As of the beginning of October, our library consortium will now be offering e-books (and audiobooks) through the Content Delivery System known as OverDrive. OverDrive has been around for a few years. In Washington, the state library bought an OverDrive subscription for use by all of its libraries.
Here in Idaho, our state library hasn’t yet gotten behind it, and so it’s our comparatively small library consortium that’s buying into it. What we’ll have available for checkout, in contrast to Washington libraries, is miniscule. But it’s a start.
Until last week, OverDrive users who owned most e-readers, except for Amazon’s Kindle, were able to check out e-books on those readers. That’s now changed. If you’ve read about Amazon’s deal with libraries that enables customers to checkout e-books on their Kindle, that’s what the deal is all about.
If you read about it on Amazon, this is what you need to know: Does your library have an OverDrive subscription? Not all e-books are available for checkout, but only those e-books that your library purchased through OverDrive. If your library is a subscriber, and especially if you’re from a huge library system, you are in luck. Larger systems have bigger budgets, and more e-books will be available to you.
Though our subscription to OverDrive won’t go live until sometime in October, I was able to get on the testing website and check out a book I'd ordered for the children's collection on my Kindle. (Okay, I don’t own a Kindle, but I’ve downloaded a free Kindle app on all four of my computers.)
One of the steps in checking out an e-book through the OverDrive/Amazon deal is that you are taken out of the OverDrive website, and dropped into Amazon’s, for the actual checkout. That’s where the e-book is downloaded into your Kindle.
While that process is happening (or immediately afterwards, I don’t remember exactly), Amazon—which knows my buying habits exceedingly well—suggested several other e-books that I might be interested in reading.
If your library has bought a copy of the suggested e-book, you’re in luck. If not, my advice is to do what you’ve always done—fill out a request slip and hand it to your friendly collection development librarian. Only, be sure to state that you want it as an e-book instead of in print. We will be happy to oblige, as what we purchase has always had a direct connection to patron demand.
For the first time in history, last January, the total number of checkouts for adult materials (as opposed to children’s) began to decline in our library district. We attribute the dipping checkout stats to e-book reader purchases having finally reached a tipping point.
Now with libraries subscribing to OverDrive, and especially with the deal struck with Amazon, I expect checkout stats of print materials to begin to landslide. It’ll be very interesting to watch what happens in the next few years. Currently, my library is very limited in space, due to what’d been an ever-growing materials collection, even if we do weed regularly and relentlessly.
Perhaps with the growing use of e-readers, our space limitations will disappear. Perhaps the long lines of bookshelves will also begin to disappear, and be replaced with open spaces for people to read books on their e-readers.