July 24, 2014

Q&A: Steve Potash, President and CEO of OverDrive On New APIs, OverDrive Read, WIN Catalog and More

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On Wednesday, October 17, Library Journal and School Library Journal will host “The Digital Shift: Libraries, Ebooks and Beyond,” our 3rd annual ebook summit. This online, all-day program will explore how libraries are navigating the transition from print to digital and integrating “e” into collections, catalogs and classrooms.

OverDrive, the leading multichannel digital distributor in the world for ebooks, is a platinum sponsor of the event, and LJ asked President and CEO Steve Potash to discuss several new developments at the company, including new APIs to help libraries simplify ebook integration, the new OverDrive Read browser-based ereader, and the company’s new WIN catalog.

LJ: OverDrive recently introduced its WIN catalog. What kind of reception has it been getting and are there any features proving particularly popular?

Steve Potash: We’ve received a very positive response to the new features in the WIN Catalog.  Library visitors at OverDrive-powered library websites are now able to discover and sample ebooks and audiobooks across entire front-, mid- and backlists (from publishers that have provided library lending rights), even if a particular title or author hasn’t been added to the library’s collection for lending.  In addition, the “Buy-it-Now” and “Recommend to Library” options are both seeing significant usage – all of which enables libraries to save time and enhance their ability to connect readers with books and authors.

You also recently released a set of APIs to help further integration efforts. How has that been going?

It’s only been a few months since we opened the OverDrive APIs through the OverDrive Developer portal, but we’ve seen tremendous interest from libraries, ILS vendors and others.  We’re impressed with the creative new ways that are being developed for readers to discover ebooks from library catalogs.

What is your outlook on greater participation of the Big Six in library lending?

We work closely with more than a thousand publishers and all of the major trades for retail, schools and libraries.  For schools and libraries, we are very proud of our partnerships with Random House and HarperCollins for ebooks & audiobooks, and with Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Penguin and Hachette for audiobooks.  At the same time, we are actively preparing to pilot new school ebook programs and are encouraged that this may lead to additional options for public library lending of ebooks.

How has the rollout of “OverDrive Read,” your new ebook platform, gone?

The Next Generation digital library platform has received excellent reviews so far, and OverDrive Read – the instant access, browser-based e-reader with no installation or downloads – is creating excitement among our library partners and patrons.  We introduced OverDrive Read samples (excerpts) in early September and can already report a significant increase in browsing and discovery on library websites!

 

With a full day of programming, including tracks designed specifically for public, academic and school libraries, professionals from administrative to administrators will find a wealth of new information, innovative ideas and best practices to put to use in their own libraries at The Digital Shift: Libraries, Ebooks and Beyond. Register at www.thedigitalshift.com/events/ebooks-and-beyond/

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Comments

  1. S. Alexander says:

    I am sorry that my library has taken a step backwards to the “Next Generation.” It is only good if you want to pick a picture of a book and download it immediately. In fact, if you are interested in anything but looking at bigger pictures, it will take you many more steps to get to information about the book.
    Searches are much more complicated and it takes several tries to limit a search to books available. When the filter finally works on the second or third try, you will be taken back to the default view of covers even if you had switched to list view so that you could actually READ about the book. If you are looking for more than one book, you will be forced to check out the first one and then go through the entire more cumbersome search process from the beginning. After nearly two years of using the old overdrive, I am very disappointed in the new issue. This is clearly a “dumbed down” version.

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