June 29, 2020

The Bertrams group went into administration on 19th June affecting Dawson Books and Bertram Books.  Many Librarians were concerned over how this will impact their collections, particularly those with eBook licenses via Dawsonera.  Gavin Phillips from SUPC is working with the administrators to find answers to this, amongst other questions.

Initial advice was:

  • Ensure your institution has a download of the licences purchased along with latest usage data.
  • Consider options for an alternative platform in the event that Dawsonera ceases to trade, consulting the Buyers Guide for your relevant framework agreement and consulting your local procurement team.
  • Dawsonera currently continues to operate for titles you have already licenced but new purchases are not possible.   The administrators have committed to keeping the platform running until at least the end of July.
  • Where existing Dawsonera title licences were extended to Unlimited Access until 30th June, be prepared that they may revert back to their previous licence terms at any point from 1st July.
  • Print books cannot currently be ordered and nothing is being dispatched.
  • The administrator is ascertaining which customers have funds on deposit and intends to communicate with them soon.

update – 10th July:

“Gardners wholesaler and distributor have purchased the assets of Bertram Trading Limited, which includes the assets of Bertram Books, Bertrams Library Services, and Dawson Books–including the physical building for five years on the lease and some machinery–though it has not bought the trading company and will not trade in Norwich as Bertrams using its name or brand.”  Full article in The Bookseller here.

The A.T. Little Group (which includes Askews & Holts, Browns Books for Students, and the VLeBooks platform among others) has agreed with the administrator to purchase the assets only for the current Dawsonera catalogue. This will allow them to import the Dawsonera catalogue to their VLeBooks system to give a very high degree of matches to the content that institutions have licenced via Dawsonera.

The VLeBooks platform is offered by both Askews & Holts and Browns Books for Students, though only the former are on the SUPC-led framework agreement.  Please note that the Dawsonera platform itself is not part of the purchase and remains in the hands of the administrator.  It is currently believed that the Dawsonera platform will be switched off at some time on 31st July.

There is potential for temporary loss of access if the Dawsonera platform is switched off before content can be switched and there will likely be some post-switch work required for libraries to ingest new metadata and ensure that reading lists are updated.  It is important that all affected libraries immediately consider their options regarding alternative eBook platforms.  You should also inform your users that any notes they’ve made and wish to keep, need to be immediately downloaded from Dawsonera and saved safely.  The full statement from VLeBooks is available here.

Finally, our sympathies to all those made redundant during this process and we hope that you find new jobs within the sector so we can continue working with you.