Downloadable Books, Audio and Video: One Experience

Users of downloadable eBooks and audio books want many of the same titles as print readers, according to Michelle Jeske of the Denver Public Library. In her presentation Downloadable Books, Audio, and Video: One Experience, she reported that DPL is a large customer of downloadable materials and it foresees an increasing demand for them. Being one of the first customers of eBooks from netLibrary, starting in 2000, DPL has found that service both useful and frustrating. At this point DPL owns most of the netLibrary titles, but it will not be adding any more; the difficult user authentication process and the inability to customize the service to DPL’s needs has led the library to decide that there is little future in the contract. DPL has signed on with Overdrive, which has more bestselling materials and is more user friendly; users can enter their library card numbers and do NOT have to create accounts to access eBooks; users can also download Overdrive materials onto their PCs or PDAs.

Jeske said that another reason that DPL signed with Overdrive was to get the downloadable audio books. When DPL began offering the downloadable audio books on January 3, 2005, every title was checked out within 24 hours; the library went back to Overdrive and bought more copies and negotiated unlimited checkouts for 50 titles. Many users either load these books onto their Windows Media pocket devices or burn CDs; the product does not work directly with Apple IPods.

There is a workaround for loading to IPods. Users first download the Overdrive audio books and then burn them to CDs. Then the users reload the audio books into ITunes and from there into their IPods.

There are some problems with the downloadable book and audio book market. Some publishers are resisting the movement, fearing that their content will be pirated. Other publishers that are producing downloadable books are signing exclusive deals with vendors, making it necessary for libraries to use multiple vendors if they want all the popular titles. The technical standards vary among publishers, too.

Libraries who chose to offer downloadable media must consider training numerous staff members to assist users.

Surveys and statistics at Denver Public Library show downloadable users want the same titles as print readers. Top circulating titles are the same as those on print bestseller lists – if they are available. If not, almost any downloadable books will do; classics circulate especially well; the demand is so great.

To see recent titles added to the Denver Public Library downloadable books collection, click here.

Published by

Rick Roche

I'm a public library reference librarian with 25 years experience, despite my youth. I am interested in how new technologies will help public libraries offer better services, without taxing the public patience. I like innovations that both our youth and elderly can latch onto without great struggles. Public service is my focus.

10 thoughts on “Downloadable Books, Audio and Video: One Experience”

  1. There are really good audio book rental services like The service is not free but it is very affordable. The books come in both downloadable formats (also uses Overdrive) and CD’s through the mail. The best part is that they allow UNLIMITED rentals and make it easy by giving free trials, free shipping, free promotions and no contracts. They have over 25,000 titles including current Bestsellers.

  2. Hey thanks Ed! I signed up with Jiggerbug and their customer service person even extended my free trial until 2 weeks after christmas. But I have one more tip, do a google search for jiggerbug coupons because there are some good ones out there. I got 20% off.

  3. If you’re interested in major titles you should check out We have the fastest growing library of high quality downloadable titles on the web. There is no membership fee and free titles are available to get a feel for what’s on offer.

    I have a particular interest in downloadable audiobooks – made possible by the recent advances in internet technology and also the huge and growing popularity of MP3 players and iPods. You may be interested to learn that the iPod is selling at the rate of 60,000 units per day!

    Downloadable audio books are also known as digital audio books and that’s exactly what they are: digital versions of the audio books. They can be listened to on a computer, on a CD player or on a portable Mp3 player.

    The most significant advantage of downloadable audio books, combined with the use of portable Mp3 players, is convenience. You can listen to fiction and nonfiction best sellers, how-to books, biographies, children books and so on… while doing boring or repetitive tasks. This way, we can fill the “dead” moments we all have in our lives and increase our knowledge at the same time.

  4. Gerry has a very valauble point here. I find that loading the audiobook straight from the internet ot the PC has a high convenience factor. From that step it’s very easy to prepare and burn a CD is you prefer this for your car stereo, or to immediately load the aduiobook on to your MP3 player, iPod, or even some of the modern cellphones.

    Major editiors make more titles available in auido vorm nearly every day, so the quality of available audio books has certainl yincreased over all. Many NewYorkTimes bestsellers can be downloaded these days.

  5. I agree that audio books are the wave of the future today. I recently joined the Sound Book Emporium affiliate program as a very profitable alternative to and it’s ultra low commissions.

  6. It is interesting to note how some of the security issues that plague the music industry, are not surprisingly affecting the audio book industry also.

    The overdrive system as used by some audio book store merchants is very good, particularly from the point of view that it offers patrons a very easy to use mechanism for downloading and converting audio files to the desired format.

    I think there is little doubt that the convenience of downloading will continue to be the preferred option for obtaining audio books for many people, audio book cds are still very popular given that compact disc players are still very popular in the marketplace although iPods continue to dominate the high-end portable media players and shows no sign of slowing down.

    I for one will be keenly interested to watch the trends for audio book sales in the forthcoming years.

  7. Could not agree more about the merits of downloadable audio books.

    Another place to shop for audio books is
    The affiliate program pays 15% entry level commissions.

    Once you are on the site, check out the FREE tab and download audiobooks on a wide range of topics for free!

  8. I was wondering why some books come out in CD and cassette formats but are not downloadable. I hope the publishers get over it soon! I download at least 7 or 8 books a month, and it’s a major frustration when I have to actually order a title and wait for the CDs to arrive in the mail. It feels like the Pony Express!

  9. Most books will come out in the following format
    1st) paper (physical books)
    2nd) cd (audio books)
    3rd) digital downloadable audio books

    There are several reasons why publishers opted to follow the above pattern. One of them would be familiarity. Since majority of people are used to normal physical format of books new books will come out in this format first. This is where the most money are being made also, though the margins are lower.

    Other formats though yield more profit on one-to-one basis, they’re not producing more profits as a whole.

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