By Lauren Sable Freiman | Photo by Thomas Skernivitz
The offering is one of the newer solutions created by OverDrive Inc., a full-service digital distributor of eBooks, audiobooks, music, and video. From its world headquarters in Garfield Heights, situated at Interstate 480 and Transportation Boulevard on a hill overlooking the Cuyahoga Valley, OverDrive has become the leading solution for eBooks and audiobooks worldwide.
‘We’re doing business in about 50 countries, including China, Korea, Japan, and European-language markets,” Steve Potash, OverDrive’s president and CEO, says. “We have approximately 240 employees in Northeast Ohio, and we have sales reps, resellers, and agents in about five countries.”
OverDrive currently hosts more than 2 million premium digital titles from more than 5,000 publishers, including Random House, HarperCollins, AudioGO, Harlequin, and Bloomsbury. More than 30,000 libraries, schools, and colleges worldwide utilize OverDrive’s digital distribution services.
In April 2003 the Cleveland Public Library became the first public library in the country to offer popular eBook downloads. By 2004 other major library systems, from Boston to Seattle to San Jose, were enjoying the same success as Cleveland. Since that time, OverDrive has grown to be the largest supplier of eBooks and audiobooks for the nation’s public libraries. According to Potash, more than 95 percent of public libraries provide content powered by OverDrive.
In addition to the thrill of giving readers easy access to reading materials, Potash says he is also excited by the opportunity to represent and support the mission of public libraries.
“It’s always been our pleasure to be representing the unbelievable mission of the public libraries,” Potash says. “It’s exciting that we’re bringing in legions of 30- to 50-year-olds and helping to reconnect them to these institutions when they realize they can access the New York Times bestsellers for free.”
It’s no wonder the craze has caught on and spread quickly and widely. Potash says eBook pricing has created a great value for the consumer by providing instant access to any book, at any time of the day or night, from anywhere. For public libraries, eBooks have added benefits – they’re never late, never lost, never damaged, and there are never any late fees, as the books are automatically reshelved when the lending period ends. The sheer volume of accounts reflects the tremendous value and access that OverDrive has provided with digital distribution.
“A little over a decade later, over 27,000 institutional accounts offer books powered by OverDrive – public libraries, K-12 schools, corporate libraries, university libraries and government libraries,” Potash says. “Anyone who would buy books to provide for their employees, members or students has turned to OverDrive to supplement with a digital book option.”
After years of helping adults find the newest bestseller on the Kindle, iPad or other digital devices, the company has spent the past couple years growing a new market – schools.
“Right now, our fastest-growing area is what is happening in the schools and the classrooms,” Potash says. “Students are coming back to school, and their reading assignments are being provided to them via an electronic product. With the combination of ubiquitous WiFi, and inexpensive tablets, we’re now seeing school districts large and small all over the world providing students with curriculum and assigned reading on the screen. It’s been pretty exciting for us the last few years.”
Despite the fact that OverDrive has become known worldwide for its eBook and audiobook distribution, Potash says that, at its core, OverDrive is still a software and technology company. Since the mid-1980s, OverDrive has helped pioneer many of the advances that have taken book content and made it electronic and accessible to consumers.
“We’re best known for developing a series of web platforms that became the leading network of online libraries for eBooks and audiobooks,” Potash says. “We also have award-winning apps and we power over 25,000 online websites and catalogs where students or readers are browsing or searching for what to read next.”
After decades of success and growth, Potash says the future remains bright for OverDrive and the digital publishing and distribution industries.
“It’s an exciting time in our market and in our space,” Potash says.
For more information: overdrive.com
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