New Findings Reaffirm Library Borrowers Are Also Buyers

Source: Information Today Inc. Newsletter NewsBreaks

An extensive online poll of library ebook readers finds that these patrons purchase an average of 3.2 books (both print and ebooks) each month, and a majority would consider purchasing books discovered on a library website. These ebook borrowers, who are at OverDrive-powered public library websites in the U.S., also report that their digital content purchases have increased in the past 6 months. Sponsored by OverDrive with the American Library Association’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP), the survey constitutes the largest study of library ebook usage to date, with more than 75,000 people responding.

Confirming earlier studies, such as the Pew Internet Project’s “Libraries, Patrons, and E-books,” the survey found that a significant percentage of library users regularly purchase books they first discover at the library. In fact, 57% of those surveyed said that the public library is their primary source of book discovery.

Library ebook borrower: Highlights

Public library is primary source of book discovery (57%)
Purchase average of 3.2 books per month (including print and ebooks)
Would consider purchasing books discovered on library website (53%)
Visit both the physical library and download ebooks (53%)
Digital book purchases have increased in past 6 months (44%)
Purchased book (print or ebook) after borrowing that title (35%)

Library ebook borrower: Demographics

Female (78%)
Adults aged 40-64 (55%)
Household income $75,000+ (48%)
College degree or higher (74%)

The survey also found that dedicated ebook reading devices—including Kindle, Sony Reader, and NOOK—were the devices most used to read ebooks from the library (8%). Desktop or laptop PCs (20%), smartphones (19%) and tablets (18%) rounded out the top four types, which reflects the rapidly escalating trend of borrowing on mobile devices recently reported by OverDrive. (In August, mobile devices accounted for 30% of checkouts and 34% of web traffic at OverDrive-powered library websites. Both statistics are up nearly 100% year-over-year.)

The survey took place between June 13 and July 31, 2012, at thousands of OverDrive-powered public library websites in the U.S., with 75,384 respondents completing all or part of the survey. The intent of the survey was to gain insight into the borrowing and buying behaviors of library ebook readers and is not representative of the U.S. population as a whole. To see the full survey data, visit OverDrive’s Digital Library Blog.

About Cheryl Ann Peltier-Davis

Cheryl Ann Peltier-Davis is Digital Initiatives, Cataloguing and Metadata Services Librarian at the Alma Jordan Library at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago.

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