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Trade backs library e-lending, claims Overdrive chief

Overdrive c.e.o. Steve Potash has said there is “enthusiastic support” for library e-lending from “many” trade publishing houses, describing fears over remote downloading as “not a real issue”.

Potash was visiting London this week for talks with the major publishers, as well as the Publishers Association and Booksellers Association, of which the US-based digital distributor has just become an affiliate member.

The Publishers Association announced a controversial baseline position placing restrictions on library e-lending, particularly remote downloading, last October, amid concerns that copyright restrictions were not being observed in some services.

But Potash said Overdrive had “worked directly with all our UK public library partners to ensure the policy of catchment areas” and that the process had “gone well”. He added: “We’ve had the active co-operation of local authorities as they realise that will alleviate concerns.” Only “one or two” publishers were still expressing concerns, he said, but Penguin, Random House, McGraw Hill and Wiley were all “enthusiastically” on board. Pan Macmillan US is known not to be permitting library e-lending.

Potash added while he was aware of “significant contraction” in the UK public library service’s buying of e-books, there was a “solid, steady stream of new UK public library customers” for Overdrive, with in excess of 50 local authorities either now running the service, or in discussions to do so.