The week before last found me in Philly where I was attending PLA 2012, a library conference. While I was there I made time to attend a session at each of OverDrive's closest competitors, from the destined to be a niche Freading, the quietly expanding Ingram MyiLibrary, to the newcomers Axis360 and 3M Cloud Library.
All the platforms were interesting for one reason or another, but they all had at least one detail in common. I was told by reps for all 4 companies that they were in talks with Amazon to add support for the Kindle. Given the technical difficulties in adding one library ebook vendor (much less 4) I would think that 3 of the 4 companies are probably going to be out of luck for the near future.
But which is going to be the lucky one, do you think?
It's been 6 months since OverDrive added Kindle support, and there's been nary a peep from Amazon (or anyone else) on when OverDrive's competitors will be added. TBH, that should not be a surprise; 3 of the 4 competitors hardly even existed 6 months ago, and even now they only have a couple hundred libraries between them.
But one OverDrive competitor has been around for 6 years or more and they already have thousands of library partners as well as a selection of over 300,000 titles. I'm talking about Ingram, of course, and their MyiLibrary service.
All this time that OverDrive has been getting the press (including the bad press), Ingram has been quietly expanding in the academic market. They're in a position to offer Amazon the best return for the bother of integrating another library ebook platform into the Kindle Store.
Freading will likely stay a secondary service (even the Freading rep thinks that) and 3M Cloud Library & Axis360 are both much smaller than MyiLibrary. Plus (and this is just me being slightly crazy) I have the feeling that Amazon might buy Freading's parent company, Library Ideas. It's selling digital content in ways that Amazon isn't and in in markets that Amazon hasn't entered yet. That could be very appealing to Amazon.
Now, I'm still not convinced Amazon is going to partner with anyone, but Ingram would be my first choice. What do you think?