From The New Publishing Standard:
I’ve long been a lone voice on the indie circuit advocating authors take digital libraries seriously.
Admittedly back in 2011 it wasn’t so easy to get into OverDrive, but doing what isn’t easy is what separates the career author from the rest.
As I said four years ago back in January 2014,
Too many indie authors have their heads in the sand about the way things are developing out there. Wake up and smell the coffee! Subscription ebook reading and library ebook reading are the new black.
Why pay Amazon, or B&N, or Kobo, or Sony for every single ebook you read when you can pay a token fee at the library or a monthly subscription and read as much as you like, with exactly the same ease and convenience as from an online retailer?
This a full year and a half before Amazon launched Kindle Unlimited, and in response to news that OverDrive’s digital lending had crossed the 100 million downloads per year threshold in 2013.
Just how significant that was only becomes clear when we consider that the 102 million downloads in 2013 was equal to the OverDrive digital downloads of the entire previous ten years.
The breakdown then (for 2013) was 79 million ebook checkouts and 22.9 million digital audiobook checkouts.
. . . .
Amazon counts a KU download as a sale when compiling the charts, regardless of whether these downloads are later read and therefore paid out on.
That in itself raises questions about the “author earnings” aspect of the report, as well as the true number of unit sales, because the paid charts are warped by downloads of books that are never paid for.
But the real issue here is those library downloads, which from OverDrive alone amounted to just shy of 200 million in 2016, the period covered by the last Author Earnings Report.
. . . .
Yet the Author Earnings Report completely ignores them. There is not a single mention of OverDrive or digital library downloads in the last Author Earnings Report, covering the year 2016. which attributed 440 million ebook sales to Amazon and just 44 million to Apple.
. . . .
Now let’s take a closer look at the 2017 OverDrive figures, where there are more surprises in store.
Because alongside that 225 million actual downloads of ebooks and audiobooks in 2017, another 83 million possible downloads were on hold because the titles were already out on loan and readers were patiently waiting for them to be returned.
As to the downloads that did happen, 59 libraries delivered a million downloads each, 14 libraries saw 2 million downloads, 7 libraries saw three million downloads each.
Two libraries crossed the magical four million mark, with the Toronto Public Library on the way to 5 million downloads, reaching 4.6 million.
But the big surprise came not from North America, but from Singapore.
. . . .
[I]n October 2017 OverDrive launched the world’s first digital business library in, you guessed it, Singapore.
With no Kindle store to select from, Singaporeans downloaded 1.5 million digital downloads from OverDrive in 2017.
Link to the rest at The New Publishing Standard
PG suspects that OverDrive may not be willing to give Author Earnings access to borrowing data.
Additionally, the last time PG checked, Overdrive was not accessible by indie authors except through Draft2Digital, Smashwords, etc. Overdrive is, of course, definitely not available to authors who make the decision to exclusively publish on Amazon.
With no disrespect to Smashwords, etc., Amazon makes it financially attractive for indies to publish there on an exclusive basis. More than one indie author makes very good money from KU/KOLL borrows. It would be nice if Overdrive borrows paid indies as well.
Perhaps it does, but PG hasn’t heard about it. We’re talking net monthly or annual income, not per-page royalty rates which may not translate into serious dollars. The Amazon book store is superbly designed to drive book (and especially ebook) sales. Overdrive not so much.
Although PG hasn’t researched Overdrive stats, he suspects the majority of the books Overdrive lends are still from traditional publishing. From the viewpoint of a library administrator, it’s far easier to pay Overdrive rather than deal with a gaggle of indie authors.
But he could be wrong.
OTOH, OverDrive’s owner, Rakuten, appears to be a smart and aggressive company. Should it decide to do so, Rakuten might be in a position to provide some serious funding for Kobo (now owned by Rakuten) to compete much more aggressively with Amazon in ebook sales.