Overdrive is reporting that public libraries digital catalogs are on pace for another record-breaking year for lending digital titles. Based on activities of top circulating public libraries, eBook, audiobook and digital magazine checkouts are on track to grow 30-40 percent for 2016 over the record levels achieved for 2015.
Trends and best practices that emerged from aggregated eBook and audiobook borrowing patterns of millions of readers’ hundreds of millions of sessions include:
- With a 30 percent increase in children’s digital books borrowed (Q1 2016 vs. Q1 2015), younger readers are increasingly embracing public library children’s and YA eBook collections. This is due to:
- Significant growth of catalogs of enhanced eBooks featuring rich graphics, synchronized narrated audio with highlighted text (Read-Alongs), and the addition of thousands of comics and graphic novels. OverDrive offers the largest collection of EPUB3 and HTML5 eBooks for library lending; and,
- Librarian-curated Kid’s & Teen’s eReading Rooms that create a safe, age-appropriate online reading destination for parents, teachers, and young readers to bookmark and visit often.
- Access to multiple eBook and audiobook lending models are enabling libraries to leverage content to maximize the number of readers served.
- Traditional Book Clubs have become extremely popular in the United States and now digital Book Clubs are starting to grow. Libraries are increasingly using their OverDrive platform to host and promote “eBook Reading Clubs” enabling dozens of “city read” or “one-book, one community” programs. For example, this month the entire city of London is reading Ten Days as part of CityRead London.
- Growing catalogs of simultaneous access titles for audiobooks, education, and nonfiction genres, including travel, enable “always available” collections to provide all readers with ready-to-borrow options.
- Libraries are benefiting from One Copy, One User model for popular and evergreen titles that amortize the cost of titles across multiple years of circulation.
- Self-published, indie authors, and non-English materials on the rise.
- With authors such as Vi Keeland, Penelope Ward, Deborah Bladon, and Tijan seeing their indie books reach theNew York Times digital bestseller list, independent author titles are growing at a 20 percent rate, and self-published eBooks are growing even more quickly – with 40 percent more titles being borrowed (Q1 2016 vs. Q1 2015).
- Spanish, Chinese, Russian, French, and other non-English readers are discovering the growing eBook and audiobook catalogs now available from OverDrive in their communities.
As digital circulation continues to soar, librarians are requesting more data to maximize their digital collection and development practices. OverDrive has developed tools such as OverDrive Insights, Data Reports and Smart Lists to help libraries serve entire communities and enhance the user experience. OverDrive Insights provides librarians real-time analytics on their collections and more reference points to manage budget and boost circulation. Smart Lists help insure must-have titles are automatically flagged for considerations under multiple criteria.
“This spike in library lending of eBooks, audiobooks, and streaming video is the result of the tremendous efforts of thousands of librarians, as well as significant ease-of-use improvements including seamless integration with library catalogs,” said Shannon Lichty, OverDrive’s Director of Partner Services. “We’re also seeing the effects of new access models publishers are offering through OverDrive, which have increased availability for readers.”
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 CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and Verge.