Libraries all over the US have expressed concern to Good e-Reader that the vast majority of new e-book titles from Overdrive are not available in the Kindle format. The few books that have been made available are from small presses and not major publishers. Is this something to be worried about?
Overdrive has the largest market share in facilitating digital e-books, audiobooks and videos to libraries all over the United States. Chances are if your local branch offers digital content, its from Overdrive. They are also the only company that offers e-books in the Kindle format.
When libraries desire to make purchases for their branch their first stop is the Overdrive Marketplace. This is where they browse all of the titles available in the system and make buying decisions. Out of the hundreds of new titles that have come out in 2015, only 51 of them are in the Kindle format and they are all from indie authors or small presses. It looks like this is a big delay with everything else.
Have the big 5 publishing companies like Hachette, Simon and Schuster or Penguin put the kibosh on the Kindle format? Have they decided to abandon sending books to the Kindle in an coordinated effort to not empower the e-commerce giant anymore then they have to?
I reached out to Overdrive for comment to try and find out exactly what the situation is with Kindle e-books. David Burleigh Director of Marketing & Communication told me that “I got some background on this issue, and it’s just as I suspected. Almost all of our e-Books are (or will be) compatible with Kindle. We’re aware of delays in availability for some new titles and are working to resolve them as quickly as possible.”
The lack of meaningful information when it comes to the Kindle format has to be unsettling for libraries. There is a heavy population of Amazon users that borrow digital content every single day and if they are looking for the latest bestseller they are out of luck. Many libraries also lamented that they had no idea the Kindle format was not even available until I brought it to their attention and their local Overdrive rep did not give them the heads up about it.
Will libraries forgo spending money on new digital editions, knowing that they are not compatible with Kindle? Will they not buy anything until this situation is resolved? Its hard to say, in the meantime no e-book from a major publisher that was released in 2015 is currently available in the Kindle format from Overdrive.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.