An App Called Libby and the Surprisingly Big Business of Library E-books | The New Yorker

Increasingly, books are something that libraries do not own but borrow from the corporations that do.

By Daniel A. Gross, September 2, 2021

Illustration by Seba Cestaro

Steve Potash, the bearded and bespectacled president and C.E.O. of OverDrive, spent the second week of March, 2020, on a business trip to New York City.

OverDrive distributes e-books and audiobooks—i.e., “digital content.” In New York, Potash met with two clients: the New York Public Library and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

By then, Potash had already heard what he described to me recently as “heart-wrenching stories” from colleagues in China, about neighborhoods that were shut down owing to the coronavirus. He had an inkling that his business might be in for big changes when, toward the end of the week, on March 13th, the N.Y.P.L. closed down and issued a statement: “The responsible thing to do—and the best way to serve our patrons right now—is to help minimize the spread of COVID-19.”

The library added, “We will continue to offer access to e-books.”

Source: An App Called Libby and the Surprisingly Big Business of Library E-books | The New Yorker

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