LJNDawson.com, Consulting to the Book Publishing Industry
Book Publishing Industry Consultant

More iPod ick

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat has a great piece today about downloadable audiobooks and libraries.

Libraries in Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino counties are allowing patrons to download audiobooks from their Web sites - for free.

With a library card and a personal computer, books can be downloaded in a matter of minutes and transferred to a portable listening device for easy transport around the house, on the trail or in a car....But as with any new technology, the audiobook service includes technical glitches that may leave many library patrons frustrated.

Macintosh users in particular will be disappointed to learn that they cannot use the new service at all.

This means that iPod owners - who represent a huge share of the MP3 market - won't be able to store books on the popular devices.

The problem is that Overdrive, who is the main supplier of downloadable content to libraries, has a partnership with Microsoft. Apple will not work with Overdrive.

Apple will, however, work with Audible. Audible has an exclusive deal with Apple (which I believe is due to expire shortly).

Audible does not have a significant library business. (HELLO?????)

And it may be that Apple's not interested in going into the library because of course...libraries don't SELL content. They LOAN it. But there are some pretty awesome ways to make a buck in library land with digital content - even if that content appears "free" to the end-user. There are subscription fees. There are FTE charges. Many companies are doing enormously well this way - Thomson, Dialog, EBSCO, CSA, Ovid....These companies are not exactly startups. Not hurting for money AT ALL.

A library model, for Apple and whomever they work with, would be incremental income (significant incremental income) to them - just as it is to traditional publishers. Libraries don't eat into a publisher's business. If someone wants to own a book, they'll own it. If someone wants to own a song, they'll own it. But libraries are a way of allowing users to sample, to play, to enlarge their desires. And ultimately they'll buy more.

It's Monday and I am not skiing. A little crankiness is in order, I think.
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