Questions that Need Answers

So, I’ve been reading the tweets, and talking to some people about the OverDrive/HarperCollins fiasco with ebooks – and it looks like there are quite a few questions that need to be answered. Here they are (please add the ones I’m missing):

  • HarperCollins: Why 26 checkouts/uses?
  • HarperCollins: Did you talk to libraries to come up worn that number? If so, which ones?
  • HarperCollins: Did you talk to any of your authors about this change? What did they say?
  • OverDrive: Why the secrecy in your letter? Why were you hiding HarperCollins’ name?
  • OverDrive: are there other publishers jumping at the bit to do this? If so, when will that hit?
  • OverDrive: Did you argue against this? Because you surely knew that libraries wouldn’t be fond of this idea.
  • OverDrive: My understanding is that this announcement went out as a PDF file to OverDrive partners. How come you didn’t publish this as a press release on your website? Again – shy the secrecy?

So – what other questions need answers here?

  • Penelope

    Great questions! I’d love to know the answers to them, as well. But I think that OverDrive may have hidden the name of the publisher for fear of backlash (accusations of libel, defamation, etc). I would like to know why they didn’t publish the PDF, though…or stand up for libraries.

  • Sbents

    My question–Will there be a corresponding drop in the price Overdrive charges libraries for the ebooks?

  • Jenny Reiswig

    I would love to know how they came up with 26. Presumably there is data on how often the average paperback circulates in public libraries, maybe it’s based on that? Complete guess.

  • Jenny Reiswig

    I would love to know how they came up with 26. Presumably there is data on how often the average paperback circulates in public libraries, maybe it’s based on that? Complete guess.

  • Tom Peters

    This question is slightly tongue-in-cheek: Why didn’t HC announce this openly that this new regime would take effect in a week or a month? Because this decision, as I understand it, is not retroactive to previously purchased HC ebooks, HC could have sold a bunch of copies before the new rules took affect. What a lost sales opportunity!

  • Braehenry

    Me too. I have always respected OverDrive as a company, but where are they when we need them?

  • Heather Braum

    What about all the other publishers who don’t even allow lending of ebooks at all, let alone Harper’s change in policy?

  • Erin Downey Howerton

    My speculation is that it’s based on an average 2 week-long circ… each book will be allowed one year’s worth of circ before requiring “repurchase.”

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  • Anonymous

    Legit questions but I’m afraid I can, for the big part, predict the answers myself. Isn’t it about time we come up with our own model instead of analyzing what drives 3rd parties and work from there?

  • Jimmmy the Geek

    What about this asinine need to see patron data? It’s none of your business where our patrons are from, especially if we have reciprocal lending agreements or are part of a multi-county consortium!

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  • Cathy B

    HC’s new licensing model is effective at 9am on March 7, 2011 on Overdrive. So there’s about a 1 week window to browse and order before ceasing to order any more HC titles. And Overdrive is segregating and making the purchasing of HC titles rather delightfully obnoxious after that date.

  • davidleeking

    Jaap – yep. I agree! That’s why I’m involved in Library Renewal – that’s on
    our list of things to tackle!

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  • Anonymous

    Hope to get some of the Library Renewal crew on TWIL soon to talk about the possibilities.

  • Noni Mous

    OverDrive doesn’t owe anything to libraries, they’re a business, not a non-profit. They report to their board and investors, libraries are just the mechanism in which they make money. OverDrive profits from this deal too, they get a portion of each second sale when that license runs out. Libraries own no share or right to OverDrive.

    Libraries don’t even own any materials or have any ownership in the development of the front end, backend or storage of the “licensed” material.

    If anything libraries should blame the people within their own organizations who allowed this structure grow and expand like it did, its not like people weren’t predicting it was coming or anything. People have been talking talking talking about ebooks and content rights since they began, but no one’s actually gone beyond talk.

    The only way for libraries to get out of this mess of not owning a thing is stop just talking, and discussing, and arguing about it, like libraries always do, and build their own platform and argue their own terms and not leave it up to some third party company, that like any business will think of itself first.

  • davidleeking

    That’d be awesome – let us know when!


  • davidleeking

    Noni – just a minor disagreement here. I’m not sure OverDrive would get a
    cut of that second sale. It all depends on how their payment model is set
    up. It could very well be some type of annual use fee, rather than a
    per-item fee.

    But otherwise, yep – I agree. We need to stop just talking, and actually
    start doing something about it. That’s why I’m a board member at Library
    Renewal ( – we hope to actually DO something about it.

  • Braehenry

    What role did the Overdrive Library Advisory Council play in this process, especially the Content & Licensing Task Force? And what librarians serve on that Task Force? or on the Advisory Council?

  • Generatebarcode

    Excellent one, Please try to publish answers of these questions in the next one, if PDF for Overdrive should be mentioned that’s good and reason to hide publisher name is just to avoid any controversy.