Lurking in the midst of the discussions of libraries trying to obtain ebooks from publishers is a larger issue concerning not just control over ebook ownership, but the control over the delivery platform. If libraries rely on Overdrive, for example, to supply them ebook lending services, they’ve outsourced a critical piece of library infrastructure to an outside party. While this strategy is commonplace for electronic journals and databases, it’s still new enough in digital books that it draws speculation about alternative models.
That’s why a recent announcement of Califa – a library cooperative serving the great majority of the public library systems in the State of California – is intriguing. (HT to Gary Price’s InfoDocket). Califa has decided to create and host its own ebook lending platform, much like the Douglas County Library system and the Internet Archive before it, using its own Adobe Content Server to protect the ebook files with DRM. Califa envisions a pay-to-play model in which its member library systems can utilize its ebook hosting and lending platform. Continue reading