OverDrive, a leading eBook supplier to libraries, made an announcement yesterday that seems like finally a step in the right direction for ebooks. Despite setbacks to the growth of ebook usage (such as HarperCollins forcing libraries to repurchase books after 26 checkouts), OverDrive made an announcement yesterday that it is moving toward open ebooks, free of DRM that will work independent of hardware (iBooks on iPad, Sony Reader, Nook, and Kindle).
Here’s the full announcement from OverDrive that will be supported by enhancements announced further at the American Library Association June 24th – 27th:
As a result of unprecedented demand for eBooks, library directors, advocacy groups, and readers challenged leading eBook supplier OverDrive to find equitable and sustainable solutions to balance the interests of libraries and publishers. Key priorities for librarians include streamlined steps for customers to discover and borrow eBooks on a variety of platforms and devices, strong publisher support for library eBook lending programs, and additional options for digital book collections to meet the swell in demand.
Following a series of meetings with the Ohio Metro Library Directors, OverDrive will address these challenges by announcing a series of platform enhancements at the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference (booth #3326) in New Orleans, June 24-27, 2011.
Titled ‘OverDrive WIN,’ this update to the leading eBook and audiobook service for libraries will:
- Eliminate the need for librarians and readers to deal with various eBook file formats
- Reduce library staff time for collection development and help-desk support
- Offer support for Kindle Library Lending coming later this year, in addition to every major operating system, reading device, and mobile platform
- Add hundreds of thousands of in-copyright eBook and digital audiobook records with free “eBook Samples” for immediate access on reading devices and platforms
- Enable patron driven acquisition, an opt-in program that will allow readers to immediately borrow a title, recommend to a library, or ‘Want It Now’ from online booksellers
- Provide new ‘always available’ eBook collections for simultaneous access of romance, self-help, young adult, children, and other fiction materials
- Launch ‘Open eBook’ titles, free of DRM
“Like so many libraries around the globe, the nine Ohio metropolitan libraries have experienced unprecedented demand for eBooks, so it was essential for us to meet with OverDrive to discuss the future of eBook lending and to conceive new models that would benefit libraries and publishers,” said Pat Losinski, director of the Columbus Metropolitan Library and spokesperson for the Ohio Metro Library Directors group. “We entered this discussion with four main goals, and the solutions presented check every box for moving libraries forward in the eBook space,” he continued.
“Thanks to the collaboration of leading publishers and our library partners in Ohio and on the OverDrive Library Advisory Council, we’ve been able to develop go-forward solutions that can help meet the explosive demand for eBooks from public libraries,” said Steve Potash, president and CEO of OverDrive.
“Complete publisher eBook catalogs on ‘Virtual Branch’ websites—featuring all front, mid, and backlist titles in virtually every subject—will provide readers with the chance to discover and immediately sample tens of thousands of bestselling and popular eBook titles from their local library,” said Dan Stasiewski, OverDrive’s lead library advocate. “This, along with more simultaneous access collections and a patron driven acquisition model, will reinforce the library as the first stop for discovering and enjoying books, both online and off,” he added.
OverDrive will provide additional information on ‘OverDrive WIN’ platform enhancements on the OverDrive Digital Library Blog as they are launched. Information will also be posted on Facebook and Twitter.
Now if only they could take the same stance on audiobooks going DRM-free and launch ‘Open Audiobooks’. I have to waste time every time I try to listen to their audiobooks figuring out the DRM and making it work. I have to imagine librarians and library staff get even more frustrated with the intentionally imposed limitations and increased amount of help desk support they have to provide for all the different gadgets and gizmos patrons have and try to use with OverDrive. These coming changes should hopefully reduce that work and make the process smoother for patrons.