How Do Libraries Get Their e-Books?
OverDrive, the main distributor to libraries has more than 1,000,000 e-book titles available and growing. They were the early pioneers in the digital lending space and developed the e-book lending systems used by most libraries today. Overdrive uses the same Adobe DRM (Digital Rights Management) system as Kobo, Sony, B & N and Google Books to protect files from piracy and manage the lending period of library e-books. Overdrive also offers a program called “Advantage” where individual libraries and library systems buy extra titles or copies to fill local demand.
Audio-Book and e-Book Lending Exploded
In these statistics you can see the tremendous growth in circulation numbers from just one library during the last years. In the meantime the numbers are much higher!
August 2005 – 231
August 2009 – 16,680
Nov. 2009 – 17,521 ——— 776
Jan. 2014 – 57,672 —– 191,303
Libraries face many challenges from setting up their internet infrastructure to the actual ebook license acquisitions. In regards to e-Books the initial problems were: staff training and learning how to use and upload e-Books to different devices. Integrating the titles into the library system’s online catalog took some time. Getting a download link from the catalog took even more time.
Trade Publishers are the Problem
Acquiring the ebooks, is a problem for most libraries because e-book licensing from trade publishers can cost as much as or more than a print book. Several publishers still refuse to sell to the library market. Other publishers are taking advantage on cost and “metering.” Random House will charge $83 for an eBook and Harper Collins has a 26-time checkout limit. Libraries “buy” the books, but ownership is determined by the vendor/publisher agreements. If a contract is not renewed will the library still own the titles?
The e-book library market is split between vendors and devices. Costs of content and administrative fees are increasing which can make e-books more expensive than print. Library users persevere because the rewards of checking out e-books from a library are tremendous with the ever-growing inventory of e-books. Yet there are usually a couple extra steps between checking the item out and loading it onto a device. Using an app does seem to solve a lot of this trouble.
Selling e-Books to Libraries
The Washington County Library System in Minnesota, United States, has been growing their e-book collection in the last few years. Their entire system is using an innovative method to develop their ebook portfolio. Local authors are encouraged to submit their own novels in electronic format to add to the existing library system using “Library Local Connect.”. A similar initiative is currently in place in Douglas County, Colorado, USA. This helps libraries to increase their online e-book portfolio and gives exposure to local authors. Ask your library if they have a similar program.
Overdrive downloads into the library catalog. However, as an author, if you’re interested in getting your ebooks into libraries, you have limited choices. They are explaining on their website: “OverDrive delivers BEST-SELLING digital audio-books, eBooks, music, and video for download directly from a custom-built ‘Virtual Branch’ website. The world’s leading libraries, including New York Public Library, Toronto Public Library, and Singapore National Library, use OverDrive to deliver content to their patrons.”
Which means dealing with the wholesaler/distributor OverDrive works only for authors who can proof great sales numbers. Hopefully sales to libraries will one day be commonplace.
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