Last week a massive new report was released in the United Kingdom that looked at remote e-book lending. The study found e-Book loans are roughly 5% in the UK and 39% of e-book borrowers said that they were much less likely to visit a bookshop; 37% said they were much less likely to purchase printed books; and 31% said they were much less likely to purchase e-books. Overdrive, likely the largest company involved in facilitating digital content in libraries responded to this report, but is nothing but a marketing ploy to get more libraries to sign up with them.
Overdrive is proclaiming that the demand for eBook lending had no negative impact on publishers’, authors’ and booksellers’ businesses. This is a stark contrast to what Tim Godfray, CEO of the Booksellers Association recently said. “There are serious ramifications that we believe e-book lending will have on our bookshops, not to mention the potential reduction of people visiting libraries.”
Overdrive also mentioned that there is no correlation with the assumption that foot traffic at physical branches will be hurt by e-Lending: “Our data indicates that, to the contrary, e-Lending has resulted in a net increase in the number of library users by reaching those in the community that haven’t used the library in years, if at all.”
Does Overdrive really understand the UK market, as much as the head of the booksellers association or the Society of Chief Librarians or The Publishers Association or the British Library Trust and Arts Council England? Likely not. They like to tout that Overdrive CEO Steve Potash testified at the House of Commons in favor of eBook lending in October 2012. This was 3 years ago and they are still beating that dead horse in all of their marketing material.
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.