The drive to convert journals and bibliographies from paper to digital is much less for books. This lack of urgency has many different reasons. The most important is probably that reading a book is something totally different than reading a journal article. Other – less noticeable reasons for the library user—have more to do with finances. Wageningen UR spends relatively little on books (less than 5% of its total collection budget). E-books, however, are offered in large packages that cost considerably more than what would normally be spent for books from the same publisher. The Library does not want and cannot spend large amounts for collections, a large part of which is less relevant or not relevant for Wageningen UR.
Fortunately, there are exceptions that will increase the number of e-books in the collection. For instance, the contract with Springer has recently been improved and extended. So far, this contract has resulted in more than 10,000 e-books that have become available from 1997 until now. Additionally, a collection of 500 Elsevier e-books also became available at the end of 2007.
The Library is furthering research the possibility of creating a balanced collection of e-books at an acceptable cost. For the time being, the e-book collection may not be developed at the expense of the paper collection; the paper collection's function as a 'browse' collection is still particularly important for students. Unfortunately, it is the textbooks of all things, which are often lent out, that are still hardly published in e-book form.
See the e-books site in the Portals Section of the Digital Library.