Public libraries in NZ ready to lend ebooks

In the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen New Zealand public libraries announcing plans for the imminent launch of ebook lending services.

What’s great to see is that there will be two initiatives, each with a different approach.  Between them, they will let libraries, their patrons, and the publisher and author rights holders try out different models and approaches to ebook borrowing.

The two initiatives are:

1. About 40 library regions have signed up with OverDrive, the US service provider that currently leads the market in public library lending. Their service is scheduled to roll out in September.  In addition to these regional consortia, OverDrive has deals with the major metropolitan libraries in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

2. A local initiative developed by library and educational book supplier Wheelers launches a trial next month of its homegrown ebook lending service with Tauranga and Hamilton library districts.

One of the key differences between the two services will be whether patrons pay to borrow some of the titles or borrow all titles for free. Currently, OverDrive doesn’t support the option of charging rentals for some titles while the Wheelers’ service does.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m a big fan of offering a choice of lending models with both free and paid access.  This has the potential to get the widest range of ebooks available to libraries’ patrons and to help libraries to provide a high quality ebook service without the money having to come from other needed services. And it gives publishers and authors more options to accommodate ebook lending in the wider ebook eco-system.

Wheelers service will offer this from the start and its libraries are expecting to have an advantage over the OverDrive service by offering popular new titles that are usually withheld by publishers from the free OverDrive service or offered under terms that many libraries see as unacceptable. (I’m not so sure, however, about the other expected benefit to libraries from the Wheelers model, namely that they should own the ebook files in perpetuity rather than licensing them: I think there will be resistance from many publishers and authors to this proposed term).

Read this informative post from Sally Pewhairangi’s Finding Heroes blog in which she interviews Paul Nielsen from Hauraki District about the OverDrive service, and the innovative Jill Best from Tauranga about the forthcoming Wheelers system.






Comments (4)

  1. Sally

    Hi Martin,
    At last New Zealanders will have a wider range of ebooks to choose from via their local library. And with local provider, Wheelers onboard, hopefully there will be more New Zealand content available. Thanks also for the mention.

  2. Erica van Sint Annaland

    hi, will readers be able to use their Kindle to borrow e books from the library?
    do you know if this is still set to go ahead in September?
    kind regards,

  3. Sally

    Hi Erica,

    Many NZ libraries will begin lending ebooks from September through Wheelers and OverDrive.

    OverDrive is coincidentally negotiating with Amazon and Kindle to enable libraries who deal with OverDrive to lend Kindle ebooks.

    It has not been announced when this will happen, but the rumour is that it will also be in September.

    At this stage it is unclear when NZ library users will be able to use their Kindle to borrow ebooks but given the rate of change in this market, I would expect it to be before the year.

  4. Hardy

    Note there are already at least 3 New Zealand Public Libraries lending Overdrive eBooks and AudioBooks. Auckland,Christchurch and Wellington.

    Also note that although Amazon and Kindle have struck a deal in the US it may be quite some time before it hits NZ – so if you want to borrow books from a local library buy a device that supports Adobe DRM/Digital editions.

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