Overdrive Announces New Programs to Make eBooks more Accessible

Overdrive Announces New Programs to Make eBooks more Accessible

Overdrive is currently the largest digital distributor that libraries in Canada, US, UK and Australia employ to fill their catalog with audiobooks, eBooks, music and video. The company has announced a series of new initiatives that will make librarians lives easier in managing their collections and enhancements to the Overdrive Media Console.

One of the pitfalls of managing a physical or digital collection is having the buy the titles in advance, under the one loan, one use model. Librarians really need to understand the needs of the community to make sure their content appeals to the widest demographic possible. Lets face it, if you want to get hundreds of new fiction and nonfiction titles, you will have to pay thousands of dollars to purchase books patrons might not even use.

Overdrive is developing a new solution called the cost-per-checkout (CPC) model that allows libraries to make available a supplier’s entire catalog of titles, but only incur a charge when a user borrows a title. The company intends on rolling this out across the board, but is starting modestly with their recent deal with Warner Brothers for streaming videos.

There are new catalogs that will be available soon that libraries will be able to purchase. Graphic novels, manga (English and Japanese) and popular children’s eBook series and picture books using EPUB3 with fixed layout. Overdrive is also putting a priority on hooking schools up with deals who order multiple units. Finally, they are going to launch consortia-friendly programs to enable Advantage titles to be migrated from individual libraries to shared collections, as permitted by publishers and suppliers.

The Overdrive Media console app for Android, Blackberry, iOS and a myriad of other platforms is the tool patrons use to read eBooks, listen to audiobooks or watch videos. The main pitfall is the Adobe Digital Editions step to insure that the title has been legitimately borrowed or purchased. The vast majority of patrons are not super tech savvy and may not understand the process. The Media Console app will receive an update this summer that will remove the Adobe step and also add synchronized audio narration with text, dictionary support, and other features beneficial to students and researchers.

“We are constantly innovating in response to requests from libraries and users. This includes libraries that are disappointed with competitor eBook collections due to low checkouts and fewer features,” said Shannon Lichty, OverDrive’s director of partner services. “As a result, we are supporting library requests to migrate their eBook and audiobook titles currently on other platforms to OverDrive in order to instantly benefit from higher circulation and compatibility with more devices.”

Overdrive Announces New Programs to Make eBooks more Accessible

Why Do Libraries Pay More Money for e-books?

Why Do Libraries Pay More Money for e-books?

Libraries in Canada and the United States have been quite enamored with establishing digital collections. This includes audiobooks e-books, magazines, newspapers and video. 95% of all libraries in these two countries have an e-book collection and the costs are starting to add up. Predatory pricing by major publishers are pricing their e-books almost 500% more than the Kindle edition and libraries have had enough.

The simple truth is that there is no uniform landscape of e-book pricing for libraries. Some publishers only allow for an e-book to be borrowed 26 times before the library has to purchase it again. Others opt for the digital license to expire after a single year. Random House and Hachette charge between 100% and 500% more for an e-book over the Kindle or Nook edition.

The Toronto Public Library have been providing some very illuminating figures that really drive home how expensive e-books really are. The new Michael Connelly novel Burning Room costs $14.99 on Amazon, but they are paying $106.00 per copy. John Grisham鈥檚 Grey Mountain costs $15.99 for anyone wanting to buy the Nook version, but libraries pay $85.00. Interested in checking out the new David Baldacci novel The Escape? You can purchase the Kobo digital edition for $14.99 and libraries are gouged $106.00.

Why are e-book prices so expensive for libraries? Well to answer that question we have to look at the fundamental difference between print and an e-book.

When a publisher sells a book directly to a library or from a distributor such as Ingram it abides by the first sale doctrine. Libraries can do whatever they want with the title, including loaning it out without restriction or selling it in a book drive.

e-Books on the other hand do not abide by the first sale doctrine because they are licensed out to the library, there is no clear and defined path of ownership. This allows any publisher to basically establish their own parameters, some are quite perplexing.

Simon & Schuster started offering bestselling frontlist e-books to libraries in 2014. Part of the condition of them making their collection available was to force the e-book distribution companies to implement a Buy it Now button on the libraries websites. Anyone who did not want to be number #891 on the waiting list on a very popular new book, could purchase it and the library got a small commission. In order for libraries to get a hold of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson or The Wright Brothers by David McCullough, they had to all agree to S&S weird policies.

I have talked extensively to the administration of the American Library Association about their efforts to get more favorable e-book pricing and they told me that “The reason why publishers are so hostile to libraries is because the e-Books are loaned out to people who might otherwise be customers, they the publishers need to compensate for those perceived losses.”

How can libraries get more favorable pricing on e-books? A new coalition has just been established in Canada, which comprises of The Toronto Public Library, Canadian Library Council, Ontario Library Association and the Canadian Library Association. They are getting the word out that they are mad as hell and aren’t going to stand for it anymore.

Toronto Librarian Vickery Bowles was promoting the new working group in an聽聽interview to the Toronto Star , she said聽“In 2009, the Toronto City Library spent under $200,000 on its electronic collection, 1.1% of total spending. That figure is expected to be more than $3 million for this year, almost 20% of the entire collections budget. E-books are now growing faster than the library鈥檚 ability to provide them, causing wait times longer than four months as six people wait for a single book.”

Will this organization have meaningful impact in Canada? Well, its the first time a group like this has been put together, so there’s that. In reality, they can get some media attention, but nothing will happen unless there is new government legislation. Something has to be done to compel the publishers to enact a unilateral e-book pricing strategy.

In the end, I don’t think that e-book pricing will change anytime soon. Publishers have only been doing the whole e-book thing with libraries since around, some of them as late as last year. I think everyone is trying to figure the whole e-book thing out, but for profit publishers can’t do it on their own. There needs to be a concentrated effort by consortium’s, library associations, and government to establish common operating parameters for publishers.

Why Do Libraries Pay More Money for e-books?

Soon to be Famous Assists the Editorial Aspect of Indie eBooks

Soon to be Famous Assists the Editorial Aspect of Indie eBooks

Smashwords and Bookbaby have established relationships with Baker and Taylor for digital distribution to libraries. Both of these companies provide a small list of curated authors that assist the people in charge of acquisitions lives a bit easier. One of the downsides that these lists are small and do not have any pertinent sales data or metrics to find out how many copies actually sold and who is buying them. In order to assist libraries better in eBook discovery is the Reaching across Illinois Library System has pioneered an innovative concept known as “Soon to be Famous.”

600 libraries in Illinois share a group catalogue who belong to the RAILS consortium. The system serves more than 1300 private, public, school, and university library members, representing more than 4200 library facilities in a 27,000 square mile area.

The circulation managers who do the group buying recognized the worth of self-published and indie titles, since 23% of all Amazon best-sellers fall into this category. Indie titles often come with a fairly paltry price tag, but they loaning policed are often less convoluted than the big six.

In order to facilitate a better eBook discovery process, over one hundred three self-published fiction titles were nominated and more than 20 librarians across the state served as judges. After a series of eliminations, the top 3 authors were selected and most of their titles were purchased and sent to all of the libraries in the system.

Why did Soon to Be Famous work? Basically it put the power in every librarians hand to read indie titles they actually liked on a personal level and then their specific library would than nominate one title and the process was repeated. The editorial process worked because staff members actually read the eBooks and separated the wheat from the chafe.

I really like what RAILS is doing because they were not content in being spoon-fed small lists from the self-publishing companies and instead coordinated a massive effort. This program should be commended and emulated by others

Soon to be Famous Assists the Editorial Aspect of Indie eBooks