Overdrive has gained the support of over 3,000 libraries for a new pilot project to take ebook accessibility to an entirely new level. The intention behind this new initiative is to create a global “library book club.”
Library partners in the OverDrive network will be invited to participate in the pilot program beginning May 15 – June 1, 2013. Participating libraries will be provided no-cost access to the librarian-selected ebook The Four Corners of the Sky by Michael Malone via Sourcebooks. This title will be prominently displayed on the OverDrive-powered library websites, and discoverable through the libraries’ catalogs. For the pilot, the ebook will be simultaneously available for any and all readers with a library card to browse, sample, and borrow. At the end of the pilot period, the title will be removed from the collection, but libraries can still buy it.
“We want to demonstrate once and for all the enormous influence of the library demographic, and that when libraries put an ebook in their catalog it serves a valuable role in increasing exposure and engagement with an author’s work,” said Steve Potash, OverDrive’s CEO.
Michael Malone said in a statement, “I am passionate in my commitment to public libraries. They are the guardians of both our knowledge and our art, and have always been champions of the faith that reading enlarges our humanity. Thanks to programs like Overdrive, we now have access to the best of world literature in practical, easy-to-use digital formats. That possibility is tremendously exciting to me.”
Sourcebooks and Overdrive will share the data from the ebook being available in so many different libraries. This will gauge whether the program has traction and whether or not it will continue into the future. I surmise that with this particular title getting so much visibility, it could turn into a bestseller. This would be one of the first times a pilot project could propel a book into the upper echelons of book sales.
Big Library Read has the potential to do something in the library industry that is not possible with a physical book. Unlimited copies, available to as many library patrons as you want, without a limit. This is huge news and a very commendable project. Overdrive currently has the largest market penetration with ebook distributing for libraries in Canada, US, Ireland, UK, and Australia with a 90% overall reach.
The status of this report, as well as the whole reach and statistics, will be presented at Book Expo America at the end of the month. Of course, Good e-Reader will be there live, bringing you interviews with all parties involved.
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 CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and Verge.