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Will 3M give OverDrive some competition?

The proverbial "greener grass" I know that OverDrive has some librarians at the end of their rope. The HarperCollins deal. The inability to download ebooks on public-access computers. The "Advantage" plan limitations. The DRM. If there were an "other side," the grass might be looking greener... but there hasn't been much of an "other side" to go to.*

Enter 3M's Cloud Library ebook lending service, launching at the ALA Annual Conference this summer. 3M's press release states that it will be "a comprehensive subscription for both digital content and in-library hardware, along with apps for borrowing and reading." Random House and IPG are named as publishers that are already on board, and the press release also specifies "PCs, Macs, iPads, Nooks, Androids and 3M eReaders" as compatible devices. (3M eReaders?!)

LibraryJournal adds that the service will "follow the one book/one user model, and use the EPUB format as well as Adobe digital rights management (DRM), as OverDrive's ebooks do." Content will be browsable and downloadable online, via 3M apps, or in the library via the 3M Discovery Terminal.

It's still too soon to tell if the proverbial grass will be greener with 3M's Cloud Library. Anyone planning to attend ALA in New Orleans, please scope it out and report back!

* Here's a hastily-compiled roundup of other vendors offering downloadable/ebook content for the library market. To extend/belabor the grass-is-always-greener metaphor, don't think "expansive fields of grass" — think "modest container gardens."

  • Audible.com (audiobooks)
  • DawsonEra (ebooks; academic titles)
  • EBL Ebook Library (ebooks; academic titles)
  • eBooks on EBSCOhost [formerly NetLibrary] (ebooks)
  • ebrary (ebooks)
  • Follett (ebooks; K-12 curriculum titles)
  • MyiLibrary (ebooks; academic titles)
  • Recorded Books (audiobooks)
  • Safari (ebooks; technology titles)


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I don't know why everybody has to have a different ebook format. Why not just use good old fashioned PDF ebooks so PCs, Macs, iPads, Androids and eReaders can read them? Why the Kindle, MOBI, Nook, etc? Why make it so darn complicated?

A frequently-cited downside of PDF is that most PDF content is not reflowable and can be difficult to read on small screens. It's frustrating that there isn't a format that is both user-friendly and universally-compatible (and let's not even get started on DRM compatibility)!

.pdfs are not reader friendly on an ereader.

I personally like .epubs which are ereader friendly and work great on the kobo, nook, sony reader, and other ereader devices except the kindle. The biggest player here that needs to be more friendly is amazon. If they allowed their kindles to read epubs, then it would address a lot of compatibility issues.

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