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Photo courtesy of stuff.co.nz

Photo courtesy of stuff.co.nz


A recent program for UK libraries to lend ebooks has been considered not only a success for institutions and patrons, but also for publishers given the number of click through sales that resulted from borrows. The report, given at a panel at the London Book Fair this week, was from the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) president Janene Cox.

The program, launched on March 3rd, 2014, in four areas of the country, gave visitors to the physical libraries access to content that wasn’t available elsewhere, including new releases. While visitors still had to come into their libraries to access the list of titles, they were gaining this access to content that wasn’t readily available for device lending elsewhere.

The results of the pilot have already been enlightening and positive, and interestingly have also been in line with patron behavior in various pilots and studies conducted by different companies in different countries. Sourcebooks and OverDrive teamed up last year to study the effects of unlimited checkouts and free simultaneous access to one title in particular, coupled with publisher branding of the book. Several years ago, Kobo released the results from its online marketplace that looked at user behavior when ebooks were available for free or at nearly no cost, which is the correlating cost for library patrons.

In almost every aspect, these studies have shown that publishers benefit when their books are readily available for borrowing. The click through rate in library lending is fairly high, with many of the patrons purchasing titles before even finishing the book. As in the Sourcebooks experiment, sales of that author’s other titles–not related in a series to the title that was made available–also increased, as did his social media following as readers sought him out online.

eBook lending has been a struggle for the industry, with different publishers experimenting with different lending parameters and limitations in an effort to protect the interests of their companies and their authors. Libraries have now been shown to be a source of revenue for publishers, not a source of contention.

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As libraries look for news ways to stay relevant and meet their patrons’ needs, increasing numbers of institutions are implementing digital lending. eBook lending, along with movie, music, and audiobook streaming, is helping these entities keep their doors open by offering the content their patrons need in the platforms they want to consumer it.

But one area where digital adoption has traditionally been slow to take root is in children’s and teens’ books, a fact that digital content provider OverDrive is helping to erase with the opportunity for its member libraries to offer digital eReading Rooms. These virtual spaces work much the same as a physical location that caters to young library patrons, but still keeps the need for digital adoption in mind.

A recent blog post from OverDrive outlined how one library in San Antonio is making headway with the incorporation of two eReading Rooms, one for younger readers and one focused specifically for teens.

“The San Antonio Public Library (SAPL) is committed to providing the best possible customer service to our patrons, and kids and teens represent large segments of our patron population. The ability to customize the collections within the eReading Rooms allows us to tailor the content to align with library initiatives like the Summer Reading Program and Teen Tech Week and yearly themed content such as National Poetry Month and Women’s History Month. Also, developmentally appropriate material is now more easily accessible to teachers and parents since content can be searched by reading and interest level. These eReading Rooms bring attention to the great richness of SAPL’s collections, while helping us to accommodate the evolving interest that our patrons have for accessing content digitally,” explained Caitlin Cowart, Community and Public Relations Manager, in the post.

While Cowart went on to explain that a project like this is not a catch-all solution for encouraging reading and library participation, it is a valuable tool for reaching patrons where they are and for making the library an important part of the community for all citizens, not just the few who come to the physical location for content, education, and technology needs.

“The library understands that the digital marketplace is maturing. Remote, online access to library content and resources that is personalized and user-friendly drives the virtual user and positions SAPL as a responsive, innovative resource for a new, technology-conscious generation of library patrons.”

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Most of us have fond memories of our school libraries, remembering them as colorful places with overly friendly librarians. It may be hard to believe, but school libraries are in almost as much danger of closing due to lack of funds as public libraries, even in the era of digital subscription content providers and Bring Your Own Device compatibility.

An article today for The Bookseller highlighted one school library system in the UK, North Yorkshire County, that will be closing its school library service effective March of 2015. The reason? Lack of use on the part of schools. Sadly, the closure of this subscription-based service that schools could opt to pay into will mean loss of qualified resource personnel to assist the schools, collections and titles that the schools could borrow, and even a 20% discount to some bookshops that children from member schools were entitled to, among other services.

This school library service marks the fifth one that has closed across the UK in recent years.

An interesting conundrum is taking place where libraries are concerned and it now appears to be affecting school libraries in an important way. In the US, studies have shown that less than half of survey respondents reported having visited a library or used its online portal in the last year, yet nearly all respondents stated that libraries were vital to their communities. It seems that citizens want libraries to exist, but much like in the case of North Yorkshire County’s schools, they don’t plan to use them. What is seen as a cause for the greater good isn’t fulfilling a need in the majority of stakeholders’ lives.

One key issue that school systems face in the US is the political segregation of individual school systems. Having an area wide school library service would actually be a tremendous benefit. With some counties having as many as five or six different school systems in that county alone, each system having its own numbers of individual schools, having the option to subscribe to the privilege to borrow books from a centralized–even privately owned–library service makes perfect sense. Unfortunately, it’s not a behavior that school systems are used to engaging in. It is far more common to take an “every man for himself” approach to supplies and funding, leading to a serious amount of wasted funds.

With the acceptance of digital content services like OverDrive, hopefully schools will abandon the notion that they do not share resources, even within their geographic locations, and school library services will continue to grow.

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Overdrive is the premier digital distribution service that powers your local library. Part of their business strategy is to deliver content to K12 schools. Penguin and Overdrive have announced that 17,000 eBooks are available for schools to order.

Beloved authors including Judy Blume, Roald Dahl, John Green, Holly Goldberg Sloan and many others bring to life characters that engage readers of all ages through their powerful, playful, insightful and educational prose. Must-have titles include James and the Giant Peach, Superfudge, Counting by 7s, Grapes of Wrath, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Matched Trilogy, The Secret Life of Bees, The Kite Runner, Of Mice and Men, and many, many more. Instruction-based titles such as Who was Sacagawea? or Mark Twain and the River are available for incorporating into lesson plans, activities, group discussions or summer reading programs. Suggested lists are available for educators and include juvenile and young adult fiction and non-fiction titles.

I have reached out to Overdrive to comment on whether or not the Penguin books are frontlist or backlist titles, or a mixture of both. This news item will be updated when they confirm. Each book is under the one loan, one use scheme.

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Overdrive has officially suspended support for their Media Console app for Blackberry. The company confirmed that less then .3% of their users actually have a Playbook or Blackberry 10 device, not enough to warrant further support. Starting April 10th 2014, Overdrive will remove their app from Blackberry World.

If you borrow an audiobook or eBook from your local library, chances are you are dealing with Overdrive. They have the largest market share in Australia, Canada, UK and other countries. The company tends to focus the largest amount of their development effort towards iOS and Android.

Users only have a short amount of time to download the Overdrive app for Blackberry. The Good e-Reader App Store will continue to support the App, so you will be able to always download it for BB10 and the Playbook.

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One of the main frustrations with the digital textbook market is the lack of penetration in public schools at the elementary and secondary level. While the convenience and affordability of digital texts have been available in higher education institutions for some time, it is the tax funded public schools who are still waiting for the benefits that come from digital adoption.

Now, digital content provider to libraries and schools OverDrive has inked a partnership with Pearson to provide the company’s eTexts to its partner academic and public school library members.

“Providing students, parents and community members digital access to our instructional materials in schools, colleges and public libraries around the world is one more way that Pearson is ensuring that all learners can achieve the results they need to be ready for college or careers,” said Larry Singer, Managing Director of Pearson’s School group, in a press release.

Some of the titles that will now be available through this partnership include Prentice Hall United States History, Prentice Hall Economics, enVisionMATH Common Core, myWorld Social Studies K-5, Writing Coach, Interactive Science K-8, AP* French, along with other textbook titles.

“Enabling student access to digital textbooks continues to be a priority for OverDrive,” said Don Fabricant, Chief Sales Officer and General Manager for Education at OverDrive. “Pearson is a leading provider of educational titles, and this partnership represents a significant advancement in eBook materials for educators and students.”

This program will come as a welcome relief to schools who are already struggling to provide up-to-date material in a cost effective way to K-12 students.

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As readers of eBooks continue to expand their reading preferences, they may find that their library or school doesn’t offer digital audiobooks or videos. On the other side, a library or school may not know that their users are interested in these formats. How can people let their library or school know if they want titles in formats not offered?

The best way to request audiobooks or video is simply to ask. Readers can ask library staff members in person, over the phone, or via email. Many library websites offer a feedback or contact form to communicate with library staff.

Users of the OverDrive platform can easily make recommendations to their library or school for titles to add to the collection through a feature called “Recommend to Library.” Recommend to Library allows users to expand search results or browse titles not yet in the library’s collection but available for the library to purchase. For example, if a user searches for a favorite author and the library only offers a few of that author’s titles, the user can click to view all the titles by that author that the library could purchase for the collection. As well with this feature, users can search for a specific title, and if it is not offered, click “Additional Titles to Recommend” on the search results page to see if the library has access to purchase it. This action will search the entire OverDrive catalog of hundreds of thousands titles available to that library or school. The user can then click “Recommend” and submit their recommendation to the library for consideration. The user can also request to be added to the waiting list if the library purchases it. If the title is purchased, the user will receive an email alert notifying them of the purchase, as well as a link to borrow the title if requested.

User recommendations are managed in the OverDrive admin system, allowing libraries to manually review and consider, or automatically purchase titles that meet certain criteria and/or fit within their budget. Many libraries have set aside a percentage of their digital collection budget solely to fill recommendations from users. It’s an easy and effective way for libraries to continue building a collection that serves their community’s interests.

Libraries have access to OverDrive’s catalog of nearly 2 million titles in audiobook, eBook, music and video formats from more than 2,000 suppliers, spanning nearly every genre. Libraries build a custom collection to suit their needs and interests, and can purchase additional formats and copies at any time. Circulation reports are available for library staff to evaluate usage, borrowing habits, and demand for certain subjects and formats. This real-time data helps libraries determine how best to utilize their digital collection budget to ensure a high return on investment.

Libraries are always looking for opportunities to keep readers engaged. Stocking their virtual shelves with the formats and titles that their users want is possible through personal communication as well as automated tools available to facilitate the process for both the user and library or school.

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Library Journal has released the results of its 2014 survey, which tracks materials spending in public libraries across the country. The libraries are categorized according to patron size and circulation size, as well as budget size. In what comes as a tremendous surprise given the frightening state of libraries’ crisis-level budgets, spending actually increased microscopically, which is still far better than a decrease.

The spending on print books, movies/DVDs, and CDs or other downloadable music was interesting, despite the easy availability of movies and music from other sources. While music circulation and spending has dropped, DVDs remain the single best investment with the circulation far outweighing the financial cost.

The unfortunate reduction in print book purchasing could go either way; while ebook spending did increase for most libraries regardless of size, overall materials spending decreased in library systems who had suffered branch closing, reductions in staff, and reductions in operating hours.

In even better news, every category of library size reported an overall increase in circulation for a total 2% increase. In a finding that speaks to the vital role that libraries play, it was those libraries that serve rural communities that reported the highest book circulation numbers, largely due to the lack of bookstores in these communities and the unavailability of “one day delivery lockers” or Sunday delivery from online retailers.

Interestingly, libraries that reported a decrease in total book circulation actually pointed to ebooks as the culprit. With the ease of purchase and download and the more affordable price of digital over print, it appears as though consumers are quick to press the “buy it now” button instead of waiting for the book to become available through the library, either in print or in digital. This phenomenon has been shared for years from companies like Kobo and OverDrive, who’ve worked to convince publishers that library lending and ebooks are good for their business.

The full report from Library Journal is available HERE.

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From the very beginning of digital lending through libraries and personal consumer shares, publishers have been wary of the implications of ebook lending. Once libraries became convinced to at least experiment in the library realm with their digital titles, artificial barriers were often put in place, such as limits on numbers of checkouts and 300% increases in price over an identical title in print. Libraries have suffered under the weight of trying to offer digital lending to their patrons while still ensuring that bestselling and front list titles make it to their virtual shelves.

Digital content provider OverDrive made a monumental announcement today in saying that Macmillan has made its entire ebook catalog available for the first time for lending through OverDrive’s school library partners. From the initial six hundred-plus titles that the publisher originally offered, Macmillan has now made more than 12,000 ebooks available to school libraries for student lending.

“Macmillan offers a wide collection of children’s and young-adult eBooks perfect for the K-12 audience,” said Karen Estrovich, Director of Collection Development at OverDrive. “We are thrilled that our U.S. and Canadian school partners will now have access to these titles, which are highly popular and often requested.”

Unlike some of the restrictions put on ebook lending, Macmillan has made all of its ebooks available without circulation limits, but still under a very standard one-book-one-user model, meaning schools who wish to stock more than one copy–just as they must do with print editions–must purchase additional licenses. The books are, however, only licensed for a 12-month period.

OverDrive has made major strides in the lending sector by helping publishers not only see the security behind opening up their catalogs to lending, but also to see the actual benefits in terms of consumer engagement and increased sales revenue once a book has been borrowed.

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Overdrive Read is an innovative program that sees a single eBook become available for libraries to loan out an infinite amount of times. This is a stark contrast to the normal practice to the one title, one loan mentality. Obviously there is some very compelling aspects of the Reader program, but librarians are beginning to feel ambushed to the short notice of titles becoming available.

Starting February 17th, until March 5th, Food Network and Cooking Channel star Aida Mollenkamp has provided her culinary guide Keys to the Kitchen to libraries that do business with Overdrive. Overdrive gave libraries one week notice via email on the logistics of digitally distributing it to their patrons.

Overdrive has always gave the libraries one single week notice before the start of the program. A fair number are becoming quite vocal about the short notice and their inability to develop internal marketing material to properly promote it. Many librarians all over the USA talked to Good e-Reader at various American Library Association events. Most of them liked the spirit of the program, but were not actively participating due to the one week notice. It simply was not enough time to make flyers or posters, or educate the public on what it is all about.

Kristin Schultz commented “Is there ANY way you can give us more notice than 2 weeks? This is the third time for the Big Library Read and every time it’s like I’m ambushed. Why cannot we have more advance notice for promotion?” Meanwhile, Julie Bauer weighed in “I’d like to echo what Kristin is saying – there is very little time for us to plan anything around Big Library Read (even with that extra week). A couple of months’ notice would be more like it.”

Overdrive should be giving libraries over a months notice before the advent of any Read program. One week, is way too short and going forward, my recommendation is distribute a content calendar of titles coming out later in the year and forwarding them to libraries.

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Libraries in the United Kingdom now have access to HarperCollins titles via Overdrive. Starting today, eBooks and audiobooks will both be available for libraries to purchase and loan out to people who have e-readers, tablets or smartphones.

The terms for the titles are the same as they are for their US titles: each copy purchased may check out 26 times before its license expires and it has to be ordered again.

Readers in the UK will finally be able to checkout some great titles, for free, from their local library. Some of the most notable ones include; the Body Book by Cameron Diaz, Cavendon Hall by Barbara Taylor Bradford, 5 Lbs in 5 Days: The Juice Detox Diet by Jason Vale, A Song for the Dying by Stuart MacBride, How Did All This Happen by John Bishop, Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey by Emma Rowley & Gareth Neame, How to, Fall in Love by Cecelia Ahern, Innocence by Dean Koontz, The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth, We Are Water by Wally Lamb, The Pagan Lord by Bernard Cornwell and Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northrup.

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Overdrive has quietly unveiled a radical change to their audiobook encryption system and it could have massive ramifications for any library that carries them. They are switching from the bulk and cumbersome WMA format and gravitating towards a simple DRM-Free MP3 Edition of the audiobook.

When you read a book, listen to a audiobook or watch a movie, you are mainly doing it with the official Overdrive app for Android, iOS or a number of other platforms. When the loan period is over, the title will disappear from your library and you won’t be able to listen to it anymore.

Overdrive is switching to MP3 because companies like Hachette, Penguin Group, Random House (Books on Tape and Listening Library), HarperCollins, AudioGo, Blackstone, Tantor Media and dozens of others all produce their audio editions in MP3 format. This makes being able to add the titles to the catalog quickly and then resell them to libraries, without a lull period of manually adding encryption.

In a blog post, Ben from Overdrive wrapped up by saying “We will soon be communicating the discontinuance of WMA sales, and then at a future date, we will announce when MP3 files will be the only supported format through OverDrive platforms. For libraries and schools that currently have WMA audiobook files in their collection, we will be working with the publishers of those titles to gain permissions to update your inventory to MP3. In the event that some titles are unavailable, an alternate solution will be offered to make up for the lost titles. Be on the lookout for announcements on our blog and from your Collection Development Specialist for a timeline of this process.”

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As library ebook lending for both academic and public institutions continues to make steady progress, libraries are finally able to “shop” the competition to provide the best user experience for their patrons, the largest catalogs of bestselling titles, and investigate the available features of different platforms. With different choices and different publishers participating in content providers’ catalogs, libraries find themselves with a good deal of leg work in order to provide the best value and best experience.

But according to data gathered this month based on users’ ratings of digital library lending apps, OverDrive has come out as the clear favorite among patrons who reviewed the app.

According to a statement from OverDrive on the honor, “Based on data gathered January 22, 2014, the OverDrive app has rated highest in the Apple App Store among competitors, with the most recent release scoring 4.5 stars out of 5. Across all versions, the app received 37,110 reviews. For comparison, 3M Cloud Library is rated at 3.5 based on 1,595 reviews, while Baker & Taylor Axis Reader’s most recent release is rated 2 stars, with 16 reviews for all versions. Users are raving about the OverDrive app, with thousands of 5 star reviews such as: ‘I have always extolled the virtues of public libraries and now that I can carry the library with me on my iPad, I tell everyone I know about OverDrive.’”

OverDrive showed a similar favored status in both the Google Play and NOOK app stores, once again beating out 3M and Baker & Taylor. This higher rating among users also applied to OverDrive’s audiobook lending app, not just its print.

“Giving readers what they want by creating the best user experience has always been a top priority of ours,” said Shannon Lichty, Director of Partner Services at OverDrive, in a statement to Good e-Reader. “We use feedback from end users and our library partners to continuously innovate, update and strengthen our products. The OverDrive app is feature-rich and intuitive, allowing for easy borrowing on any device.”