Is the Honeymoon Over for eBook Lending?
I remember when I first heard about Overdrive, an app that allowed me to borrow electronic books from my local library, without even having to rush down during my lunch hour to the library.
This was an idea whose fruition I had been long awaiting. Within a few clicks, I could have a book in my hands, reading merrily on my iPhone or iPad. I couldn't help the feeling that I had somehow gotten away with something, that some library cop was going to pull back the book from my device and say "No, no no..."
I should have known things were too good to be true. After such a short honeymoon, between Overdrive, me and my iPad, it would appear the library cop has arrived.
As of yesterday, major publishing house Penguin Books has pulled the ability for libraries using ebook lending service Overdrive to lend any new titles, drastically reducing future offerings. Existing titles such as the top lent eBook in Overdrive's system, The Help will remain, but anything else created in the future through Penguin's online publishing arm won't be gracing their virtual shelves.
According to Penguin, their issue was the ease it took to use Overdrive's service. "A key issue that arose in each meeting is the degree to which “friction” may decline in the ebook lending transaction as compared to lending print books," said Penguin in a released statement. "From the publisher viewpoint, this friction provides some measure of security. Borrowing a print book from a library involves a nontrivial amount of personal work that often involves two trips—one to pick up the book and one to return it. The online availability of e-books alters this friction calculation, and publishers are concerned that the ready download-ability of library ebooks could have an adverse effect on sales."Continued on the next page