January 23, 2022

OverDrive & Penguin: Is Something Steve Potash Wrote in February a Clue to What’s Going On?

Like many of you, we’re wondering about what cause today’s OverDrive/Penguin news:
OverDrive Suspends Access to New Penguin eBook Titles, “Get For Kindle” Access Also Shutdown

Only time will tell as to why Penguin decided to change their policy with OverDrive (and libraries) but we’re wondering if a letter by OverDrive CEO Steve Potash to customers (via Librarian By Day, Thanks Bobbi!) that began the HarperCollins saga at the end of February might provide a few clues about what’s going

Potash writes:

…our publishing partners have expressed concerns regarding the card issuance policies and qualification of patrons who have access to OverDrive supplied digital content. Addressing these concerns will require OverDrive and our library partners to cooperate to honor geographic and territorial rights for digital book lending, as well as to review and audit policies regarding an eBook borrower’s relationship to the library (i.e. customer lives, works, attends school in service area, etc.). I can assure you OverDrive is not interested in managing or having any say in your library policies and issues. Select publisher terms and conditions require us to work toward their comfort that the library eBook lending is in compliance with publisher requirements on these topics.

Another area of publisher concern that OverDrive is responding to is the size and makeup of large consortia and shared collections. Publishers seek to ensure that sufficient copies of their content are being licensed to service demand of the library’s service area, while at the same time balance the interests of publisher’s retail partners who are focused on unit sales. Publishers are reviewing benchmarks figures from library sales of print books and CDs for audiobooks and do not want these unit sales and revenue to be dramatically reduced by the license of digital books to libraries.

A lot of what Potash writes about is security of the material. In other words, making sure that the eBooks don’t get into the hands of unauthorized users With the introduction of Kindle access and the overall boom in e-book usage, unauthorized access might have reached a threshold that Penguin isn’t willing to deal with. Will we be hearing from other publishers.

Laura Hazard Owen writes in her paidContent report that the security issues that Penguin writes about can actually be read as piracy concerns.

Stay Tuned!

UPDATE: Another possible reason for the  current situation  is discussed in this post by Dennis Johnson on  Moby Lives:
“Penguin pulls ebooks from libraries in apparent slap at Amazon”

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.