New library e-catalogs offer expanded selection

Jan 25, 2012 By HILLEL ITALIE , AP National Writer

(AP) -- Library users searching for e-books will soon get to look through a much bigger catalog and help decide what their local branch might carry.

OverDrive Inc., a major e-distributor for libraries, announced Wednesday the launch of a vastly expanded list for patrons, featuring not just available for lending, but hundreds of thousands of those which include a collected of Edgar Allan Poe stories edited by Michael Connelly to foreign-language titles. Viewers can look at excerpts, purchase books from a retailer or request that their library add an e-book that wasn't being offered.

"We're allowing libraries to be better connected with their communities," OverDrive CEO Steve Potash said during a recent interview. "Right now, we have librarians who are trying to add books to the e-catalog but don't always know what to add. Now, by exposing a publisher's entire list, it becomes like crowdsourcing, where patrons can offer their suggestions."

Potash said he expects the program to begin within a couple of weeks, in a handful of library systems, including New York City, Boston and Cuyahoga County in Ohio.

In the Boston library system, Rick Warren's million-selling "The Purpose Driven Life" is currently unavailable as an e-book, but will appear in the new catalog. A patron might also ask about "In the Shadow of the Master," a collection of Poe stories and essays about him that Connelly edited; or Heather Graham's historical romance "Runaway."

"If we had an unlimited budget we'd just buy everything ahead of time, so we have to purchase more wisely," said Michael Colford, director of library services for the Boston Public Library. "There are books which we obviously need, like current best-sellers, but there are a lot more books which aren't surefire hits. And we would have a much better idea of what to get if our customers were able to tell us."

The catalog will include offerings from hundreds of publishers, from Random House Inc. and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to Lonely Planet and the children's publisher Nickelodeon. OverDrive also will feature thousands of foreign-language titles, in Russian, Spanish, Swedish and dozens of other languages

Potash noted that while Random House has digitized over 18,000 books, even larger public libraries offer a fraction of those titles.

"Now every new title, midlist title and early works will be included in a reader's search," Potash said.

The library e-market, like the commercial market, has grown rapidly and Potash said that in the past year OverDrive added dozens of publishers, including Lonely Planet and the religious publisher Thomas Nelson. He sees the new catalog as a "reward" for those "who are strong supporters of lending" and "very enlightened" about exposing their authors to libraries.

HarperCollins, which has restricted lending of its e-books, is participating, but not Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and other publishers who don't offer downloads to libraries, citing concerns about lost sales. Potash said he did not intend any criticism, but added that he was a "little bit discouraged that publishers who have built some of their biggest successes around book clubs and word of mouth were underappreciating the value" of the library market.

Macmillan CEO John Sargent said that the publisher "continued to talk to the library community. We continue to be hopeful that our ongoing dialogue will solve the thorny problems this market presents."

Explore further: Study: Social media users shy away from opinions

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Penguin suspends library e-books, citing security

Nov 22, 2011

One of the country's largest publishers, Penguin Group (USA), has suspended making e-editions of new books available to libraries and won't allow libraries to loan any e-books for Amazon.com's Kindle.

Penguin reverses course for now on Kindle lending

Nov 23, 2011

One of the country's largest publishers, Penguin Group (USA), is temporarily restoring libraries' ability to loan their e-books for Amazon.com's Kindle - but only through the end of the year.

Recommended for you

WEF unveils 'crowdsourcing' push on how to run the Web

9 hours ago

The World Economic Forum unveiled a project on Thursday aimed at connecting governments, businesses, academia, technicians and civil society worldwide to brainstorm the best ways to govern the Internet.

Study: Social media users shy away from opinions

Aug 26, 2014

People on Facebook and Twitter say they are less likely to share their opinions on hot-button issues, even when they are offline, according to a surprising new survey by the Pew Research Center.

US warns shops to watch for customer data hacking

Aug 23, 2014

The US Department of Homeland Security on Friday warned businesses to watch for hackers targeting customer data with malicious computer code like that used against retail giant Target.

Fitbit to Schumer: We don't sell personal data

Aug 22, 2014

The maker of a popular line of wearable fitness-tracking devices says it has never sold personal data to advertisers, contrary to concerns raised by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.

Should you be worried about paid editors on Wikipedia?

Aug 22, 2014

Whether you trust it or ignore it, Wikipedia is one of the most popular websites in the world and accessed by millions of people every day. So would you trust it any more (or even less) if you knew people ...

User comments : 0