ALA, Apps and an Overdrive Update: Your Libraries and E-Content News Summary

October 8, 2012
Posted in: Uncategorized

The Double Nook Ebook App Launch

A major complaint of patrons who buy Nook tablets (ranging from the Color, to the new HD devices) is that they cannot download ebooks wirelessly. As of this week that is no longer the case. There are library ebook apps for both Overdrive Media Console and 3M for the Nook tablet devices (sorry, Nook Touch folks, keep those USB cables handy). The Overdrive version of Overdrive Media Console is not available via the Overdrive Media Console page, however, only via the Barnes & Noble page: Overdrive’s press release directs users to the Barnes & Noble Appstore. It appears to function similarly to other versions of Overdrive Media Console, particularly the existing Android app, which makes sense given the Nook devices run the Android OS.

As Penguin Launches Pilot with 3M, It’s Already Talking Expansion

As for Penguin, the publisher is already talking about expanding ebook lending to all 3M library customers by the end of this year, even as it launches the pilot project. Great news for libraries? Not if you are already an Overdrive customer and want to restore your patrons’ access to the likes of Nora Roberts and Harlan Coben. Some libraries can afford both systems, but I’m guessing not many; and because a library would lose access to everything that it has invested in via Overdrive should it leave, Penguin will remain out of reach.

An Open Letter to Publishers, and Then Some

The biggest ebook news recently has been the back-and-forth between ALA president Maureen Sullivan and publishers. It all began with her open letter to publishers, in which she took publishers to task for either not allowing libraries to loan ebooks, or for doing so with such restrictions that:

“If our libraries’ digital bookshelves mirrored the New York Times fiction best-seller list, we would be missing half of our collection any given week due to these publishers’ policies.”

In a Digital Book World post on a meeting between ALA and several publishers, Jeremy Greenfield writes that Wiley’s Peter Balis said, “We have twelve different models. You have to come back to us with more than just ‘equitable access at a fair price.”

So, equitable access at a fair price isn’t a sufficient business model for publishers to work with, as Andy Woodworth points out. Frankly, leaving publishers to determine “fair price” gave us Random House and Hachette, so clearly publishers need more specific guidance on that point.

But even so, if libraries don’t get so hung up on ownership, and focus on access, perhaps a simple solution exists, writes Live Oak Public Libraries collection development coordinator Diane Bronson. Comparing ebooks to database records, Bronson points to a flaw (one of many) in how the metaphor of print is preserved in the delivery of digital. Subscription models have worked for databases, and that model has not been tested with ebooks. Or should libraries start selecting individual records and buy them? No? I don’t think so, either.

Overdrive Reboot

Overdrive has started to promote its new advances to its interface, including the READ browser-based ereader, and a new patron interface on Overdrive websites. A new feature will be a “Buy it now” button, giving patrons the ability to by-pass the “friction” of placing holds: patrons who want the book now, can get it now, and choose from a few options, an online retailer to buy it. In return for facilitating the sale, the library gets Overdrive credit. Brian Herzog writes that it is unclear whether this feature is optional, and appears open to it. It also appears as an option in Douglas County Libraries’ home-grown ebook collections, but DCL isn’t paying Random House prices to loan its ebooks, either.

Overdrive READ will be available later this year, but is being used for samples currently for each ebook. It promises to work in browsers and allow tracking your reading progress across devices, all without installation. You can find more Overdrive READ sample titles at the bottom of this blog post by Gary Price.

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