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Kobo Now Beta-Testing Distribution to OverDrive

When it comes to distributing indie press titles to public libraries, OverDrive is pretty much it for ebooks. OD is the market, and there are only a few ways to get ebooks into OverDrive – Streetlib, ebookPartnership, etc.

But soon authors and small presses might be able to distribute ebooks through Kobo Writing Life, and sell them in OverDrive. Mark Williams has tipped me to a statement Kobo’s Mark Leslie Lefebvre made on Facebook last week:

Phase One Beta of the Kobo Writing Life to OverDrive testing was done in Q4 of 2016. It was minor (with virtually no “marketing” testing other than a small push for a couple of titles to measure the effect), but the results of having just over 200 titles pushed through was significant, with sales to libraries in CA, US, AU, NZ and MY so far.


Phase Two Beta is now in place – we’re now testing the author-controlled OPT-IN, manually setting unique USD LIBRARY PRICES — because indie authors can certainly offer incredible value to libraries that’s nowhere near the ridiculous over-charging that they’re seeing from trad pub, and yet indie authors can still set their library price a bit higher than their retail. IE, even if an indie author adds a few dollars to their library price, the library can likely still buy 3 or more indie titles for the price of one trad pub’d books – meaning they can better serve their readers.

Kobo is still working on the automation, so the beta testing is being handled entirely manually. Lefebvre writes that "none of those in beta can see live sales data – it’s currently manual reports emailed to authors".

It’s a work in progress, obviously, and Kobo is also working on helping libraries find the more popular titles in the catalog. There’s also going to be a filter so libraries can find local authors and add them to their catalog.

More that four dozen libraries set new records for the number of digital loans last year.

Kobo’s parent company, Rakuten, bought OverDrive in March 2015.


image by Gerald Pereira

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Nirmala January 19, 2017 um 10:10 am

Smashwords also distributes to Overdrive and is used by a large number of self-publishers.

MKS January 23, 2017 um 7:35 pm

I belong to two library systems that use Overdrive. One allows me to search a book catalog and suggest books for my library system to purchase, the other does not. I think the catalog is restricted to books with ISBN numbers, or a similar restriction. My library has purchased books I have suggested, so it would be great for me as a library patron to be able to suggest indie published books (and I hope it would ultimately be goid for indie authors). Overdrive also recently added a button for me to buy a book if found it in my library collection, I assume so I can order best-sellers I don’t want to put on hold. The Buy It Now button redirects me to the Amazon, iTunes, and Kobo "retail partners" web sites. Again, this is only implemented on one of the two library systems. By directing me to the web sites it allows me to purchase ebooks on my iPhone without Apple’s interference (in contrast to using the Amazon dedicated shopping app itself.)

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