This controversy is so much more involved and multi-faceted (and I think important to learn about and discuss!) than I appreciated earlier.  As more read ebooks on smartphones, the issue of how far companies are obligated to go to assist law enforcement in bypassing their own privacy and security features will be of interest to many.  Regardless of your take (if you have one), I just wanted to point out the relevant ALA press release and another very well-linked blog post from the Center for the Future of Libraries (also on the ALA website) covering many of the issues and positions.

NPR also has an article with very clear FAQ style explanation and background.



Happy news appeared in my email inbox this morning.

From the OverDrive Digital Library Blog:

OMC For Windows Now Features MP3 Return

“With the latest version of OverDrive Media Console for Windows, library patrons now have the option to early-return MP3 audiobooks.

We recently released a new version of OverDrive Media Console for Windows computers. In addition to the usual navigation and playback features enabling users to download and enjoy OverDrive audiobooks, music, and video on Windows computers,  the updated desktop application—OMC v3.2.2—allows users to return MP3 audiobooks before the end of the specified lending period. The early-return feature is sure to please your library’s audiobook enthusiasts.

For OMC v3.2.3, the system requirements have not changed. Readers can install the free app on computers running Windows XP (or newer); users with OverDrive Media Console already installed will receive notification upon opening the application that an update is available for download.

Find the updated app at

Mobile users have been able to return mp3 audiobooks for a few months, but now the majority of PC users are able to return them also.   Yay!  But before we get too giddy here’s the good and the less good–there’s really no bad here.


  • Windows users and mobile platform users are able to return mp3 audiobooks before their checkout period ends.
  • Mp3 format audiobooks are in high demand with our customers so early returns should reduce wait times for library customers.  🙂


  • Early audiobook returns apply to mp3 format only.
  • WMA format audiobooks which make up the majority of the library collection are NOT ELIGIBLE for early returns. 😦


The reason why WMA format audiobooks cannot be returned early can be summed up in three letters,  DRM (insert Darth Vader music here).  Publishers who sell libraries mp3 audiobooks are to be applauded, it was their willingness to take a risk and strip out DRM from their audiobooks in 2009 that made it possible for iPod users to finally download library audiobook titles.  Libraries have been asking for early returns for audiobooks for years, and for years we’ve been told that this was an issue that publishers weren’t willing to budge on.

Now once again publishers are testing the waters by enabling mp3 format early returns.

SIDE NOTE:  the neighbor’s great dane barked, howled, and whined off and on between 10 pm and 5 am this morning so i’m a bit sleep deprived…

Perhaps its the sleep deprivation, but this morning I’m thinking of these folks within the publishing industry as the rebel forces from Star Wars battling against the Empire and their Death Star powered by DRM.  So this morning I raise my cup of joe in salute to these courageous people and say, “Let’s blow this thing and go home.”








posted by jim


Kindles, DRM and audio books

February 22, 2011

Ugh, DRM makes me so annoyed.

Before your eyes glaze over let’s talk for a  second about a way that library customers  who own a Kindle might use our download service.  A question came up this weekend about the whether the  Kindle can play mp3 audio book files from our download service.

I have heard anecdotally from staff that this is possible, though not having attempted it myself I can’t say whether there are any extra hoops a customer needs to jump through to make it happen.

Some things to know if you get asked about the Kindle and library downloads.

Kindle uses it’s own proprietary DRM to manage downloads.  This DRM is incompatible with the following types of files.

  • EPUB & PDF ebook files and WMA audio book files.

The Kindle is primarily an ebook reader, and since it’s DRM is incompatible with our ebooks, this is the reason that you’ve heard over and over that the Kindle won’t work with our downloads.

When the Kindle2  first came out it had a text to speech feature which made it possible to convert your ebook to an audio book.  It was an automated voice so it was never going to be the listening experience you’d get  from an audio book read by a professional reader, but it was an option.   Not long after that the Author’s Guild objected claiming that Amazon was ripping off authors by creating an audio book without paying royalties for the privilege.

Audio books and the Kindle

5,600 of  the 7,400  downloadable audio books available from the library are WMA files with DRM attached making them incompatible with the Kindle.

The 1,700+ mp3 audio book files may work with the Kindle because they have no DRM software attached.

No DRM = no compatibility problems.

Currently OverDrive lists the Kindle as being incompatible with ebooks, which makes sense for the reasons explained above.   They do NOT list the Kindle as being compatible with mp3 files. Other devices such as the Nook are listed as playing mp3 files but with limited functionality.  This leads me to believe that though it may be possible to play mp3 files on a Kindle there are undoubtedly some bugs that make the experience less than optimal for customers, otherwise the Kindle would be listed as compatible but with a similar qualifier as with the Nook.

SO it may be possible for a customer to listen to these files on their Kindle, but I suspect there may be problems associated with managing the files.  When speaking to customers about Kindles and library downloads be sure to discuss the various formats separately making clear that EPUB & PDF ebooks aren’t going to work because of DRM, and that mp3 files may work, but only because there is no DRM attached to the files.  The library cannot offer technical support for customers attempting to download mp3 files on their Kindle.

posting by jim

dark side of the moon

today i added a number of great new downloadable music titles to the collection.  overdrive has only recently negotiated rights for downloads from EMI, so all of  a sudden we have a huge catalog to select from whereas before the selections were very limited.

katy perry's teenage dream

which is all tremendously exciting, but…don’t step in the caveat–which is that they are all WMA files which means they are not compatible with Apple devices like the iPod.  😦  if this sounds familiar it should because this is similar to the situation that we had originally when we began offering downloadable audiobooks in 2005.


we can only hope that it won’t take as long for the music industry to come around to our point of view so that we can offer all of the collection to customers who prefer Apple.  in the meantime, we’ll take babysteps and enjoy some great new music downloads.


here’s a list of the new additions to the music download collection

Title Author(s)
This Is War 30 Seconds To Mars,
One Cell In the Sea A Fine Frenzy,
Black Gives Way to Blue Alice In Chains,
Greatest Hits Amy Grant,
Anthology Beastie Boys
Check Your Head Beastie Boys
Hello Nasty Beastie Boys
Paul’s Boutique Beastie Boys
Solid Gold Hits Beastie Boys
The Mix-Up Beastie Boys
The Very Best of Billy Idol Billy Idol,
The Best of Bonnie Raitt On Capitol 1989-2003 Bonnie Raitt
Nick of Time Bonnie Raitt
Ambient 1/Music For Airports Brian Eno
Ambient 2/The Plateaux of Mirror Brian Eno
Another Green World Brian Eno
Before and After Science Brian Eno
Here Come the Warm Jets Brian Eno
Music for Airports Brian Eno
Music For Films Brian Eno
Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) Brian Eno
A Rush of Blood to the Head Coldplay
Viva La Vida Or Death and All His Friends Coldplay
X & Y Coldplay
Corinne Bailey Rae Corinne Bailey Rae
Certified Hits Crystal Gayle,
Greatest Hits Culture Club
Rise Up Cypress Hill,
Learn to Live Darius Rucker
At the Movies Dave Koz
Saxophonic Dave Koz
Best of Bowie David Bowie
The Singles Collection David Bowie
Feel That Fire Dierks Bentley
Greatest Hits / Every Mile a Memory 2003–2008 Dierks Bentley,
Essential Divinyls,
Greatest Duran Duran,
Classic Masters Etta James,
Ten Years Gone the Best of Everclear 1994-2004 Everclear
The Elephant In the Room Fat Joe,
Welcome Interstate Managers Fountains Of Wayne, .
Traffic and Weather Fountains Of Wayne, .
In the Wee Small Hours Frank Sinatra,
Classic Sinatra–His Great Performances 1953-1960 Frank Sinatra,
Classic Sinatra II Frank Sinatra,
Full Clip Gang Starr,
Blue Jean Bop Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps,
Greatest Hits George Thorogood And The Destroyers,
Highwayman Glen Campbell,
Head First Goldfrapp
D-Sides Gorillaz
Plastic Beach Gorillaz
Fore! Huey Lewis & The News,
Sports Huey Lewis & The News,
AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted (Explicit) Ice Cube
The Essentials Ice Cube
A Million In Prizes Iggy Pop,
Best of the J. Geils Band J. Geils Band
Essential Jethro Tull
MU–The Best of Jethro Tull Jethro Tull
Band of Gypsys (Live) Jimi Hendrix
Classic Hits Joe Cocker,
Just As I Am Johnny Cash,
Mind Body & Soul–Special Edition Joss Stone,
Introducing Joss Stone Joss Stone,
Judy At Carnegie Hall Judy Garland,
One of the Boys Katy Perry
Teenage Dream Katy Perry
Love, Pain & the whole crazy thing Keith Urban
Golden Road Keith Urban
Defying Gravity Keith Urban
Be Here Keith Urban,
Number Ones Kenny Rogers,
Eye to the Telescope KT Tunstall
Fever Kylie Minogue
Lady Antebellum Lady Antebellum
Need You Now Lady Antebellum
Greatest Hits Lenny Kravitz,
Alright, Still Lily Allen
It’s Not Me, It’s You Lily Allen
Heart Like a Wheel Linda Ronstadt,
The Reason Why Little Big Town,
Finest Liza Minnelli
Collected Massive Attack
Best of Master P Master p,
Ghetto D 10th Anniversary Master p,
Greatest Hits MC Hammer,
Greatest Hits Megadeth,
20 Greatest Hits Merle Haggard,
Cheatin’ Merle Haggard,
Hurtin’ Merle Haggard,
Prison Merle Haggard,
The Complete Birth of the Cool Miles Davis,
Music Is My Savior Mims
Straight Outta Compton N.W..A
The Natalie Cole Collection Natalie Cole,
Certified Hits Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Not Too Late Norah Jones,
The Fall Norah Jones,
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat Original Broadway Cast, (C) 1982
Greatest Hits Pat Benatar,
Greatest Hits–Straight Up! Paula Abdul,
The Best of Peggy Lee Peggy Lee,
Atom Heart Mother Pink Floyd
Ummagumma Pink Floyd
Dark Side of the Moon Pink Floyd
The Piper At the Gates of Dawn Pink Floyd
A Saucerful of Secrets Pink Floyd
Operation Queensryche,
Promised Land Queensryche,
The Best of Queensryche Queensryche,
What Hits? Red Hot Chili Peppers
Very Best Of Ringo Starr,
Robin Trower–Collection Robin Trower,
The List Rosanne Cash,
The Best of Roxy Music Roxy Music
Symphony Sarah Brightman,
I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got (Special Edition) Sinead O’Connor
Rotten Apples, the Smashing Pumpkins Greatest Hits Smashing Pumpkins,
The Best of Snoop Dogg Snoop Dogg,
Malice ‘N Wonderland (Explicit) Snoop Dogg,
More Malice Snoop Dogg,
Greatest Hits Spice Girls
Fly Like an Eagle–30th Anniversary Steve Miller Band
Greatest Hits Steve Miller Band
Book of Dreams Steve Miller Band
20 Greatest Hits Suzy Bogguss
Best of the Band The Band,
Endless Summer The Beach Boys,
The Greatest Hits Volume 1 The Beach Boys,
The Greatest Hits Volume 2 The Beach Boys,
Come With Us The Chemical Brothers
Further The Chemical Brothers
Exit Planet Dust The Chemical Brothers
Dig Your Own Hole The Chemical Brothers
The Crane Wife The Decemberists
Hazards of Love The Decemberists, (C) 2009 Capitol Records, LLC
Get the Knack The Knack,
Sunshine On Leith The Proclaimers
Walk Don’t Run–The Best of the Ventures The Ventures,
Live At the Five Spot / Discovery! Thelonious Monk,
All the Best–The Hits Tina Turner
Tonight Deluxe Edition TobyMac,
American Man, Greatest Hits Volume II Trace Adkins,
More… Trace Adkins,
Comin’ On Strong Trace Adkins,
Greatest Hits Collection, Volume 1 Trace Adkins,
Category F5 (Explicit) Twista,
Greatest Hits UB40,
At the Movies–Soundtrack Hits Van Morrison
The Best of Van Morrison Volume 3 Van Morrison
Now That’s What I Call Music! Volume 19 / 20 Chart–Topping Hits! Various Artists
Now That’s What I Call Music Volume 24 Various Artists
Now That’s What I Call Music Volume 26 Various Artists
Now That’s What I Call Party Hits Various Artists
Now That’s What I Call Classic Rock Various Artists
Now That’s What I Call Music Volume 28 Various Artists
Now That’s What I Call Country Volume 3 Various Artists
NOW That’s What I Call Faith Various Artists
NOW That’s What I Call Love Various Artists
NOW That’s What I Call Music! Volume 33 Various Artists
Now That’s What I Call Music! Volume 34 Various Artists
Now That’s What I Call the U.S.A. (The Patriotic Country Collection) Various Artists
American Classic Willie Nelson,
Certified Hits Willie Nelson, (C) 2001 Capitol Records Nashville
The Best of Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers (1988–1993) Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers,

brian eno's classic

posting by jim

slower than molasses

January 28, 2011

this week is the Digital Book World Conference & Expo 2011.  on Wednesday, a panel of publishers convened to present “A CEO’s View of the Future.”  the panel consisted of Brian Napack, President of Macmillan, Jane Friedman, CEO of Open Road Integrated Media, David Steinberger, CEO of Perseus, Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson, and David Nussbam, CEO of F+W Media.

during the question and answer period of the session, Sarah Wendell, of the oft quoted Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, asked a very pertinent question (and kudos for her advocacy!):

Macmillan books are not available for digital lending in libraries. After making pronouncements about a publishers job being to unite the creators with their audience, and the importance of building a community, how can either of those things happen without library lending? I want to borrow Macmillan digital books in libraries, and I can’t – why not?

LJ summarized Napack’s answer:

Napack responded that Macmillan had “spent a long time looking for a business model” for putting Macmillan ebooks in libraries, but did not confirm when—or if—it would happen.

so while Macmillan is busy counting its money from library print sales, they’re unwilling to entertain the notion of making money off of library customers through ebook lending because of DRM and fear?!  how long is it going to take for publishers to recognize that people who borrow from the library don’t stop buying books and do much in the way of word of mouth in recommending books to others – we’ve all seen it.  Sarah passionately agrees on this point:

I find the idea of struggling with the question of a library business model absolutely barmy, because it demonstrates a lack of understanding about how libraries serve as a gateway to readers, to potential word-of-mouth sales, and to more book purchases by individuals who must own copies of books they loved. NOT having books available in the libraries for digital lending is a loss and a bad business model. Yet I don’t see Macmillan changing their position on this one.

and Jane of Dear Author put it quite succinctly in a retort to Napack:

Apparently publishers believe that the library patron is not a book buyer.  I am not sure where publishers get this idea as it is well known that publishers don’t view readers as their customers and thus have very little data on consumer spending habits.

Napack did little to change the impression that publishing is a business based on outdated models that responds too slowly to change.  i also can’t help but wonder if any librarians were at the Digital Book World Conference.

posting by marin who bids adieu to the readers of this blog – thanks for humoring my ramblings and engaging in a conversation, both online and in-person.

who doesn’t love a chart?

January 25, 2011

Bookbee put together a handy chart of ereaders, “Getting started with ebooks:  a beginner’s guide.”

as indicated in the note, it many not be an exhaustive guide, but it’s certainly an  additional tool when talking to customers about their ereaders.

(via Shelf Awareness)

posting by marin

Kindle lending library

January 19, 2011

at the end of last year, Amazon announced Kindle lending which is similar to nook lending:

Eligible Kindle books can be loaned once for a period of 14 days. The borrower does not need to own a Kindle — Kindle books can also be read using our free Kindle reading applications for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android devices. Not all books are lendable — it is up to the publisher or rights holder to determine which titles are eligible for lending. The lender will not be able to read the book during the loan period.

of course, it didn’t take long for strangers to create their own facebook lending library for Kindle copies (via GalleyCat) with an active good reads counterpart (via Dear Author) and a web site dedicated to Kindle Lending (via lifehacker).  but as Jane on Dear Author points out, Kindle lending is quite restrictive (link to handy chart comparing Kindle and nook lending, as well as a list of participating publishers); lending is determined by the publishers or rights holder (see above verbage from Amazon) who aren’t likely to jump on this band wagon.

in fact, it should come as no surprise that in the last few weeks, it appears that the number of lendable titles on the nook is decreasing.  again, Jane from Dear Author:

Apparently publishers really don’t like digital lending even though they want to keep charging us print prices without giving digital readers corresponding print rights for the digital books. In other words, charge the consumer the same price but don’t allow her to trade, resell, or loan the book out.

oh publishers, when will you learn?!  when did lending become a bad word? haven’t publishers made big money from library budgets for years?

at least from a device perspective, Barnes & Noble and the nook are willing to play with libraries and allow lending via that route, small victories.

posting by marin