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OverDrive, Inc.
Company typePrivate
IndustryDigital distribution, eBooks, library services, school services, software and app development, digital content management, publishing
Founded1986 (1986) in Cleveland, Ohio (36 years)
Cleveland, Ohio
United States
Area served
Key people
Steve Potash (Pres and CEO)
ProductsOverDrive Media Console, OverDrive Read, OverDrive Media Station, Content Reserve
OwnerKKR (2020–present)

OverDrive, Inc. is a worldwide digital distributor of eBooks, audiobooks, online magazines and streaming video titles. The company provides digital rights management and download fulfillment services for publishers, public libraries, K-12 schools, colleges, universities, corporations, legal industries, and formerly retailers.

In March of 2023, the company announced plans to sunset its flagship OverDrive app on May 1, 2023. OverDrive's new business model is to transition users to the newer Libby reading app, which allows public, corporate and academic library systems to provide digital content to members of their respective library's network.[1] The content consists of digital books, audiobooks, magazines and an extras section displaying all the databases and streaming media services that public, corporate and academic libraries have to offer to their users.


OverDrive was founded in 1986[2] and originally converted analog media to digital formats, such as interactive diskettes and CD-ROMs.[3] In 2000, the company opened Content Reserve, an online eBook and downloadable audiobook repository from which its distribution business developed.[4]

In 2012, the company announced a series of service upgrades, including a browser-based eReader, and audiobook streaming, which enable access to audiobooks via the company’s OverDrive Media Console app. The company also developed a media station, which allows users to browse their library's digital collection on touchscreen monitors and internet workstations. An API is available which allows developers to integrate OverDrive content into various apps and platforms.[5] The company announced a partnership with LexisNexis to provide the LexisNexis Digital Library, a customized eLending platform for the legal library market.[6]

In 2014, OverDrive completed its headquarters in the Cleveland suburb of Garfield Heights, Ohio.[7]

In April 2015, Rakuten bought OverDrive for $410 million, with the deal set to close in April 2015.[8] OverDrive CEO Steve Potash remained in his position and OverDrive kept its name while operating under Rakuten USA.[9][10]

In 2019, it was reported that private equity firm KKR would be purchasing OverDrive from Rakuten.[8] The price of the sale was not disclosed, though Rakuten said it would recognize about $365.6 million in profit from the sale in the first quarter of 2020.[11][12] Potash later offered more details about the KKR acquisition in a message to OverDrive's library customers;[13] the acquisition was finalized in June 2020.[14]

In June 2020, RBMedia sold its library assets to OverDrive; this includes RBDigital, an app and service for the distribution of digital content. RBMedia and OverDrive are both owned by KKR, with KKR's OverDrive purchase concluded in June 2020.[8] The sale of RBMedia's library division to OverDrive represents a merger of KKR's related assets.[15][16]

On June 9, 2021, it was announced that OverDrive had reached a deal to acquire Kanopy, a leading on-demand streaming video platform for public and academic libraries. The acquisition was completed on July 15, 2021.[17]

Public Libraries and K-12 Schools

OverDrive launched its Digital Library Reserve, a digital download platform for public libraries, in 2002.[18] In 2004, the platform was changed into a DRM-protected audiobook download platform.[19][unreliable source?] In 2005, OverDrive installed download stations into public libraries[20] and added music to its library platform.[21][unreliable source?] OverDrive added downloadable videos in April 2006.[22][unreliable source?] In 2007, the company launched its School Download Library, an eBook service for K–12 schools based on Digital Library Reserve. In March 2008, the company announced plans to provide MP3 audiobooks to public libraries as well as retailers.[23]

OverDrive's Libby and Sora programs for mobile devices can check out eBooks and audiobooks from public libraries and K-12 Schools.

Book retail

Before entering the library market, OverDrive distributed eBooks to many e-tailers. In 2002, OverDrive was selected as the distributor of HarperCollins’ eBooks to the publisher's online retail stores.[24] OverDrive launched web stores for Harlequin Enterprises in 2005.[25] In 2008, OverDrive announced that it would provide download services for Borders Books.[26]

OverDrive has entered into partnerships with technology companies including Adobe Systems, Microsoft, Mobipocket, and Nokia. In 2008, Adobe and OverDrive jointly announced that OverDrive would be the co-developer and operator of Adobe ADEPT, a hosted DRM service to protect files viewed with Adobe Digital Editions.[citation needed]

In 2012, OverDrive partnered with Nokia to launch Nokia Reading, an eReading app and service for Nokia's Lumia 900, 800, 710, and 610 Windows Phone devices.[27][unreliable source?]

Products and services

OverDrive's download services include several software as a service products for publishers, public libraries, K-12 schools, colleges, universities, corporations and legal industries as well as web-based products for content protection and management.

Libby is an OverDrive mobile app which supports users in accessing services from their local public, corporate and academic libraries.

Events and outreach

OverDrive holds a biennial user group meeting called Digipalooza to train and educate librarians on the download service. Held in Cleveland, Ohio, the event focuses on trends, best practices, and outreach ideas for public library download websites.[28]

At the 2008 Public Library Association National Conference, OverDrive unveiled preliminary plans for the nationally touring Digital Bookmobile.[29] The travelling exhibit is housed inside an 18-wheeler and visits public libraries throughout the OverDrive network. Inside the tractor-trailer, learning stations guide patrons through all aspects of their public library's download service. As of August 2012, OverDrive has hosted more than 500 Digital Bookmobile events at libraries and community centers throughout North America.[30][unreliable source?]

In 2011, OverDrive CEO Steve Potash made obvious hints that the Amazon Kindle would join other major eReaders in their system as soon as September 2011. In his "Crystal Ball Report," during the final session of OverDrive's July 2011 Digipalooza conference, he hinted at the month of release.[31] On September 21, 2011, OverDrive began supporting Kindle public library book borrowing.[32]

On September 18, 2014, OverDrive debuted International "Read an Ebook" Day, "an annual holiday to celebrate and raise awareness for reading on digital devices."[33] Leading up to and on that day, OverDrive encouraged "readers around the world" to participate "by choosing from millions of free eBooks from their local library or purchasing an eBook from a retailer online."[33] Additionally, throughout the day, OverDrive celebrated the holiday by giving away tablets and devices every hour on the event website ( and through social media to readers who tell their story of what eBooks mean to them, by using the hashtag #eBookDay on Facebook or Twitter to tell their story, or commenting directly at the event website.[33]



OverDrive is criticized for relying on digital rights management (DRM) protection technology from Microsoft for the bulk of its audiobooks. Microsoft's refusal to update its Macintosh versions of Windows Media Player to accommodate the requisite encryption scheme disqualifies Apple computer users from accessing the bulk of OverDrive's audio files, which are formatted as DRM Windows Media Audio (WMA).

In March 2008, OverDrive announced that it would distribute a collection of approximately 3,000 audiobooks in the MP3 format, which is more widely compatible.[34] On November 19, 2008, OverDrive also released the OverDrive Media Console for Mac, which allows Mac owners to download and listen to MP3 audiobooks from their library on a home computer.[citation needed] OverDrive's streaming audiobook option—released in 2012—enables Mac users to access many audiobooks that were previously unavailable due to WMA compatibility issues.[35]


In January 2009, OverDrive informed Fictionwise that it would no longer be providing downloads for purchasers of eBooks through Fictionwise as of January 31, 2009; no reason was provided to Fictionwise as to why it was being shut down. This prevents previous purchasers from being able to renew their books on new devices.[36] Fictionwise was working to provide replacement eBooks for its customers in alternative, non-DRM-protected formats, but did not have the rights to provide all of the books in different formats.[36]

See also


  1. ^ Sarah Perez. "PS Library e-book app OverDrive to shut down on May 1st, readers directed to Libby instead". Tech Crunch.
  2. ^ Reidel, Jeff (February 26, 2018). "OverDrive steering success in Northeast Ohio". WKYC. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
  3. ^ McDonnell, Sean (December 16, 2023). "Libraries loaning e-books; There's the Libby app for that, and a Clevelander made it". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved December 20, 2023.
  4. ^ "eBook Distribution Goes Global; OverDrive Content Reserve Creates International and Multi-lingual Marketplace".
  5. ^ "OverDrive's Next Generation eBook Service to Extend Value of Digital Libraries". (Press release).
  6. ^ "LexisNexis Announces LexisNexis Digital Library" (Press release). Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  7. ^ "Fast-growing OverDrive shows off new HQ". Crain's Cleveland Business. April 12, 2013. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  8. ^ a b c Gross, Daniel A (September 2, 2021). "An App Called Libby and the Surprisingly Big Business of Library E-Books". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on September 2, 2021. Retrieved July 22, 2022.
  9. ^ Milliot, Jim (March 19, 2015). "Rakuten to Buy OverDrive". Publishers Weekly.
  10. ^ "Rakuten Buys Ebook And Audiobook Platform OverDrive For $410M". TechCrunch. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  11. ^ Milliot, Jim (December 26, 2019). "Equity Firm Agrees to Buy OverDrive". Publishers Weekly.
  12. ^ Hoffelder, Nate (December 26, 2019). "Rakuten Sells OverDrive to Private Investment Firm". The Digital Reader.
  13. ^ Kozlowski, Michael (February 11, 2020). "Overdrive CEO discloses new information on KKR deal". Good e-Reader. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  14. ^ Milliot, Jim (June 9, 2020). "KKR Completes OverDrive Purchase". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  15. ^ Scott Suttell (June 24, 2020). "Digital media company OverDrive buys the library assets of audiobook producer RBmedia". Retrieved September 18, 2020.
  16. ^ "OverDrive to Acquire RBdigital from RBmedia". June 23, 2020. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  17. ^ "L Squared Capital Partners Announces Pending Sale of Kanopy to OverDrive". Business Wire. June 9, 2021. Archived from the original on June 9, 2021. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  18. ^ "OverDrive's Digital Library Reserve Enables Circulating eBook and Digital Magazine Collections". The Free Library. November 19, 2021. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  19. ^ "OverDrive Audio Books Platform Released". OverDrive. October 26, 2004. Archived from the original on January 2, 2010. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  20. ^ "OverDrive Launches Audiobook Kiosks in Public Libraries". DRM Watch. December 15, 2005. Archived from the original on July 24, 2011. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  21. ^ "World's Greatest Classical Music Available via Download from Public Library Websites". OverDrive. Archived from the original on January 2, 2010. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  22. ^ "OverDrive Download Video Celebrates One Year Anniversary".
  23. ^ "OverDrive to offer DRM-free audiobooks".
  24. ^ "HarperCollins Launches Four Ebook Stores".
  25. ^ "Harlequin Enterprises Announces the Launch of E-Book Program". Archived from the original on May 17, 2011.
  26. ^ "OverDrive Powers Digital Audiobook Service for Borders".
  27. ^ "OverDrive and Nokia Reading".
  28. ^ "Sourcebooks CEO Dominique Raccah to present keynote at OverDrive Digipalooza '21". Library Technology Guides. July 20, 2021. Archived from the original on July 31, 2021. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  29. ^ "Digital Bookmobile to Launch National Tour at Public Libraries". Overdrive. March 26, 2008. Archived from the original on June 14, 2021. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  30. ^ Lovett, Michael (August 10, 2012). "Happy 4th Birthday, Digital Bookmobile!". OverDrive. Archived from the original on August 14, 2012. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  31. ^ "OverDrive Hints That Kindle Library Lending is Coming in September". Archived from the original on September 25, 2011.
  32. ^ Fleishman, Glenn (September 23, 2011). "OverDrive Adds Kindle-Format Titles to Library Ebook Lending". TidBits. Archived from the original on June 6, 2019. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  33. ^ a b c "International Read an eBook Day Debuts September 18". Yahoo!Finance. September 16, 2014. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  34. ^ Oder, Norman (March 19, 2008). "OverDrive Breaks the iPod Barrier for Downloadable Audio". Library Journal. Archived from the original on April 9, 2008. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  35. ^ "OverDrive to Provide Streaming Audiobooks to Libraries and Schools". Overdrive. June 13, 2012. Archived from the original on June 18, 2012. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  36. ^ a b "Fictionwise Support FAQ". Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved January 8, 2009.