My local library uses OverDrive, so this evening I went ahead and tried to check out a couple ebooks for my Kindle (well, Kindle app). The steps required were pretty simple: library website to OverDrive catalog to title to checkout page. After I checked it out, I got dropped into Amazon’s website, where I finished by specifying which Kindle app to send the book to.
One thing that’s not on that page is a link back to the library. It would be nice for the library to be acknowledged, although of course there could be privacy implications if OverDrive is sending Amazon enough information that they could construct such a link.
But suppose I were to purchase one of Amazon’s recommendations. Who benefits? Amazon, obviously. Who else? Is anybody collecting referral fees? And if somebody is collecting referral fees, can the library who paid OverDrive to lend the book that inspired the recommendations in the first place get a piece of the action? What about libraries who have signed themselves up as Amazon affiliates?
There’s a lot to discuss about the announcement, including concerns about patron privacy, Amazon’s DRM policies, and whether and how this will benefit libraries in the long run (in the short run, it at least means that librarians don’t have to answer the question of why they can’t lend books to patrons’ Kindles). But one thing seems pretty clear to me: libraries are about to see their OverDrive hold queues lengthen significantly, which will mean pressure to send more money to OverDrive to meet patron demand. But that doesn’t mean that the libraries can just stop buying physical books, so how is a library to deal with a potentially significant shift in their acquisitions budget?
Bringing this full circle back to the title of this post: can libraries get a piece of the action? Should they?