Oct. 21, 2021

#46: Steve Potash (OverDrive)

Steve Potash — Founder, President, and CEO of OverDrive — on managing the largest global network of digital book lending libraries — over 40,000 libraries and schools worldwide in over 72 countries, with over a billion checkouts of ebooks.

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Our conversation this week is with Steve Potash  — Founder, President, and CEO of OverDrive.

Steve founded OverDrive here in Cleveland back in 1986. Over the last 3 decades Steve has led OverDrive to become the leading digital reading platform for ebooks, audiobooks and other digital media for libraries, schools, government agencies, corporate learning centers and colleges and universities worldwide. OverDrive now manages the largest global network of digital book lending libraries — over 40,000 libraries and schools worldwide in over 72 countries, with over a billion checkouts of eBooks.

As CEO, Steve focuses on OverDrive’s vision to create a world enlightened by reading. A pioneer in the digital content and distribution industry, Steve was among the first to develop useful applications for digital books in the 1980s. He began his career offering innovative floppy diskette, CD-ROM and print-to-digital conversion services, and introduced early versions of digital books to the law, accounting and healthcare industries, which we cover in our conversation!

Really enjoyed Steve's perspective on the importance of libraries in our society and technology's implications for reading and literacy. Hope you all heed Steve's advice to visit your local library and enjoy my conversation with Steve Potash.


Learn more about OverDrive

Learn more about OverDrive’s Libby app

Follow Steve on Twitter @OverDriveSteve

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Learn more about Jeffrey Stern @ https://jeffreys.page

Connect with Jeffrey Stern on Linkedin or on Twitter

Follow Lay of The Land on Twitter and on LinkedIn


Steve Potash [00:00:00]:

We are always evangelizing. Our mission is to connect as many readers with authors and books land. The publishers want discovery of their collections. Authors want discovery and use. Land socialization land, promotion of their books, their new books and their backlist. And through the Overdrive marketplace, we have created probably the largest superstore for how schools, libraries, government institutions worldwide can evaluate opportunities to serve their communities with digital books, digital media.

Jeffrey Stern [00:00:41]:

Let's discover the Cleveland entrepreneurial ecosystem. We are telling the stories of its entrepreneurs and those supporting them. Welcome to the Lay of the Land podcast, where we are exploring what people are building in Cleveland. I'm your host, Jeffrey Stern, and today I have the pleasure of speaking with Steve Potash, who is the president and CEO of Overdrive, a company that he founded here in Cleveland back in 1986 and over the last three decades. A company that he has built to become the leading digital reading platform for ebooks audiobooks land other digital media for libraries, schools, government agencies, corporate learning centers and colleges land universities worldwide. Overdrive today manages the largest global network of digital book lending libraries. Over 40,000 libraries and schools worldwide in over 72 countries with over 1 billion checkouts of ebooks. As CEO, Steve focuses on Overdrive's vision to create a world enlightened by reading. A vision which he is still working tirelessly towards today. A true pioneer in the digital content and distribution industry, steve was among the first to develop useful applications for digital books. In the 1980s, he began his career offering innovative floppy disks, CDROM and print to digital conversion services and introduced early versions of digital books to the law, accounting and healthcare industries which we will cover in our conversation. I very much enjoyed Steve's perspective on the importance of libraries in our society. Land technology's, implications for reading and literacy. I hope you all heed Steve's advice to visit your local library and I also hope you all enjoy my conversation with Steve Potash. So there is a lot to cover here. And unlike many of the the startups that we have had on the show, we are are not just going back a few years in time here to arrive at the origin story. There's a real depth of history and the proverbial overnight success 20 years plus in the making. I'm excited to explore with you, but before we kind of dive into how Overdrive has come to be and evolve over the years, I'd love to start with just a brief overview of Overdrive today and we can then kind of circle back to how you've gotten here and how overdrive has come to be.

Steve Potash [00:03:10]:

My pleasure. Thanks Jeff. Overdrive today is a supplier of digital books, premium digital books. Ebooks you can download and read on the screen, audiobooks you can listen in your earbuds or connect to your car while you're commuting or walking. And other premium digital media in partnership with all the world's greatest authors and publishers and in service to institutions that help our communities. And these institutions are primarily public libraries, our schools for our K Twelve community, as well as we serve universities, corporate knowledge centers, and worldwide institutions. At the end of the day, if you've ever discovered or downloaded a book, listened to an audiobook, or got a digital magazine from a school or library, it's most likely come from Overdrive.

Jeffrey Stern [00:04:08]:

And I know the path to ebooks, to libraries even, was an evolution of where the company originally started. And I'd love to just kind of dive into what was the original problem and how you came to recognize it. Land your own proclivity towards entrepreneurship, what were kind of the formative moments that drew you towards this company and the vision and the path you've now blazed with what Overdrive has become today.

Steve Potash [00:04:37]:

Well, Jeff, as you mentioned during the opening remarks, I've had the pleasure of being on a journey on how technology can enable access to information inside what was the pages of a print book. I've been on this journey for over 30 some years. At the earliest days. I'm born and bred here in Northeast Ohio. Graduated from Cleveland Heights High School. Land I was a lifelong entrepreneur, but as part of my entrepreneur early days, I also went to law school at nights at Cleveland State University, the Cleveland Marshall College of Law. And it was after getting my degree and passing the bar that I decided to test my law license and open my own practice. And it was that early experience in the mid, late 70s, really late 70s, where I became frustrated with the fact that the practice of law required producing tons of paper, paper that was required either in communication with clients, lawsuits, contracts and the like. Most of the content for the practice of law was in print books, and it was the opportunity for me to imagine how I might be able to unlock print book content into a digital format that would enable me to be more productive and more efficient at the practice of law. That started a process of digitizing law books. And long story short, overdrive. Today, from those early beginnings of taking books in print land imagining how the content of a book could be available in a digital electronic format for benefiting readers users, that's a 30 year journey. So I started as an entrepreneur, opening my own law practice, trying to digitize books. And as they say, one thing leads to another. I built a series of digital electronic book products. Land I said with my technology and the book publisher's content, we could create a new series of electronic book products. And that led me to my first deal with West Publishing in the early 80s, early mid eighty s, and creating a series of electronic books. And that is still the basis of Overdrive's business today. We are a trusted partner to all the world's greatest publishers authors, every category, every subject, they know that if they partner with Overdrive, their book content and overdrive's technology and know how, can create new opportunities to reach readers and for their authors. Land their publishing businesses help expand their brand, their sales, and their growth as well.

Jeffrey Stern [00:07:33]:

When you reflect back on this journey and thinking back to some of those formative moments where maybe it was just in the loss space, was there ever a vision or an inclination that Overdrive could grow to be the company that it is today with the scale and the impact that it has? Or were you really just kind of focused on the early days from a vision perspective? Land solving a really specific problem in the digitalization of content in books.

Steve Potash [00:08:04]:

No, I think the vision started in the early mid 80s when I was first trying to develop electronic law books. This was PrepC. And law firms were using dedicated word processors. Old Daisy will. Printers. And it wasn't until the early mid 80s, when Radio Shack and CPM, and then eventually Dos 1.0, bill Gates IBM PC started to demonstrate that there could be this complete new future, where on every desk, whether it's in your home or office, there could be a personal computer. And it was the personal computer revolution that allowed me to imagine that on the screen that was sitting in front of me in my South Euclid home, why wouldn't I want to have access to every book for purposes of either information or my business, or for purposes of education or entertaining the value that books deliver? And so early on, I started to imagine how it was a personal computer that followed the early R and D work I was doing with digitizing law books. That really gave me the interest of starting to go to New York and then saying, well, if we did this for the legal publishing community and expanded reach for their products into the law office, why shouldn't we be talking to other industries? Land we did then go first to professional publishing. We wound up and again, these products were initially floppy disconnect products, right? Ebooks wasn't a word. We were doing electronic publishing on floppy deskets. Land three and a half deskets. And it was CDROM that really opened up the door. So I started going in the McGraw Hill educational publishers, tax Medical College textbook publishers, and starting to challenge them that the future of their book business would need to include an electronic edition. And I think it was a personal computer that was a real eye opener that this appliance was going to make access to digital books something affordable. I bought my first IBM PC at Sears on a credit card.

Jeffrey Stern [00:10:37]:

How much resistance was there in the early days of painting this vision for people that is drastically different from how historically it has ever been feasible?

Steve Potash [00:10:48]:

Well, we were decades too early. There was an eagerness for professional educational reference publishers to take advantage of these new outlets for their intellectual property, for their editorial products. And we really started to build the company quite dramatically during the CDROM era pre Internet. And that was a period of growth land. Many of these professional published products that we have and we have an ebook museum at Overdrive's headquarters, these kept us growing through the early 90s because many of these products were also evergreen titles and meaning that if you bought your tax guide it was almost precursor of today's subscriptions. If you were purchasing CDROM reference materials every year, you'd need the new edition. But it was still fairly limited to professional publishing segments. And I had always imagined that CDROM which then enabled us in the advent of Windows multimedia again, when I started I was dealing with a monochrome monitor where text on the screen was a big thing, just perhaps the electronic words. I'll never forget when I was pitching in the early days Western Union, they couldn't believe that we could have upper and lowercase in a message because they had gone 100 years with all one font size. So, I mean, I was really early pioneering CDROM was a great decade of growth discovery and it allowed us to then also start to dabble into some of the consumer hobby markets and we started to do r land d deals with Simon and Schuster at the time, Time Warner Book Group. And so CDROM also was another platform that helped Overdrive grow and broaden its appeal across different publishing segments land into broader audiences. In the 90s, if you were a college textbook publisher and you wanted to get a state or a major university to adopt your History 101 book, it almost was expected that you would have a CDROM in the back of the textbook or CDROM for the instructor edition. So the 90s pre Internet were good for Overdrive to establish and broaden our partnership across the publishing segments. We got out of just professional law, tax accounting and really started to introduce ourself into education, consumer business publishing partnerships. And by the way, many of the publishing partnerships that we started in the Overdrive still enjoys. We've evolved with our suppliers. And of course in the last 20 years we've helped pioneer and develop new ways for communities, students, land all citizens to benefit themselves from access to a book land or information from their school or library.

Jeffrey Stern [00:14:23]:

One of the ideas that I had just been kind of curious about, I feel like the tension is still there today, I imagine as much as it was back then. But really, with the advent of digital book lending and how you kind of paved the path for that, what I've been thinking about is how do you navigate that digital book lending model in a way where you can? Satisfy and balance the interests of publishers from where you started, but to now include libraries, schools and authors in a way where it's the symbiotic relationship where everyone kind of comes out a winner.

Steve Potash [00:15:00]:

Well, it's something that is an ongoing balancing act. We have been operating a continuous marketplace called Overdrive Marketplace as the platform that brings together the buyers and sellers of digital books. The sellers are obviously the 25 30,000 publishers imprints that we have distribution partnerships with, and they stop go from the largest houses like Penguin, Random House and the Simon and Schuster's, Harper Collins down to thousands of thousands of small press worldwide in every language. So Overdrive Marketplace has created a very robust network that allows the publishers, authors and rights holders to set the terms, pricing and conditions to enable libraries, schools, corporate lending sites, knowledge centers, government agencies, military buyers worldwide to evaluate if they want to purchase access to digital titles or collections and how they make them available to their readers. And through this marketplace, we have evolved over 20 years to evolve with a variety of content models that range from how we launched digital book lending for libraries 20 years ago. To make this work, we started with replicating really the legacy model that libraries and publishers have been using for well over 100 plus years. We call it the one copy, one user. Publishers and authors and libraries understood that if they bought 20 copies of Harry Potter Sorcerer Stone in print, that library would have 20 copies available for 20 readers to borrow at any one time. And if others wanted it at the same time, they would be on a waitlist or place a hold, and when a unit became available or a book was returned, it'd then be available for the next user. So that model is still in use and is still the mainstay of creating a balance where publishers and authors know that if there's broad demand for a popular book, the library, to satisfy that demand, may have to buy dozens or hundreds of units at a price that the publisher sets. Now, that model is still in use today, but over the years, we have added about a dozen other models that each publisher, author, land, institutional buyer can take advantage of. A second most popular model now is simultaneous use, and it's pretty much like a subscription that if a publisher or collection is available for a community, a school, a library to license for our one year subscription, everybody with a library card or everyone with a student ID at the same time can borrow the book. There's never a waitlist. It's always available. That's a very popular model in the school markets. Those models help us help communities create book clubs, summer reading programs. Together we read campaigns. We've had many of those in the last year or two because of COVID and pandemic response and relief, where communities needed access to these materials, land these titles, and publishers would agree to allow a community to acquire access for whether it's two weeks, three months or a year simultaneous access. And it's evolved into many other flavors of access models in some cases. Now we enable entire catalogs to be available for readers to browse and review, and the library hasn't purchased any of them. And it's a pay as you go. It's a pay per view, or we call it a cost per serve, cost per checkout. And this allows demand to determine how the library is using its funds. They could put in a whole range of books. There's no cost to the library or school, but if readers or students select and borrow a particular title at the end of the month, the library or school is charged based on actual usage. There's many other variations of that. So to answer your question, we are always evangelizing. Our mission is to connect as many readers with authors, land books, and the publishers want discovery of their collections. Authors want discovery and use land, socialization land, promotion of their books, their new books, and their backlist. And through the Overdrive marketplace, we have created probably the largest superstore for how schools, libraries, government institutions worldwide can evaluate opportunities to serve their communities with digital books, digital media land in many cases, they could look at a single title and have multiple options and how they want to purchase it for the use intended.

Jeffrey Stern [00:20:36]:

What have been some of the consequences unforeseen of the scale that you've achieved in terms of how people readers are interfacing with content and books and how that's changed over the years? What have been kind of the second order effects of some of the implications of just this increased access to reading and books and the different models on the business side that have surprised you along the way?

Steve Potash [00:21:06]:

Well, all of the major innovations land the dramatic success which is reflected in the billions of server calls that we are experiencing on our platform and on our networks each week is because of the great leadership and work of so many brilliant librarians and educators and public servants. Every step forward that overdrive has made in how digital books became a successful aspect of a community's library or a growing component for a student's academic success is because of the challenges that were presented to us as a team here in Cleveland to imagine how we may help them in their mission. So when you ask me about, there have been every week new revelations of trends of outcomes that we would never have anticipated. Land when we first launched and this whole thing started in the basement of Cleveland Public Library on Superior Avenue with the Public Library Network. Today, that now is our flagship product line. The public library has helped us inspire how we might take similar tools, content and know how and apply it to solve problems in the classroom, or how we can apply it to the workforce to empower employees, or how it might help solve problems for literacy or accessibility. For communities where access to books, access to opportunity are challenged or limited. So it's quite difficult for me to point out any one or two of these surprises. It's been an ongoing opportunity to provide the tools, the know how, and the content that librarians, educators, and community servants who are trying to solve problems or improve the quality and outcomes of the communities they serve. There's too many to list. I'm focused on the unfinished business, but we are very fortunate that as a certified B mission based company, we do envision a world enlightened by reading. And we are fortunate to have the trust of every publishing house land world's greatest authors that trust us to innovate with their products and find a balance that they are comfortable with and serves all stakeholder interests. Publishers and authors want to get success in the marketplace. Institutional partners are mission based, trying to serve the communities and be good stewards of their budgets and taxpayer dollars. Land we've organized ourselves into different teams, and I'm proud to say here in Cleveland, we have well over 100 librarians and educators from practices including prison librarians, literacy experts, accessibility and those serving those with visual impairment, and how we are constantly challenging ourselves to earn the privilege of being part of these great institutions. We have a few more chapters ahead of us. I think we're still at early days.

Jeffrey Stern [00:24:52]:

What do you view as the unfinished business when you think about overdrive today and where you are and how much you've accomplished? What are those next chapters that you're looking forward to?

Steve Potash [00:25:02]:

Well, there's been an ongoing pandemic around Illiteracy. Land when we want to help our libraries, help our schools, help our nation to overcome all challenges. It starts with literacy, and no one could put a digital book, a text on a screen, or put a story in your earbuds better than overdrive our award winning apps. Libby our school reading app, our student reading app. Sora sora no one can do it better, but how that changes the outcome of a student in his academic journey, how it helps prepare a household for the challenges of career change or making decisions about their health and wellness. We have a lot of work to do. The work is on the shoulders of our institutional partners, and we're fortunate enough to have access to the world's greatest books and constantly investing in evidence based improvements so that we can continue in this journey of making a difference, in changing how our institutions best serve their communities.

Jeffrey Stern [00:26:16]:

Yeah. How do you balance the next few chapters that you've just land out with some of the challenges? From the market perspective, what are the things that proverbially keep you up at night? What are the things that you worry about from the business perspective?

Steve Potash [00:26:32]:

Well, the things that keep me up at night are trying to be good or responsive partners to the institutions and suppliers we have throughout the world. It's not the challenges that are giving me pause. It's the responsibility we have to serve our global audience of readers, institutions, and partners. Whether it's the national library of Singapore, all of the Australian, new Zealand and southeast Asian libraries and schools, we have a responsibility to be on call on service as you would expect your public institutions to be. I don't really have much anxiety as I did in early stages of the business where we went through a decade of making payroll land surviving land a tech building a software company in the in Cleveland, Ohio, wasn't exactly the most fertile ground for fundraising or investment. So I'm fortunate to say that we are well beyond most of those keeping me up at night challenges. I'm more inspired by the opportunity to continue to leverage the network land the capabilities that we do have and make sure that we're not slowing down the pace of challenging ourselves to innovate and to earn the privilege of being the partners that we are with so many major institutions worldwide.

Jeffrey Stern [00:28:12]:

Yeah. On the inspiration front, there's kind of a few macro topics I wanted to get your perspective on, and one of them we've talked quite a lot already about the libraries specifically, but I'm kind of personally of this belief that libraries have to be one of the most underrated public institutions that we have in our society. And I feel like your relationship with them land insight working with them over the last few years. Would love to get your perspective on how you view libraries role in society and how they've kind of adapted with the digital advancements and the impact that that has on libraries and what you kind of foresee as the role of libraries going forward.

Steve Potash [00:28:57]:

Well, Jeff, you're correct. They are underappreciated. It is unfortunate that many of my generation have more nostalgic, warm views of the library from their childhood, or maybe for the seniors that now pre COVID just really enjoy the benefit of their local library as a resource. But libraries have been essential, essential frontline resources underappreciated always. It's in times of challenge that the library's doors are always open without judgment, without criteria, and through every challenge that a community faces. The public library and the librarian has been an objective, caring resource similar to any of the other critical services that we appreciate in time of need. The public libraries and under the former director and through the continuation of coyote county public library, former director Sari Feldman, who rose to become the president of the American library association, the oldest and the largest professional association of librarians in the world, she launched a number of years ago a campaign called libraries transform. And it was a campaign to help librarians themselves at least recognize and communicate all the lay libraries transform, the communities they serves and the lives they touch, whether it's in an urban center where access to WiFi when those doors in the Urban centers open at 09:00 a.m. If you're from a household without broadband and you're trying to find a job or get answers or a student trying to complete the assignment, the library is an essential community resource. When their doors were closed, people were camping out in the parking lot to use the broadband WiFi. In the communities across this nation and worldwide, libraries have become maker spaces, career centers, places to get prepared to learn a language, a skill. They've always helped educated our youngest citizens with story time and early literacy programs. They've created Comfort Land Relief through their book clubs and their reader advisory services. Yes, I'm proud to be a library advocate and this is why we have a lot of unfinished work over the next few years that we are going to continue to find ways that with the digital content and our technology, how can we keep in lockstep with how you want to serve your community?

Jeffrey Stern [00:32:09]:

Yeah, I think it's a good segue to just talk briefly about the Libby app itself. I know we've mentioned it a few times here. I've used it personally. It's incredibly easy to use, it makes everything very accessible. But I'd love for you to just give a little bit of a deeper dive into the Libby app and the experience and where that kind of idea came from.

Steve Potash [00:32:32]:

Well, in 2000, well, even pre 2000, overdrive had developed desktop apps where you could purchase from an ebook store. Prior to libraries, overdrive had hosted ecommerce sites for the sale of an ebook to a consumer with a credit card or a download audiobook. So Overdrive for over 20 years has had desktop and mobile apps allowing you to select, download and enjoy a digital book. When we were evolving in the early days, even in public library, one of the most popular earliest routines was for a library card holder to download an audiobook to their PC and then burn CDs for the car. And I'm going well before smartphones, ipods and the like. But over the years, we constantly challenge ourselves to improve the ease of use, streamline the steps, make it easier to onboard a new user. And about four years ago, we introduced the first pre release version of Libby Li B Y. Libby is one of the most decorated ebook and audiobook and magazine apps in the market at the Apple Store 4.8 stars land proud to constantly find ways to delight Land surprise readers worldwide. We just added support for four additional languages. So Libya is being used globally for native books in the user interface all over the world. Our job is to promote Land showcase the great work of the local library who has invested in digital books for their users. I can tell you that if you have never tried to download an ebook or audiobook, if you install Libby libby is conversational and has a variety of built in conveniences. Libby will say if you don't have a library card, let's find your local library. In about 70 metro markets, you can instantly start to borrow and read using your mobile phone number and get you an instant digital card. Libby finds your library. Libby lets you create an instant digital card, and then Libby allows you to browse and explore from, in the case of many markets, hundreds of thousands of best selling books for yourself, for your family, for your career, or just for any hobby interest, or just for fun. The integration of Libby now into so many of the IoT platforms. With the use of Android Auto, with CarPlay, we've now working with dozens of major platforms and appliance companies who are promoting Libby and access to an audiobook anywhere you are.

Jeffrey Stern [00:35:47]:

Yeah, no, it's a pretty incredible experience, I will say, from an app perspective. Just the onboarding, it is remarkably easy to use, and it is a delightful.

Steve Potash [00:35:59]:

Experience if you haven't tried magazines. In Libby, we have access through many of our libraries to over 3000 current issues and back issues. And if it's an article view like The New Yorker or The Economist, you can resize a reflowable type. If you're looking at one of the more tabloid style or who wore it better, you have all the high res graphics pinch and zoom. It's getting a tremendous amount of engagement and helping libraries reach segments of the community that hadn't found a reason to get a library card or appreciate their local library. And Libya is part of that equation.

Jeffrey Stern [00:36:46]:

One of the again, the more macro level things I was curious about and just your own personal perspective on this. I am a little bit of an old soul, and I feel like I have this proclivity towards physical paper books, obviously understanding the benefits of the ebooks and the accessibility of it. But I'm just curious, in your own perspective, how you have kind of balanced maybe the nostalgia for the old hard copy paper books with the proliferation of ebooks and really being a driving force behind it in our society.

Steve Potash [00:37:23]:

Well, at Overdrive, we believe in books and reading. Land we love books in all formats. I buy books, as does many of our Libby users, our library users, our surveys of our digital books. Land digital audiobooks constantly demonstrate that people that borrow books from the library buy more books than people that don't use the library. And we, again, as partnering with our publishing houses, we work with them in a variety of ways. Land we promote reading in all forms. We believe that digital has a convenience land always available. You can at the last minute remember that you left and you didn't pick up a book to take with you. So we're very comfortable and confident in the role that digital books, digital audio magazines have complementing the industry and all stakeholders. We also love and support all of our booksellers, independent booksellers, and the national and major. Booksellers. We believe that books and reading need more promotion and more customers, because books and reading as a community and overall has been on the decline with the advent of all the other digital media streaming video, social media. So we promote and celebrate books in all forms. Print is great land. In many cases, we find readers that want to have a great book, and they may start it in one format get in the car, want to listen to it, come home at night, sit in an easy chair and pick up the hardcover. It's all good.

Jeffrey Stern [00:39:16]:

Are you optimistic about the future of reading with this growing competition for all these other mediums trying to vie for our attention and our time?

Steve Potash [00:39:26]:

Well, we are champions of reading. And as a matter of fact, potentially as a result of the pandemic, the publishing industry in the US. Has had some record land banner years. So while consumer media consumption surveys over the last few decades have shown a decline in the amount of minutes adult Americans spend reading long form, we still feel optimistic because we still have a vast majority of Americans who have yet to experience a digital book on a screen or in a set of earbuds or on their Walk. I can tell you I read on my smartphone daily. I listen to audiobooks land. When I talk to some of my friends or those that aren't familiar with downloading an ebook, many will say, oh, well, I could never read a book on my phone. And so I said, have you ever had an audiobook? Have you ever had a professional actor read you a great story or allow you to be up to date with that new self help or business or wellness title? And then when I talk about audiobooks, two thirds of adult Americans have never listened to an audiobook. So yes, reading overall has been challenged with all of the new forms of digital media social media, online entertainment, streaming video but we still have a tremendous set of greenfield opportunities to introduce and promote great books and great stories as a result of the mobile phones and the ubiquitous broadband WiFi and IoT devices.

Jeffrey Stern [00:41:22]:

What are your favorite kinds of books to consume?

Steve Potash [00:41:27]:

Well, I am always with about five business or self help titles. I also love a lot of the investigative journalism titles. I don't want to start naming names because we've made a lot of money in the last few years with political genres. But Reading Think Again or Santa Gupka's keep Sharp or Understanding I'm always trying self improvement, wellness and leadership and business acumen. I'm so fortunate that our local libraries, whether it's Cleveland Public through Cleveland Consortium or Chiraga County Public Library or many of the other regional systems, they are constantly adding all the New York Times bestsellers and every book that is the hot book, the It book, we have access to it through our local public library. It's a long list and through the authors that come into town or now the virtual author events that are hosted by our local libraries, it's a real pleasure to have some cases early access, I'll tell you. I had the great honor of interviewing Anita Hill for 40 minutes in advance of her upcoming book, which is upcoming by Penguin Random House next month, called Believing the 30 Year Journey to End Gender Based Violence. And reading that galley, as they call it, pre release, I had to print it out from a protected PDF on 400 pages because it's not out yet. To newborn. The honor I had of being the first one to interview Professor Anita Hill on the 30 year anniversary of her testimony before the US. Senate House Judiciary Committee at the time chaired by Senator Joe Biden. I don't want to give you a spoiler alert, but he makes appearance in the end of the book again as president. So I'm a lucky guy. I get access to every book. Land too many books, not enough time.

Jeffrey Stern [00:43:54]:

That is the challenge of it, for sure. I know we're coming a little bit up on time here. One of the stories that I wanted to hear about specific really, to Overdrive is it's always fun to understand what's in a name. And I know Overdrive was not actually the original name of the company, and I wanted to kind of hear the story of how Overdrive itself came to be and what happened there back when you were starting it.

Steve Potash [00:44:23]:

In the earliest days when we first did products, I was doing law books and then Microsoft had entered the market. Land I created a name, Turbosoft. By the way, I'm a car guy. I have a passion and I love cars, always have, used to work on them. Land still fascinated with automotive fun. So I was in a situation where I needed to change a company name. And without getting into details, the was a trademark dispute. The term overdrive in the car business at the time is the highest gear in the car that allowed you to shift into Overdrive and go fastest, most efficiently. And I was working on an add on product and we released a software product I called Overdrive and that's our name go fast more efficiently. And it came from the automotive reference. Some of my first icons was an old Hearst stick shift because I'm from the era where the performance cars were manuals with a stick shift. So that's a history of overdrive. The automotive reference shift into Overdrive was a phrase we used when we were building. It was in the early ninety s. I got a call from Bill Gates who wanted to introduce a new product called Word 1.0 and I was invited up and Microsoft. Land bill became an early investor in Overdrive and we built Overdrive for Word because at the time he was trying to take market share from word perfect and Word star. And he assigned me to work with a young product manager at the time, Melinda French, who he wound up marrying. Melinda. French gates now. So, yeah, Overdrive comes from my car hobby and interest, and it's been a great name.

Jeffrey Stern [00:46:24]:

Wonderful. That's a fun story. Well, one of the things that we ask everyone who comes on the podcast is to share not necessarily their favorite thing in Cleveland, but for something that other people may not know about Cleveland, their hidden gems, if you will land. So with that, I will ask you, Steve, for your hidden gems here in Cleveland.

Steve Potash [00:46:47]:

Well, that's easy. If you haven't had a tour of the Cleveland Public Library downtown on Superior Avenue, you're missing out on one of the greatest treasures, not only in Cleveland, but in the nation. There are special collections or map rooms or chess collections. It's amazing how many folks have not taken a tour or self guided tour of the main Cleveland Public Library. There's two libraries. There's a stokes tower as well. And on the 10th floor you get amazing views of the lakeside. But the are so many wonderful library branches with Cleveland and Cuyahaga County Land, our surrounding counties. Ohio is blessed with some of the best libraries in the world by all systems, all ratings, nationally and internationally. So if you haven't had a tour of the Cleveland Public Library on Superior Avenue, you're missing an amazing treat. So that's my recommendation.

Jeffrey Stern [00:47:48]:

Yeah, I will second that one. The Cleveland Public Library. It really blew me away the first time I ever went. Just the breadth and incredible variety of things that they offer there is pretty extraordinary. Well, Steve, I really appreciate you coming on and sharing the story of Overdrive, and I am excited for your chapters ahead and how the world of reading may change and the impact that Overdrive is going to have in that. So thank you for coming on and telling your story.

Steve Potash [00:48:19]:

My pleasure, Jeff. Thank you. And to your listeners, support your local library. Appreciate it.

Jeffrey Stern [00:48:25]:

Absolutely. That's all for this week. Thank you for listening. We'd love to hear your thoughts on today's show. So if you have any feedback, please send over an email to Jeffrey at layoftheland.fm