Trends in Ed: Platform vs. Publisher

Submitted by Laura Costello on Thu, 02/16/2012 - 6:56pm.
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Digital publishing is something of a changing neighborhood, but recently the level of hostility has escalated noticeably. Last week Penguin terminated its contract with mega library content provider Overdrive over clashes with Overdrive’s Kindle lending agreement. The Penguin e-books were licensed to lend through the Overdrive platform, but Kindle lending requires books to route through Amazon first. Not cool, Overdrive. Abandoned by all but Random House of the big six publishers, Overdrive’s singular hold over library lending seems tenuous.

In a similar shenanigan, Kno is taking legal action against Cengage Learning over their e-book extras. Kno’s platform featured a “journal” feature which allowed students to export passages of text into a virtual notebook for later use. Cengage claims this amounts to the creation of a derivative work and violates copyright. Cengage terminated their licensing agreement with Kno and Kno has filed a suit to keep the content. Kno relies on Cengage for a sizable chunk of their sales and holdings but as Mashable’s Sarah Kessler reports, there’s currently a glut of platform options for textbook publishers.

In brighter news, the library world was abuzz this morning with news of a fresh platform for e-book sales and lending. Bilbary, a UK export, is under excited investigation by the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies for its potential to decriminalize the idea of e-book lending. Bilbary currently holds agreements with five of the big six publishers (the holdout hasn’t been identified...but Random House seems particularly slow to act) but does not have any plans to tread the thorny path of library lending. It seems possible that the platform could develop into a demand-driven solution for public libraries, but we’ll have to wait for the launch in March or April.

Photo: Mike Zoss via Bighappyfunhouse