If you’re up-to-date on the buzz in the publishing and book-selling world, you know that everyone is talking about discoverability—especially online, where browsing can be difficult. After all, if a reader can’t find a book, how will they buy it or borrow it? The proliferation of self-published books makes this problem even more challenging, with over 235,000 self-published titles produced annually (and this doesn’t even count the Amazon Kindle Direct self-published titles or those that don’t have an ISBN) in addition to the 350,000 or so traditionally published titles.
Add to this gigantic mountain of new books the fact that libraries have an additional problem—a Pew Research survey found last year that more than half of library card holders don’t even know that their library has digital books available. Obviously, library card holders are likely to be more interested in reading than the general public, so they make a prime target for introduction to the digital collection.
We’ve all used press releases to promote the fact that we have eBooks. But how can we capture the most likely new users of our digital collections—those already in our library buildings? At the ALA Conference this month, OverDrive will introduce the new OverDrive Media Station (OMS)—the best way to demonstrate to your library patron—inside your own buildings—that you have a digital collection ready and waiting for them. OMS is a big screen standalone station which can display your eBooks and MP3 audiobooks for browsers. Everything is self-contained and Web based.
The station will be branded with your own library information, and better yet, it’s a touchscreen. Readers can scroll and browse the collection with the point of a finger, or search if they prefer. They can sample both eBooks and audiobooks. Those who find a title they would like to check out can enter either their phone number for an instant text message with a link to the title, or their email address for an email message with the link, or use a QR code to get the title’s information. Once they receive the link, they only need to click it to check out the title from your library as usual—instantly on their phone if they wish—or later from home.
OMS was built upon the premise that the user may never have heard of library eBooks, that the experience should be intuitive because you may have only one chance to interest the user and readers may have limited time if someone else is waiting. The goals are to introduce and convert new users to your digital collection and to allow patrons to preview a little of what the digital experience is like.
Best of all, having an attractive station in your library that gets your users’ attention means that it will provide a natural opening for staff to interact and explain your services more fully. OMS is not a mere clone of the full OverDrive experience. It’s meant as an easy-to-use introduction to the experience for those who have never seen it before and an interactive tour of your collection for those who have.
The service has been tested with great success in the Cuyahoga County Public Library system in Ohio and at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore. The latest version will be installed in the San Antonio Public Library and several other pilot library systems very soon.
Going to the ALA Conference? Don’t miss the opportunity for a demo. Stop by to see us (and OMS) at Booth #953. You can also see the press release here.
Cindy Orr is a Digital Collection Advisor with OverDrive