. This will be a not-for-profit service run co-operatively by the EOD libraries. It is planned to extend the service towards all European countries.

Project Size and Implementation

Type of initiative
IT infrastructures and products
Overall Implementation approach
Non-profit sector
Technology choice
Standards-based technology
Funding source
Public funding EU
Project size
Implementation: €1,000,000-5,000,000
Yearly cost:

Implementation and Management Approach

From a technical point of view the EOD Service is very much centralised: EOD libraries are using a central database where they can track and manage their orders and communicate with the customers in their natural language. Moreover due to the implementation of external service providers EOD libraries can use the central financial services, such as credit card payment. In addition also the generation of eBooks can be managed centrally, so that the barrier to take part in the service is as low as possible.

The EOD service portfolio will be extended from 2008 on: Besides delivering eBooks in PDF format, a Print-on-Demand service will be implemented as well as other eBook formats, such as Mobipocket etc. Last but not least, in cooperation with rightsholders, it is planned to extend the service also towards 20th century books.

Technology solution

The EOD service is based on standard technology and consits mainly on two components:
- A central database (Oracle 9g, JAVA) managing the ordering, accounting and communication workflow. It provides multilingual interfaces for all libraries taking part in the network. With the central database a library is able to track and manage its orders, including automated emailing to the customers as well as managing online accounting (via credit card).
- A Digital Object Generator (DOG) for creating eBooks and standardised digital objects. With DOG files can be uploaded, OCR processed and stored as PDF or text files. It also generates a download link for the customer who wants to download his eBook.

Impact, innovation and results

Economic effects


We expect that in 2008 we will be able to deliver some thousands of books as eBooks. Our clients will be researchers, historians, genealogists etc. all over Europe and all over the world. They will all get access to European historical books which otherwise would not have been possible for them, or if - only in connection with extremely high personal effort and costs. All the delivered books are also preserved for the long-term and are forming therefore a part of the European digital library - available for everybody via the Internet.

Track record of sharing

EOD has won 3 awards so far:
- Best poster presentation at the largest European conference on digital libraries ECDL 2007 in Budapest.
- Second place of the Tyrolian business plan competition among more than 130 teams. The business plan was reviewed by two consultants and presented towards a high level expert jury.
- Third place of the Austrian wide business plan competition (category: technology) among more than 250 teams. Again the business plan was reviewed by two external experts and presented to a high level expert jury.

Lessons learnt

Lesson 1 - Do not underestimate the efforts needed to set up a new service on a pan-european level. Even with a realistic approach one is tempted to calculate too low the efforts needed for organising and communicating within a multilingual and multinational team.

Lesson 2 - Keep the right balance in communicating with partner organisations: Provide them with clear guidelines, but avoid to be too autocratic.

Lesson 3 - Include external experts at the right time.

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