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.”
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten 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.