OVERdrive UNDERperforms…


dear readers!!!

what the heck is going on in the world of libraries and ebook providers?? why i’ll tell you what’s going on…SHENANIGANS!

penguinUS, publisher of such well known titles as “with a bare bodkin” and “the strange case of miss annie spragg” and some lesser known titles such as “the satanic verses” and “the help,” anyway… has terminated their contract with the company Overdrive. I’m sure you know that, currently, Overdrive is the main provider of e-books to libraries. even here in little ‘ole greenville, south carolina, our county library is a customer of overdrive. heck the NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY uses overdrive to distribute their e-book content to their patrons. the NYPL – the holy grail of public libraries. patience & fortitude. which brings me to my next point…because that’s exactly what you’re going to need when dealing with this issue.

but, dear reader, in the interest of time (and, of course, your edification), i will give you a reading assignment. and, if i haven’t told you before, which i don’t think i have, paidcontent.org is an EXCELLENT way to keep up with this digital book experiment thing that everybody’s talking about. here are some stories to get you on your way – a chronology of sorts

now if you will remember way back when, i reported on harper collins decision to limit the number of times an e-book could be loaned by a library, then said library would have to re-up each time they ran out of “loans.” that was the beginning of the publisher pushback on library e-book lending.

but, wait, dear reader. just when you were about to lose all hope, random house, publisher of some little trilogy by some swedish guy about a girl and a tattoo, has decided that they will KEEP their e-books in library catalogs…but raise the price. maybe we need a third lion . . . benevolence?

as for overdrive . . . me thinks thou dost promise too much (sorry will shakespeare). the sticky wicket overdrive is caught in seemed to have started when they decided to work with amazon on having content available in kindle format (that exclusive of exclusive amazon format). in addition, links within the overdrive library interface sent users to amazon for possible purchasing of books they may have borrowed from or were interested in borrowing from the library. maybe there were 62 people in front of you when you decided to check out miss annie spragg’s tawdry tale (okay, i haven’t actually read it, so i can’t really say her tale is tawdry). so you think, well, maybe i’ll just pony up the $7.99 to purchase it. from amazon??!!! sacre bleu!! sacrilege!

i had a little internet run-in with a publisher on facebook a couple of months back regarding this very issue. he seemed to take offense to the library/amazon partnership and basically said librarians sh0uld be ashamed of themselves for promoting amazon i.e., allowing patrons to purchase from amazon through the interface. i countered with the fact that the librarian works for the patron, not the publisher. even as a retail bookseller in my previous life, i (and the company i worked for) would rather the customer get the book they needed, even if it meant we helped them go to another store. why? because we are there for the customer/patron.

so what’s a library patron to do? do you still try to be a good citizen and incorporate your local library in your technological advancement? lots of people got e-reading devices for christmas and birthdays and when the gift card that inevitably came with it runs out, where can a patron turn? the other issue for libraries to consider is that when these things happen, the patron doesn’t know the wizard behind the curtain. they only know the library isn’t providing the service expected. so how many black eyes will a library endure until it says “no mas” and throws in the towel (or throws the towel at overdrive). we’ll have to wait and see on that one.

happy reading…no matter the format.

what’s good to read? a red herring without mustard by alan bradley (3rd in the flavia de luce series). that red herring link is to amazon. hah!

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