There is a growing negative sentiment that when libraries loan out print or ebooks, that it cannibalizes retail sales. This is why Macmillan took the unprecedented step in only allowing libraries one digital copy of their new ebooks and embargoed additional copies until eight weeks later. Libraries and distributors such as Overdrive, Bibliotheca and Hoopa have publicly stated that this is horse shit. What publishers do not realize that there is a huge population of library users that end up purchasing the ebook.
OverDrive’s CEO Steve Potash responded to the assertions that libraries were impacting retail in a blog post, citing independent sources that prove that libraries have only a positive effect on retail sales.
Rebecca Miller wrote a recent column in Library Journal citing actual data that supports libraries’ positive impact on book sales. From the Journal’s Generational Reading Survey 2019:
- 42 percent of US adults surveyed reported that they had bought the same book they had previously borrowed from a library, a number that jumps to 60 percent among millennials.
- 70 percent reported that they had bought another book by an author whose other works they’d borrowed from a library, a number that jumps to 75.4, 76.1, and 77.2 for Gen X, Gen Z, and millennials, respectively.
Booknet Canada released their annual report, called Borrow, Buy, Read: Library Use and Book Buying in Canada, and found that “those who had both borrowed a book from a library and purchased one in the last year purchased an average of three books per month, whereas those who had purchased a book but said they never visit a library bought the least amount of books, with 2.6 purchases.”