Friday, January 20, 2012

eBook Libraries Succeed, For Now

The idea of being able to borrow an eBook rather than buy one, really caught on in 2011. Unfortunately it seems they may become a victim of their own success as publishers have started to see eBooks not as a novelty but as a growth opportunity, provided people can't get them somewhere else for less.

Take OverDrive.com, for example. They are a global distributor of eBooks, audio books and other digital media. Their latest statistics showed borrowers doubled in 2011 from 2010, and viewing more than 1.6 billion books. They actually checked out (borrowed) more than 35 million titles, putting OverDrive firmly on the path to success.

This is great news for OverDrive, except for one thing: Last year Penguin Books pulled their eBooks from the OverDrive catalog, and this week they decided to pull their audio books as well. And Penguin is not the only publisher looking to find better ways to generate revenue from their eBook catalog. Every major publisher is now pouring money into their eBook division in the race to the top of the heap.

Many local libraries still offer free eBooks, and OverDrive is still in business, but publishers are becoming more savvy about just how lucrative the market is and what the sales potential for eBooks might become. This does not bode well for third party companies who make a profit from loaning eBooks. In my opinion, I don't think public libraries are at risk, yet, but if they detract from the revenue model, they will be.

What about you? How many of you would be more interested in borrowing your eBooks rather than buying them?

1 comment:

Julie Duck said...

I've borrowed from the e-library. It was a pleasant experience. However, the books I want are usually not available. New releases seem to be held back, which could be a good thing for the publishers who are looking for borrowing revenue. If there is a way to charge for "new books" we might be able to segue libraries into the digital age without killing them.

- Julie