E-Books in University Libraries in Kenya: Trends, Usage, and Intellectual Property Issues

E-Books in University Libraries in Kenya: Trends, Usage, and Intellectual Property Issues

Daniel Rutto (Kabarak University, Kenya) and Omondi Yudah (University of Kabianga, Kenya)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3093-0.ch007
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The academic world is rapidly embracing the use of technology in most of its activities. Information resources, including books, are increasingly being digitised. Global trends indicate an increased use of the digital format of books and journals in universities. This chapter explores these trends with a special attention to Kenyan universities. It analyses the acquisition models in use; the intellectual property issues surrounding the use of e-books; prospects and challenges encountered by universities in the use of e-books. Finally, the chapter addresses the possible future direction that universities in Kenya are likely to take in relation to the use of e-books while recommending some of the important proactive measures to be taken by stakeholders in the country to ensure ethical use of e-books in the country.
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E-Books Market

The e-books market is dominated by the international players, mostly from developed countries. Consequently, libraries from developing countries heavily rely on the supply of e-book contents from these international publishing firms. This section of the chapter is intended to shed some light on the major players in the e-book market globally.


Amazon was founded as an online bookseller in 1995 in Seattle, Washington, United States of America. In the recent past, it has branded itself not exclusively as a specialist in books, but as the “earth’s most customer-centric company,” supplying to “four primary customer sets: consumers, sellers, enterprises, and content creators”. Economically, the company statement reveals the ambition of Amazon to adopt a vertically-integrated service provider perspective. Thus, it has a broad number of business roles that conventionally had been the territory of a wide array of separate businesses, especially bookseller/retailer, used books store, library, publisher, service provider to authors, as well as publisher (including print on demand), ecommerce platform, and marketplace (Wischenbart, 2013).

The current situation of e-books globally can rationally be termed as having been triggered, either directly or indirectly, by the inauguration of Amazon’s Kindle reading device in 2007. This device was the part perceived by the consumers as the most visible, in a much more complex and proprietary, highly integrated system that consisted of Amazon’s leading online platform for selling (printed) books in the world (Wischenbart, 2013).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Digital Rights Management (DRM): A method of controlling access to copyrighted digital media such as e-books, music and movies. It is aimed at imposing technological restrictions and controlling the distribution and copying of purchased content.

E-Book: A digital version of a printed book. It is usually read on a personal computer, an e-book reader, tablet, smart-phone or other appropriate device. Its nature and definition is gradually evolving as video, images and other formats are incorporated into digital resources.

Copyright: A term that describes the rights over their literary and artistic works. These include books, music, paintings, sculpture, films, computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps and technical drawings.

Consortium: An association of libraries established by formal agreement for the purpose of co-operation, such as resource sharing. The membership of the consortium is determined by the intended purpose.

E-Learning: The term, also referred to as electronic learning, refers to learning from a distance that involves the use of the internet and, or the use of other electronic gadgets.

Intellectual Property: Products of the human intellect considered as personal property, especially works protected under the law of copyright and inventions protected by patents.

E-Reader: A device that helps in reading e-books. They have different capabilities for display and interaction with digital content.

Technological Protection Measures (TPMs): Systems or applications that control access and use of digital works such as e-books, articles, databases and newspapers. These include copying limitations and regional restrictions.

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