December 2, 2020

The Library as eBookseller: "Entire eBook Catalogs to be Available for Discovery, Sampling & Links to Booksellers…From the Public Library"

From an OverDrive News Release:

A key part of OverDrive’s WIN platform enhancements (“Want It Now”) for its network of 15,000 libraries worldwide, the WIN Catalog will maximize discovery and potential sell-through by providing samples and links to national and local booksellers for library website visitors that discover a title and “Want It Now.”

The WIN Catalog will feature complete long tail collections of eBook and audiobook titles that comprise a publisher’s catalog, 90% or more of which libraries do not have available for lending.  Libraries that opt-in to offer access to OverDrive’s WIN Catalog will earn affiliate fees for all sales referred through a link from their public library website.

To enable the ‘buy-it-now’ links from the library websites, OverDrive has entered into associate and affiliate programs with national and independent bookstores including Amazon, Barnes&Noble.com, Powells.com and Books-A-Million, and is in dialogue with major and independent booksellers in the UK, Canada, Australia and other markets.  For every retail sale referred from a WIN Catalog, the library will earn a credit for the entire affiliate fee.

Good to see that libraries who opt-in will earn an affiliates commission but this might continue to blur the lines between the public library and the online bookstore. Of course, if users are going to by eBooks it’s good to see that the library can make a few dollars from it but again if the integration is not clear to the user, confusion and aggravation are possible.

Confusion and aggravation that the library will have to deal with and could possibly damage the library’s reputation as a community organization vs. an online merchant.

True, users will be purchasing the material from online book vendors but it’s the LIBRARY that’s offering the service and we should be doing all that we can to not pass the buck to others. When we do bring others into the mix, we should have direct contact with them and not have to go through others to get to the source of the issue.

We’ve asked OverDrive a few questions about the program and will update when we hear back. One of the questions is once again asking if the local library receives an affiliates commission if a user downloads a Kindle ebook and at some point in the future purchases it (using the same account) from the Amazon.com web site.

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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