Archive for overdrive


Overdrive has just unveiled their new Dr. Seuss e-Book collection that is available to Canadian and US libraries. The big selling point is that these titles are available in EPUB3, but none of the content has interactive elements. If you are expecting multimedia enhancements, prepare to be let down, these e-Books all just have fixed layouts.

Dr. Seuss titles, published by Random House Children’s Books, include some of the most beloved children’s titles of all time. Titles include The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, The Lorax, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Oh the Places You’ll Go! and many more. See the complete list and sample an excerpt here.

“No children’s collection is complete without Dr. Seuss, and now public and school libraries can have these popular titles as eBooks,” said Karen Estrovich, director of collection development at OverDrive. “We’re excited to make these available in EPUB3 fixed-layout, as the author intended, to preserve the original flow and experience that we all are familiar with.”

Dr. Seuss titles are available on a one-copy per-user basis in OverDrive Read, OverDrive’s browser-based reader. Once the title is checked out in OverDrive Read, there is no app to install and the title becomes instantly available in the browser without downloading.

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Overdrive has just released their first app for Chrome OS, which also works as a standalone app for the Chrome internet browser. It was designed as a tool to primarily read eBooks that you borrow from the library.

Over 35,000 libraries all over the world use Overdrive as their content distribution system of choice. When you borrow eBooks, audiobooks, music or videos from your local branch, chances are it stems from the Overdrive service.

The functionality of the Chrome app is totally different, depending on if you are using the browser extension for Windows,  Chrome OS, Chrome for Android and a myriad of other platforms. Thanks to a diligent young scholar over at MobileRead, here is the full list of supported features for each platform.

Windows OS — Chrome Browser

  • Kindle eBook
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
  • Open EPUB eBook
  • PDF eBook
  • Open PDF eBook
  • OverDrive MP3 Audiobook
  • OverDrive WMA Audiobook

Android OS — Android App

  • Kindle eBook
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
  • Open EPUB eBook
  • PDF eBook
  • Open PDF eBook
  • OverDrive MP3 Audiobook
  • OverDrive WMA Audiobook

Chrome OS — Chrome Browser

  • Kindle eBook
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
  • Open EPUB eBook
  • PDF eBook
  • Open PDF eBook
  • OverDrive MP3 Audiobook
  • OverDrive WMA Audiobook

Chrome OS — Chrome App

  • Kindle eBook
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
  • Open EPUB eBook
  • PDF eBook
  • Open PDF eBook
  • OverDrive MP3 Audiobook
  • OverDrive WMA Audiobook

Some content is better than no content at all I guess. At least owners of the Chrome Pixel or any number of sub $200 Chromebooks can finally be able to read eBooks borrowed from the library.

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Libraries all over North America have been embracing digital and over 90% have some sort of eBook collection. Not only do they have eBooks but audiobooks, digital magazines and newspapers. Many libraries deal with more than one company for their digital content, which makes the lives of patrons a little more difficult because they have to install many different apps on their smartphones and tablets to get the job done. What if things were simpler?

The Queens Library system in New York has developed their own proprietary app for Android and iOS. It offers library patrons seamless search and access to audiobooks from Acoustik, magazines from Zinio, and eBooks from OverDrive and Baker & Taylor’s Axis 360 platform. Other features include location, mapping, and contact information for each branch, a catalog search, an ISBN barcode scanning function that enables users to scan books in retail environments to see if titles are available at their library, an events schedule that enables registration, an “ask a librarian” live chat service, a contact information form, and even a text-to-donate option.

Since the apps launch in July they had 5,400 installations on iOS and more than 3,300 on Android. This has prompted Queens to consider developing apps for other libraries, leveraging their 50 person IT team to make digital content more accessible.

Queens is doing an amazing thing. Instead of forcing their patrons to install the Overdrive Media Console, Zinio, Acoustic and the Axis360 app, they have one app to rule them all. This dramatically simplifies the browsing and consuming of digital content, which is tremendously intuitive.

It remains to be seen if Queens can market this to other libraries, but the core concept is sound. All they are doing is simply using the public API tools these vendors make available and presenting it in a neat little package. I am sure major libraries all over North America could make something like this if they had the time and inclination.

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Barnes and Noble has quietly been building a large catalog of digital newspapers and magazines for their Nook line of e-readers and tablets. In order to glean more market share, the largest bookseller in the US has just partnered with Overdrive to make available content from the Nook Newsstand to libraries.

NOOK Newsstand features the largest digital collection of the top 100 bestselling U.S. magazines, available for both digital subscriptions and single copy sales, and a vast collection of newspapers and magazines from around the world. A huge selection of that content will be available for readers to check out for free from their local library. The new partnership between OverDrive and NOOK Newsstand will enable readers to access popular magazines and newspapers in the same manner, and on the same website, as they discover and borrow OverDrive eBooks, audiobooks and streaming video. Libraries will be able to purchase concurrent access to all selected publications.

Library patrons can check out these digital magazines and newspapers with a valid library card and read them through their NOOK account via a NOOK tablet device or Free NOOK Reading App available for a multitude of smartphones and tablets. Customers who download NOOK Newsstand content through their local library always have access to the free in-store support and expertise provided by the booksellers at Barnes & Noble’s more than 650 bookstores across the U.S.

“NOOK Newsstand is one of the leading providers of digital magazines and newspapers and this new partnership with OverDrive is another example of our commitment to delivering great content to all readers,” said Jonathan Shar, Vice President and General Manager of Emerging Digital Content at NOOK Media LLC. “OverDrive is the foremost supplier of eBooks to libraries and we are thrilled to partner with them to offer library patrons the opportunity to access our award-winning content and reading technology.”

“The new digital service for periodicals will provide readers the ability to read digital magazines and newspapers with a best-in-class user experience,” said David Burleigh, Director of Marketing & Communication at OverDrive. “Your library card, a NOOK Account, and an Internet connection are all you need to enjoy visually stunning magazines and familiar newspaper layouts on almost all tablets and smartphones.”

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One of the last groups to adopt ebooks in a widespread and focused way is the K12 education sphere. While digital textbooks have been painfully slow to reach the public school market, ebooks have been an even slower format when it comes to kids and reading. OverDrive has made ebooks even more accessible, though, along with initiatives like Qlovi and Smashwords’ OverDrive partnership.

A webinar taking place this week from Data Conversion Laboratory will explore easy ways that school systems, teachers, and educational stakeholders can incorporate the shift to ebooks in the classroom, while exploring feasible strategies that let digital initiatives support student learning outcomes.

One of the chief obstacles for ebooks in the classroom is the hard data that demonstrates students not only prefer print books over ebooks when they have the power to self-select the texts, but also that demonstrate a possible drop in reading comprehension scores after consuming content in digital formats. This has been attributed to the understanding on the part of the students that the tablet contains far more interesting forms of entertainment than ebooks, and that rushing through to the end will afford the students the opportunity to play games or engage with social media. Overcoming that mindset is a chief concern of educators.

However, critics also argue that there’s no “need” for forcing students to overcome their aversion to ebooks, but that is unfortunately not the case. With more and more universities incorporating the advantages of digital textbooks and browser-based learning platforms, today’s K12 students are tomorrow’s digital university students, and therefore must strike a balance between the ease, convenience, and affordability of ebooks, while still optimizing for educational performance.

The webinar will be held Wednesday, July 16th, at 1:00pm ET. Registration for the free webinar is available from Data Conversion Laboratory’s website, found HERE.


Library Collection Managers often have to buy the titles they want to make available to their patrons. eBooks, audiobooks, music and streaming movies all have to be purchased in advance in order to have them included in the catalog to be loaned out.  Sometimes the digital offerings take up a tremendous amount of capital and if a librarian is out  of touch with the needs of the community, money can sometimes be wasted.  An emerging trend is starting to catch on that may solve this conundrum, pay per use.

The pay per use model is starting to be embraced by a number of companies such as Overdrive and Hoopla. The concept allows the library to include the entire catalog of content and only pay when a customer borrows it. Instead of selectively deciding what audiobook or movie to buy, they can just display everything. Backend tools allow the collections manager to set monetary thresholds to insure they don’t go over budget.

Hoopla is an established audiobook company that has been in business for close to 20 years, but has only been doing digital for the last two. The company has one of the largest selections of audiobooks and do not charge libraries any sort of fees to use their system. Whenever a customer borrows an audio editions from the app or the website they can immediately listen to them without having to download any 3rd party apps. Librarians dig the ability to make their own collections, incase they want to manually curate the way everything is displayed.

Overdrive is experimenting with pay per use as part of their new arrangement with Warner Brothers. The company is making many backlist titles available within their Media Console App. Libraries will not have to buy the movies in advance and instead only pay when a patron borrows a title. Backend tools allow librarians to establish a daily, weekly or monthly revenue threshold, similar to Hoopla.

One of the main benefits of the pay per use model is that publishers are likely to embrace this as an avenue to further monetize their eBook sales.  Penguin Random House, Hachette, Simon and Schuster and HarperCollins all have different mindsets when it comes to selling content to libraries. Some only have a 26 checkout limit before librarians are forced to buy the title again, some expire after one  year and others mandate libraries have to sell eBooks directly. The Pay per Use model would insure frontlist and backlist titles would always be purchased, which would help drive down prices to less than wholesale.

Pay per use is not yet a fixture at libraries yet, but established players are starting to adopt. This system is still in its infancy and there is little financial information available on the costs libraries are paying or if the business model has long-term viability. Still, showing the entire catalog of content is fairly compelling. Hopefully companies like McGraw Hill and Follet start adopting pay per use to assist in more widespread adoption.


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 unveiled their streaming video service last year and the service allows Canadian and US libraries to offer digital movies to their patrons. The company has just signed a distribution deal with Warner Brothers that will add hundreds of new titles to their catalog, but with a catch. Libraries no longer have to buy the titles in advance.

Libraries will be able to benefit from a new transactional, pay-per-use lending model from OverDrive for the first time. This model eliminates the need to purchase titles in advance of their use and ensures that titles are available instantly to all patrons simultaneously. Libraries can curate the video lists that want to get setup and offer content that will serve their communities.  They can also set user lending policies for Warner Bros. movies to manage costs within their material budgets.

Library patrons across the U.S. and Canada will be able to use PCs, Macs, iPads, iPhones, Android Tablets or nearly any connected device to stream videos from their library. Building on the existing OverDrive catalog, Warner Bros. titles such as I am Sam (Academy Award nomination for Best Actor: Sean Penn), Natural Born Killers (Starring Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis, Golden Globe nomination for Best Director: Oliver Stone), Insomnia (starring Al Pacino and Robin Williams, Directed by Christopher Nolan), and Life as a House (SAG Awards nominations for Leading Actor: Kevin Kline; Supporting Actor: Hayden Christensen) will soon be available for lending.

OverDrive is the world’s largest supplier of digital content to public and school libraries, but that content isn’t only ebooks. The company also meets the needs of libraries and their patrons with music, audiobooks, and the ability to stream movies from the library. OverDrive announced a recent addition to that catalog that will increase its already-10,000 strong list of movie titles to include great new programing from National Geographic, BBC, and more.

“Streaming video is the fastest-growing category of digital titles you can now access from your local library,” said Alexis Petric-Black, OverDrive’s manager of publisher account services, in a press release. “The OverDrive collection of Hollywood feature films, documentaries, self-help and beloved children’s titles permit the public library to offer a first-stop destination for what to watch online.”

The bigger news, though, is the availability of new foreign language titles through a large addition to OverDrive’s catalog. Some 30,000 new titles from major European publishers have been incorporated, adding to the accessibility of content for native speakers and interested language learners alike.

“Renowned international publishers and aggregators recently added to the OverDrive network include RCS Group (5,000 Italian titles), Libranda (12,000 Spanish titles), Zebralution (2,000 German titles), DeMarque (8,000 French titles), and Primento (1,500 French titles). Imprints under RCS Group include Adelphi, Bompiani, BUR, Marsilio, and Rizzoli, with authors such as Umberto Eco, Oriana Fallaci, Dacia Mariani, and Papa Francesco (the Catholic Pope). Zebralution brings works in the German language from authors such as Timur Vermes, Phillip Müller, Dan Brown and Ken Follet.”

This recent addition brings that total amount of content that member libraries can use to build their catalogs to just over two million titles.

Libraries are certainly working under difficult constraints while working to remain a relevant source of community support and engagement. The constant slashing of budgets, reductions in staff and hours of operation, and the obstacles libraries have faced in ebook lending have all led to stress levels of many libraries. But a new service from Mosio will add a layer of relevance and connectedness that can help librarians stay in touch with their patrons through virtual contact.

“Mosio helps librarians increase their discoverability, accessibility, and availability,” said Noel Chandler, Mosio co-founder and CEO, in a press release. “Patrons have millions of choices when it comes to finding information online, and that information may or may not be authoritative. By helping librarians embed themselves in multiple online locations, we ensure that patrons have real-time access to the support they need to make better information decisions and achieve greater outcomes.”

Mosio’s beta customers have already embedded the customizable OmniWidget in more than 10,000 places including the ProQuest, OverDrive, EBSCO, OCLC and Exlibris platforms. A number of libraries have indicated more patrons reach out to them via the widget than their current Contact Us pages.

“Since customizing Mosio’s widget with our library branding and integrating it with our website and databases, we have seen more patron engagement and higher usage of our electronic resources,” said Linda Jones, Education Librarian, Dixie State University. “Working with Mosio means we can provide a higher level of service while collecting the data we need to prove ROI to key stakeholders.”

This instant access to libraries and their support administrators in the places that patrons naturally look–like Facebook–can help the public perception of what purpose libraries serve, all while allowing librarians to connect with the people their institutions serve. This increased engagement is important for demonstrating traffic to the powers who create budgets, as library traffic is no longer limited to bodies who walk through the doors.

To try the service and join more than 2,000 member libraries who currently use Mosio’s features for patron connection, librarians are encouraged to visit Mosio’s trial link HERE.


Library lending of ebooks and other digital content is finally gaining a foothold in the industry as publishers and lending institutions come to some measure of agreement on how to make it work. While libraries need access to up-to-date but affordable content, and publishers need some guarantee they they will be compensated for allowing their titles into lending catalogs, the model is slowly taking off in greater numbers of libraries.

Besides the drawback that publishers are still imposing checkout limits and raising the price of an ebook by as much as 300% for libraries, the biggest obstacle may be instituting the lending program itself. While companies like OverDrive and 3M Library System are to be commended and have certainly pioneered the current lending model by striking agreements with major publishers, the subscription fee to participate in those models is still an overwhelming budget item for most smaller libraries.

hoopla digital, the recently launched digital division of library content supplier Midwest Tape, has launched a lending model for libraries that stands to change that. This model, which relies solely on pay-per-transaction, is a great alternative for libraries who balk at the cost of joining one of the major digital supplier’s subscriptions.

“We wanted to give libraries a way to be relevant in the digital age,” explained hoopla’s Jeff Jankowski in an interview with Good e-Reader. “Why take the limitations of the physical world and apply them to start of the art digital?”

These limitations that Jankowski referred to include things like wait periods and simultaneous checkouts, along with the subscription required to offer content to library patrons. This pay per use model means there are no longer any holds or unavailable books, as libraries only pay when patrons consume content.

“You can’t retain customers if you have dissatisfied customers. Publishers like [hoopla] because no holds or waits means no dissatisfied customers. This helps libraries stay relevant.”

That relevance is really the key to what makes hoopla an ideal model. As libraries joyfully spread the news that they now offer ebook lending, the reality is that patrons often go to the media console for their specific libraries only to find a limited catalog filled with older backlist titles, many of which are checked out because that’s all there is to read. This frustration has led many patrons to think their libraries can’t even do a good job when they do offer 21st century content capabilities.

hoopla works as a single app for patrons to use in order to download ebooks, stream movies, or stream music, all of which libraries only pay for as the content is borrowed. Of course, there are parameters libraries can set up individually, such as patron checkout caps or loan periods so they don’t find themselves with an unexpected bill due to a high volume of patron traffic. Libraries can also see an up-to-date dashboard of traffic and fees, and also receive alerts when they are nearing their monthly budget limit.


Smashwords is a self-publishing service that allows authors to submit eBooks and list them for sale on Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and other major retailers. Smashwords has managed to convince the largest digital distributor Overdrive, to start offering 200,000 sub-par indie titles to all of their partners. This is a terrible move for the library buying community.

Smashwords has successfully convinced Overdrive that there is value with their catalog of 300,000 eBooks, 200,000 of which are available to libraries. Smashwords compelling argument is that front list ebooks from Big 5 publishers can cost libraries $80, and even backlist ebooks can cost libraries $20-40. Smashwords titles will only cost libraries of $4.00, which sounds good on paper and economically feasible.

In reality 95% of all Smashwords titles have non-existent editing, poor formatting and abysmal cover art. The truth of the matter is that Smashwords does not have a curation system to vett the wheat from the chaff. They will publish anything and often hype the fact that everyone has a right to publish. Smashwords consistently promotes their top 25 list and their top 100. There is a reason why they do not go beyond 100.

Smashwords has managed to convince another large company that their catalog is valid and has meaning to readers. They were able to leverage the Library Direct system they developed in 2012 and distributed in a handful of libraries in the US. In reality, the Smashwords catalog is irrelevant and has no value for companies like Overdrive. Unknowing library buyers are going to think they are getting a deal with 100 romance titles for 1/4 the cost of big six titles, until readers start complaining, and they WILL complain.

Libraries are going to feel ripped off that they have bought titles that no one will read and if they do, will likely be very vocal about the poor writing quality and in the end, libraries will feel like they have wasted money. Trust me, they are wasting money with Smashwords, if you don’t believe me visit the main smashwords website and select 3 books at random, and let me know if they are any good. Even Mark Coker refuses to measure the quality of his service by doing this, which is a solid methodology to gauge the quality of a self-publishing website.

I would caution libraries into purchasing eBook titles that are branded as Smashwords Publishing. Their entire ecosystem is flawed and they will accept anyone into distribution for libraries. This goes against the entire mandate that libraries are funded by the public and in return loan books to inform, entertain and to educate. The average Smashwords title does not offer any of the above and should be avoided at all costs.

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At an IDPF and BISG panel today as part of its Making Information Pay event, speakers addressed one of the key changes the publishing industry is undergoing: ebook subscriptions. When 24Symbols launched in 2010 as a Netflix-style model for ebook consumption, publishers weren’t quick to jump on board, at least not in the US. One reason may have been that the company was simply too far ahead of its time; at that time publishers were still being convinced that ebooks were even a viable format for reading. Subscriptions were just too far out there.

Now, ebook subscriptions are growing in popularity, with readers and publishers alike. Everything from short term loans, all-you-can-eat, paywall leveled, freemium, and open access are arriving on the scene, and each has its pros and cons.

According to data from a BISG survey, 80% of publishers reported that they would have to participate in subscription-based reading due to its popularity in the market. Those publishers have often started with midlist or backlist content, but as the concept and its compensation structure have become clear, some publishers are even placing their frontlist and bestselling titles in the models.

“Different compensation models depend on that, but is it important to own the works or to access them?” asked Ted Hill of THA Consulting to a capacity crowd. “The market drives the model.”

These models all have different structures and different variances in compensation. A library who participates in OverDrive is a subscription model, just as a single user who pays a monthly fee for Oyster or Scribd is as well. Of course, Hill highlighted the fact that other models that consumers and publishers are familiar with are also technically subscriptions, such as textbook rentals in higher education.

“The big concern right now is the impact of the so-called Netflix model, and whether all you can eat is good for [publishers] or bad for them.”