Kindle and OverDrive

The major question on librarians’ minds at OverDrive’s Digipalooza, which concluded yesterday, was when Kindle users will be able to download from OverDrive. The debut is viewed with a mixture of excitement and anxiety. Librarians look forward to being able to serve Kindle users, but worry about being able to buy enough copies to meet the increased demand.

Throughout the conference, CEO Steve Potash, looking like a kid with a delicious secret, kept saying “soon” and, “I’m not allowed to announce a date yer.” During the final session, he delivered a broad hint,  by summarizing the main points of his “Crystal Ball Report” :

Streamlining (both downloading and ordering)
Explosion (we have gone from two reading devices to 85 and more are coming)
Premium (the library catalog as the most premium, value-added site on the Web)
Traffic (enormous growth coming by year’s end)

But Potash delivered a larger and more revolutionary vision in his report; the library website as the first place to go to find in-copyright ebooks with the WIN platform enhancements. For a title that the library does not own, users can recommend that the library buy it or buy it themselves from ebook retailers (including independent stores). As a result, Potash predicted, the value of owning a library card will grow exponentially and traffic will make last year’s increases look like “small fry.” To prepare, he has put his staff on “Maximum OverDrive” to ensure the system will be able to handle demand 100 times greater than last year.

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