Monday, March 12, 2012

Overthrow Overdrive.

For some reason I have always hated Overdrive.  Probably due to its general clunkiness, awful layout and search algorithm.  Seriously, a blindfolded monkey could throw a dart with more accuracy than a search for anything on Overdrive.  Well, now we know why they have never bothered to update the searching or the downloading process: Ebook Publishers want Library borrowing to be difficult.

One thing libraries and librarians just don't seem to understand or refuse to grasp is the idea that Overdrive is  a FOR PROFIT company.  They will do whatever helps their bottom line, not what helps librarians or patrons.  It is as simple as that.  So enough with the whining, "Why doesn't Overdrive look out for my poor little library? /  Why don't they have our back?"  They never did and never will.  What makes the whole situation worse is that they have a freaking strangle hold on the e-book distribution.  When has a monopoly ever been a good thing?

During my MLIS journey, one was bound to hear, "consortium this, consortium that."  So it is quite obvious that libraries already know how beneficial it is to "run in packs."  How come libraries aren't using their numbers to stop getting screwed over with this ebook business?  Let's cut out the middle-man because let's face it, publishers only care about money as well which is why we're in this mess.  On a related note, you would think the publishing industry would learn a lesson or two from their music and movie industry counterparts when it comes to piracy.  How can ebooks be more expensive or equivalent to producing physical books?  With this ridiculous pricing, you can expect more to seek out "cheaper methods."  One would hope that the one organization that ties all libraries together would do something about it, but apparently the only thing ALA can do is talk publishers away.  Yeah, 3M wants to join the ebook distribution party but do you really think that they will be any better than Overdrive? 

Why doesn't ALA form a committee (yes, another) for ebooks and publisher relations, no wait, hear me out, this committee will actually do something.  ALA has connections to universities.  Universities have the knowledge and resources to create a platform for e-material distribution.  ALA also has connections to publishers.  Do you see how this can play out?  The way I see it, if the MIT Media Lab created a basketball hoop that measures force for the recent NBA Slam Dunk Contest, how hard could it be to find a program that could knock out some 1's and 0's to make this happen?  It is a lot better than bending over and over for Overdrive and pirate-paranoid publishers.


  1. I have never used Overdrive, nor does my (university) library do e books (yet), BUT I hate Overdrive too! Just from everything I've ever read about it! And I've often wondered the same thing--why isn't someone working on a viable alternative? I'm with you. MIT basketball hoop robots: GET ON IT.

    1. Wait. I may have spoken too soon. http://www.thedigitalshift.com/2012/03/ebooks/large-california-consortium-joins-movement-toward-library-ebook-ownership/

  2. For those in the academic realm that don't deal with Overdrive, I think it's user friendliness and user experience can be comparable to Blackboard, another wretched monopoly that can get away with half-ass-ness.

    Nice follow up with that article! It sounds like the revolution is beginning.