Thursday, July 17, 2008

Overdrive Announce US Digital Tour

Marketwatch reports today on Overdrive’s Digital Bus tour across the USA. The bus tour travels under the name as is a programme aimed at introducing the public to digital content in all formats, audiobooks, ebooks, music, videos that are available from their local library and to enable them to ‘immerse themselves into an interactive learning environment.’

The tour kicks off on August 10th in Central Park with The New York Public Library and other events are scheduled in the following days at Queens Borough Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library. The tour will travel across the USA in 2009 and a full schedule is available at The Digital Bookmobile is hosted by individual libraries in support of their download services and operated by OverDrive inside its 74 foot, 18 wheel tractor-trailer.

The community outreach vehicle is a great idea and certainly could create an engaging experience around the individual library’s digital media collections. The exercise should bring several questions to the table. Are the downloads are free under the public lending rights? Will access be restricted to only local residents? Why should a consumer buy a digital copy when they can rent it for free? Will borrowers be able to download from anywhere for free once they are registered? Is the inventory on offer truly local or is it a library offer from Overdrive and therefore a free white label offer?

The relationship between libraries and bookstores in the digital environment is far more sensitive than in the physical world. Here copies and access were limited and the borrower had to visit the library to both lend and return. In a digital world they merely may just log on, download, consume and it automatically deletes itself at the end of the term. How do bookstore compete with that offer?

The tour is a great idea and the digital outreach a real smart idea but what is the consequenses if it canabalises bookstores sales. Overdrive still get paid, libraries still pay, publishers still achieve library sales, the consumer get content for free but what is the impact on author’s royalties and on the bookstores and campus stores?

No comments: