Kansas libraries will soon be participating in a test of the 3M “Cloud Library” ebook service as a possible replacement for Overdrive. I had the opportunity to participate in a demo and discussion of this service at the American Library Association Conference. I see three issues that we should be alert to with the 3m Library Cloud.
- Is it easy to use? 3M has a major goal of making it much easier to download and use ebooks than with Overdrive. You should be able to quickly download books, access them from any compatible device, and share reading notes for the book regardless of which device you are using. I hope the 3M Cloud really is a lot less clunky than Overdrive. In addition they will provide a very visible download terminal for libraries that can invest in making ebooks a much more visible part of their service. However libraries do not have to buy any hardware to use the 3M Cloud service.
- Does the ebook collection meet your needs? Right now 3M has completed agreements with only a few publishers including Random House, Harper Collins and Independent Publishers Group. Will the collection be strong enough to meet library needs?
- Device compatibility. The big question here is whether the service will be compatible with the Kindle reader. I believe that it will, but not right away. It will use the same content formats as Overdrive (EPUB and Adobe DRM) so there is no technical barrier to overcome. However, no agreement has been announced yet for Kindle compatibility.