Katina Strauch speaks with Eric Merkel-Sobotta, Executive Vice President Corporate Communications, of Springer Science+Business Media regarding MyCopy.  See original press release here.

1) Tell us about MyCopy in the US and Canada. It has been in effect since October 2008? How many copies have you sold in the US and in Canada? Have they been sold largely to faculty members? Is there a subject area that is especially popular?

In all honesty, we never intended MyCopy to be a significant driver of revenue, but rather to be a break-even service. In effect, MyCopy is a print copy of an eBook, with a color softcover and black and white content. We thought it was a cool idea that would appeal to librarians (additional service to provide patrons) and also to students and faculty (no need to print out eBooks or schlep to the copy shop). It is also, of course, an incentive to buy Springer eBook subject collections. In North America, the discipline with the most MyCopy books ordered is Mathematics and Statistics.

2) You state that the library must have access to the full eBook collection by Springer. Is this the case? And has this been adhered to by Springer? If so, how is this verified?

No, that’s not quite accurate. A library must purchase at least one subject collection of one copyright year in order to be able to offer the MyCopy service to their patrons. And, of course, patrons can only have MyCopy books of eBooks that the library has purchased.

3) Does the faculty member receive a print and an electronic copy or just a print copy? Presumably the library has the electronic copy? If so, this seems to “fly in the teeth” of books going electronic instead of print. Have you seen a desire of faculty to receive the print book for their personal use as well as the electronic book for the library?

If a library purchases one or more copyright years of one or more eBook subject Collections, all registered patrons (e.g. staff and students) have access to the eBooks through the library on SpringerLink.com, but we do not sell individual eBooks to end users – this is done by business partners such as Amazon, etc. Any registered patron can download an eBook and buy a MyCopy title, provided the eBook is part of the eBook subject collection that the library has purchased. We don’t see this as “flying in the teeth” of the increasing trend towards digital content, it’s simply completing the cycle: from print to electronic and now from electronic to a form of print at a fantastic price.

4) How long do you project that MyCopy will be a viable business model? How long will Springer continue to print softcover books?

As mentioned, the introduction of MyCopy was never intended to be a revenue generator – it is a product feature that hopefully is an incentive to purchase Springer eBook Collections.

5) Why did Springer decide to launch MyCopy in Europe? I understand that this includes Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. In what other countries will it be launched? What is the sales projection for this project?

The launch of MyCopy in Europe is a result of demand by our customers. European libraries want to serve their customers, and MyCopy appeals not only to patrons, faculty and Springer authors, but also to

librarians since it is a service made possible by them. In principle, we will offer MyCopy wherever we can, but again, it is geared to be revenue neutral – no losses, no profit.

6) This is an innovative idea. Derk Haank seems to be full of such initiatives. What is coming next?

Oh, you know, we are always looking to develop new products and services, and are committed to serving the scientific community. We will continue to engage with our customers and hope to continue to pleasantly surprise them with new and useful things. MyCopy, but also SpringerImages, SpringerMaterials, authormapper.com, SpringerExemplar.com and our activities with respect to open access are good examples, but I won’t give away anything else or I’d spoil the next surprise!