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OverDrive raises doubts about the Kindle Epub rumor

I stopped by the Overdrive booth yesterday in order to pin down a definitive statement on Kindle library ebooks. I ended up with a rather disappointing conclusion.

About a month ago Amazon announced that the Kindle would gain support for library ebooks some time this fall. OverDrive were announced as a partner for the deal, with the obvious implication being that OverDrive would do the actual lending.

OverDrive put out their own press release that day, and there was one rather interesting but vague detail about library’s existing ebooks. It was implied that somehow or other they will be available on the Kindle. I can now confirm that.

I’m still not sure how they plan to work the technical details, but my source was quite clear. If a library owns an ebook in Mobi, Epub, or PDF, that eBook will be lendable for the Kindle. My guess is that Amazon will accept the library ebook from OverDrive and do their conversion magic on it. The ebook will come out as a Kindle compatible file with DRM and the usual restrictions.

Assuming the above info is correct, then I have to wonder if this might be the source of the Kindle Epub rumor.

The Kindle will be able to use Epub library books. Take that sentence and after it’s been passed around a few times I think it might sound like “the Kindle will read Epub”.


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Anne-Marie Concepcion May 26, 2011 um 6:45 am

Thank you, Nate.

I’ve heard from other publishers' production staff who checked the story with their Amazon reps and came away similarly disappointed.

fjtorres May 26, 2011 um 7:12 am

People believe what they want to believe.
Pointing out that Amazon’s long-stated position on epub is that they support it as feedstock for conversion to kindle format isn’t going to stop the fantasizing.

Mike Cane May 26, 2011 um 7:31 am

Oh FFS. This makes me so pissed off, I’m doing my own post.

karen wester newton May 26, 2011 um 8:14 am

I think it will work like Kindle-to-Kindle lending, in which Amazon simply sends a copy of the "borrowed" book to the borrower’s Kindle and then deletes it later. There will not be an ePub copy. It will cost Amazon a lot less to develop this than supporting ePub.

Timothy Wilhoit May 26, 2011 um 9:08 am

It’s the license on the book that will be used, not the ePub copy. Since library lending will be available for even the oldest Kindles, I can’t see how it could work any other way. If Amazon were going to jump on the ePub bandwagon, I think they would have done that a long time ago.

Nate Hoffelder May 26, 2011 um 9:48 am

You raise a good point. That could be one of the detaisl that were glossed over, and it would help explain how this would work.

Andrys May 26, 2011 um 3:47 pm

I tried very hard to explain some of this but there is so much hope put in direct support of epub of the kind that Amazon wouldn’t do (enabling reading of other company’s DRM’d epub) that people don’t want to hear/read it.

And I felt an Overdrive manager was pretty clear about how it would work.

Titles are bought by libraries and then the user chooses the format that would be appropriate for the destination device. They never said Amazon would just use the ePub.

Nate Hoffelder May 26, 2011 um 5:38 pm

Yes, you have written that.

TBH, I wasn’t trying to settle the Kindle Epub rumor; I just wanted that one detail on library lending clarified. it was only after he explained it to me that I realized how his statements might be garbled as they were passed from one person to the next.

Riya June 11, 2011 um 3:35 pm

Thank you for this post. The press release confused me, so this information is helpful. Keep up the great work with your site.

Overdrive just upset the ebook library cart | The Digital Reader June 15, 2011 um 11:42 am

[…] confirmed some time back that Kindle owners would be able to check out any ebook in a library’s collection, no matter […]

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