October 20, 2021

OverDrive Announces Patron Drive Acquisitions Coming and a Bunch of Other Announcements Lacking Detail

The platform enhancements named OverDrive WIN***, will be formally announced at ALA in a little over a week.  However, no specific dates (or even a range of dates) as to when any of these enhancements will go live is provided.

This news release from OverDrive has the complete background and a complete list of initiatives that come after OverDrive conducted a series of meetings with the Ohio Metro Library Directors.

Here’s a Complete List of What the “WIN” Update Includes:

  • 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 materialnl

It’s great to see OverDrive announcing that patron driven acquisition will become available. However, it’s only good news in theory because we are provided with zero details. Even a just few bullet points listing key components of the program would have been useful. It’s difficult to believe that there aren’t a few details that can be made public (even preliminary ones).

Moving On

The remainder of today’s news release provides few, if any details, about how these initiatives are going to be implemented and when are they going to be released.

Specifics

1. “Add hundreds of thousands of in-copyright eBook and digital audiobook records with free “eBook Samples” for immediate access on reading devices and platforms.”

Useful but at the same time samples are available from many sources including Amazon, B&N, and the Washington Post. Readers want books to read and as mentioned at the conclusion of the post are finding it challenging to find something to read. We’re not sure samples are going to help.

2. “Offer support for Kindle Library Lending coming later this year, in addition to every major operating system, reading device, and mobile platform.”

We continue to know very little (almost nothing) about the OverDrive/Amazon deal. Also, we’re not sure what’s special or an enhancement hear. If you’re going to launch what will be a major new service for users, libraries, and publishers wouldn’t offering support simply be part of the service?

3. “Provide new ‘always available’ eBook collections for simultaneous access of romance, self-help, young adult, children, and other fiction materials.”

Launch date or even a window of time when it’s expected? A  list of some of the titles would have been useful. Will there be extra costs involved?

Final Thoughts

The patron drive acquisition news is exciting but more details would have been useful. Nevertheless, kudos to OD.

The lack of detail about any of the other initiatives listed is both surprising and disappointing. The details will eventually come to light, perhaps very soon since ALA kicks of in about 10 days. However, if complete details are going to be announced at ALA it would have been useful to mention it today.

Finally, in our view the biggest challenge for all of those involved is making more books available to more users.

We continue to experience ourselves and also hear from friends that when they check eBook availability via their library they often find very little if anything to download and read (except public domain titles). If they want a specific eBook they often have to wait weeks (if not longer) to get access to a specific title(s).

Here’s a cause for concern. How many times will it take a usee or potential user to just walk away from the library altogether when every time they want a book it’s unavailable and/or their is little else to choose from. How can the needs of those wanting an eBook quickly (instant or quick gratification) be met? A loss here is bad for all concerned especially since we read so much press so positive about library ebooks.

This is all easier said than done be unfortunately, we don’t see any potential solutions or ideas to be discussed mentioned in today’s announcement.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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