One of the big bright spots of digital books this year was the massive role libraries have played. The ALA in conjunction with Overdrive has been relentless in their pursuits to convince major publishers that books were not devalued when loaned out for free. Their efforts have brought on the big 5 publishing companies in either pilot projects or nationwide rollouts. This has set a new record as six different libraries have each loaned out over a million books.
The King County Library in Washington loaned out the most books this year with a total number of 1.6 million books, which was a 25% increase from 2012. The market leader in Canada was the Toronto Public library that loaned out 1.5 million, which was a 68% increase from last year. New York, Hennepin County, Cleland Public and Seattle Public all loaned out between 1.1 and 1 million eBooks each.
Part of Toronto Public Library’s marketing strategy this year included advertisements in subway and bus stations as well as using their OverDrive Media Station as a demonstration tool in local malls. OverDrive Media Station is a touchscreen kiosk that displays the library’s digital catalog, where users can browse, sample, place holds and send titles to their device of choice.
“We’re thrilled that we’ve made the Million Checkouts Club this year and we’re adding more content daily,” said Jane Pype, Toronto’s City Librarian. “We expect interest to grow even more in the years to come, particularly since more publishers have made their titles available, and it’s our hope that this trend will continue. We’re looking forward to seeing what next year brings for our readers of eBooks at Toronto Public Library.”
The one commonality factor that all of these libraries have in common is their relationship with Overdrive. They are the current market leader in audiobooks, eBooks and video content. They have set the standard in digital distribution, not only in the US, but Canada, Ireland, UK, and Australia. One huge growth area is China, which they formed a tentative partnership with and have promised entry into that market in mid-2014.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.