eBooks continued to make a big splash last year in both the library and retail channels. Consumers are purchasing more than ever, and new research shows that many of those consumers are heading to booksellers following a visit to their local libraries. Undeniably, libraries have proven to be an invaluable source of discovery for books and authors.

According to Library Journal, regular public library users don’t just borrow books. “They are also active book buyers who make many of their purchasing decisions based on the authors or books they first discover in the library. In fact, over 50 percent of all library users go on to purchase books by an author they were introduced to in the library.” Indeed, the Digital Book Census states that more people are paying for eBooks. “Nearly two thirds (62.9%) of people say they have paid for an eBook, compared to less than half (46.9%) a year ago.” Now, OverDrive is making it even easier for library website visitors to purchase eBooks with the WIN Affiliates program, which allows for one-click access to national and independent booksellers directly from the library site.

Publishers are also making more sales to the library channel, as well. According to Library Journal’s study “Patron Profiles” (referred to on the The Digital Shift), libraries are meeting the increased demand for eBooks by creating more robust collections. “Public libraries increased their offerings by 185 percent. In turn, they also have dedicated more of their budgets to eBooks.” As Ruth Liebmann, Random House VP, said recently regarding the library channel: “A sale is a sale.” She even noted that libraries are a revenue stream that publishers like Random want to “protect, even grow.”

In addition to the direct sales that result from library websites, titles and authors are also receiving massive discovery via millions of impressions. How? Many library website visitors simply use the site for research and discovery. Based on recent data, OverDrive estimates that 60 percent of end-users did not check out a digital title, yet still visited 13 pages on average. In 2011, title impressions exceeded 1 billion, up from 700 million in 2010. And this will only grow with the launch of the ‘WIN Catalog’ (this week in pilot at a few select libraries) in which entire backlists will be searchable on library websites (with option to buy now through the WIN Affiliates Program). Check back for updates.

If you are already selling eBooks via retail channels, that’s a great first step. When considering other channels and promotional opportunities, include public libraries in your plans. For more information, contact pubinfo@overdrive.com now to reserve your spot.          

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