A Week Full of Statistics: Pew On E-Books, Global E-book Usage and What Lending Does for Sales, OCLC Reports on Libraries: Your Weekly Libraries and E-Content News

April 6, 2012
Posted in: News

The Pew Internet and American Life Project released a report Wednesday on the increase in e-reading. Their study indicates that the number of American adults who have read an e-book increased from 17% in December 2011 to 21% in February 2012. Also included in the report is a breakdown of where e-book readers get their books (purchased online) and where they get recommendations (people they know). Several savvy observers have been quick to point out that the difficulty in getting e-books from libraries is a major reason why some prefer to purchase rather than borrow their e-books.

There is a great deal of useful information in this report that we didn’t formally have before. We recommend that you spend some time with it if you are keen to keep up with what is happening with libraries and the evolution of e-content. Having said that, it is admittedly a lot of information to process. Happily, for those wanting more of an overview, INFOdocket provides a great selection of highlights from the report that focus on libraries.

Again, the entire report is available on the Pew website. Just as an FYI, the Pew Internet and American Life Project is part of the larger Pew Internet Project that seeks to understand how the Internet affects children, families, schools and many other areas of our lives. Funding for the research comes from a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

ALA reacted to the Pew report almost immediately in the form of a fairly lengthy press release. In the document ALA seizes an opportunity to highlight some of the challenges libraries face in getting e-books and e-content to their patrons using existing systems and relationships. Kudos to ALA for acting quickly to offer important commentary and perspective as a high profile event like the release of the Pew study happened. Be sure to read their response here.

OCLC released a snapshot (.pdf format) of public libraries and their priorities. Surveying staff from member libraries, the study found that e-books rank in the top three priorities for libraries, just behind showing value to library funders and providing Internet access to the public. The survey also indicates that many library staff believe the future will bring more non-traditional branches, including library websites that serve as a key point of interaction for many patrons. Of initiatives taken on by libraries in the past year, procuring e-books accounted for 27%; other e-resources comprised an additional 10% of those projects. A similar report focusing on academic libraries is forthcoming.

The U.S., U.K., Australia and India lead the pack for e-book adoption, according to a report released by Bowker Market Research. In each of these countries, e-book adoption is at least 20% and growing. The report also includes demographics of e-book buyers by gender and age.

The importance that lending plays in finding authors, an activity that leads to higher sales, is evident from early data regarding Kindle’s lending library. Evidence shows that authors whose books are included in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library are more likely to see an increase in sales of their other books, even if they are also included in the lending library.

Contributing Editor Lindsay Barber writes our weekly e-content news posts along with contributions from the Library Renewal Editorial Team (incl. Colin Wilkins, Matt Weaver and Michael Porter).

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