Note to Overdrive: Make a Deal with Amazon Publishing

To me, this makes sense in the wake of the Random House price hike, Penguin withdrawing their collection, and HarperCollins continuing with their limited eBook checkout policy. Amazon is poised to become the next major publisher, it has the deep pockets that can attract authors of all calibers to their fold, and librarians are hell bent on making sure that libraries offer eBooks to their communities (pricing or terms and conditions be damned). This is the perfect time for Amazon to come in with a public relations win by agreeing to non-sky high pricing with non-limited circulation demands.

Sure, we’ll still buy the essential eBooks by popular authors from HarperCollins and Random House, but we can get more for our money with Amazon authors. Why? Because we want to show genre diversity in our collection, a principle supported by the ability to purchase in quantity. I’ll presume that these books will be available only in Kindle books format, thus leading to hard conversations with members who purchased the Nook under the former understanding that it was completely library eBook compatible. This in turn could encourage people to buy Kindles in the future (or iPads, since they run the Kindle app) and taking away from sales of the Book, the Barnes & Noble device. (Barnes and Noble being the company that publishers are betting on to survive as a physical book retailer.) It will put Amazon authors into the hands of library patrons along with all of the marketing and information collection abilities that Amazon loves to offer and gather. They can achieve market dominance in the library eBook lending field just by showing up and not acting like an ass.

I’m not concerned with retaliation from other publishers. What could they do that they haven’t already to libraries? Would they hold back their print books? Refuse to sponsor ALA association awards? Write out another press release about how much they value their relationships with libraries and librarians yet still won’t consider eBook lending? Honestly, what could they possibly do?

Overdrive, make a deal with Amazon Publishing for eBook lending.

5 thoughts on “Note to Overdrive: Make a Deal with Amazon Publishing

    • Oh, neat! I hadn’t seen that announcement! Very good to know and something else to consider for how to spend any eBook budget money.

  1. Given how incredibly twitchy other publishers are about Amazon — I mean, isn’t the Penguin withdrawal from Overdrive generally assumed to be a response to Kindle lending? — I assume that Overdrive actually cutting a deal with Amazon publishing would result in most of the rest of its publishers, possibly all of the Big 6, immediately axing their contracts. How libraries feel about it is beside the point — Overdrive’s the one negotiating those contracts, and if you were Overdrive, would you really want that to happen?

    • That’s a fair point, but considering they are the middle man in this equation (as you point out), if libraries would be more likely to buy (and buy more) from Amazon than other publishers, then they are just giving their customers what they want, right? They’ll just be cutting off another revenue stream for themselves and alienating readers. But why should that matter?

      • I’m not even convinced they are a middle man. For them to really be one, libraries would have to be more active in negotiating their end of the deal — exerting pressure on what the contracts on the other end look like. Well. Cranky rant elided here, I guess.

        Not convinced libraries would be happier about an Amazon-only solution than a not-Amazon-but-sort-of-some-others solution., though.

        Also, if Overdrive is thinking clearly, they might see cutting a deal with Amazon as a quick step to being Amazon’s bitch. I mean, if cutting a deal with Amazon substantially increases the likelihood that your other suppliers will cut you off…you’d be staring down the barrel of Amazon being your only major supplier, which is to say, Amazon owning you. Certainly a lot of publishers and booksellers are terrified of Amazon’s increasing dominance in the space, hence increasing ability to simply dictate terms of the whole supply chain. If I were Overdrive I don’t know that I’d be so keen on giving them that kind of power over me. (Unless, I guess, I had a long-term plan of “get bought by Amazon”. Maybe.)

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