OverDrive released its lists of the most-downloaded e-books from libraries in December 2011. These lists look pretty different from the current New York Times e-book bestseller lists. Here’s why, plus a few interesting tidbits.
All of the lists are here. Here’s the top-ten adult fiction downloaded list for December 2011. OverDrive’s lists include not just books that were actually borrowed in December but also books that are on waiting lists, and as anyone who’s tried to check out an e-book from a library knows, the waiting lists can be quite long. (I added the original publication dates, which may not correspond with the date the e-book was released.)
1. The Help, Kathryn Stockett (Penguin). Months on list: 15 (pub date: February 10, 2009)
2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson (Random House). Months on list: 15 (pub date: September 16, 2008)
3. Explosive Eighteen, Janet Evanovich (Random House). Months on list: 2 (pub date: November 22, 2011)
4. The Litigators, John Grisham (Random House). Months on list: 2 (pub date: October 25, 2011)
5. Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen (Algonquin). Months on list: 13 (pub date: May 26, 2006)
6. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Stieg Larsson (Random House). Months on list: 15 (pub date: May 25, 2010)
7. The Next Always, Nora Roberts (Penguin). Months on list: 2 (pub date: November 1, 2011)
8. The Girl Who Played with Fire, Stieg Larsson (Random House). Months on list: 15 (pub date: July 28, 2009)
9. A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin (Random House). Months on list: 9 (pub date: August 1, 1996)
10. 1Q84, Haruki Murakami (Random House). Months on list: 2 (pub date: October 25, 2011)
And here’s the adult fiction New York Times (NYSE: NYT) e-book bestseller list for the week ending December 24, 2011:
1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson (Random House)
2. The Help, Kathryn Stockett (Penguin)
3. The Litigators, John Grisham (Random House)
4. Kill Alex Cross, James Patterson (Hachette)
5. 11/22/63, Stephen King (Simon & Schuster)
6. The Drop, Michael Connelly (Hachette)
7. Red Mist, Patricia Cornwell (Penguin)
8. D.C. Dead, Stuart Woods (Penguin)
9. Locked On, Tom Clancy (Penguin)
10. Explosive Eighteen, Janet Evanovich (Random House)
— Penguin pulled new e-books from libraries in November. I am not sure how Nora Roberts’ The Next Always, which was published on November 1, escaped being pulled. The other new Penguin titles that made the NYT list, like Red Mist, are not available for borrowing as e-books in libraries.
Penguin Media Relations Manager Erica Glass tells me, “That title was made available before Penguin’s policy with OverDrive was changed.”
— The only big-six publishers that make their e-books available to libraries are Random House, Penguin (though new titles are no longer available) and HarperCollins (which only allows an e-book to be borrowed 26 times before the library has to purchase a new copy). This means Random House and Penguin dominate OverDrive’s most-downloaded list, with just one other publisher–Algonquin–on it. The NYT top-ten list is more varied by publisher, though it still only consists of books from four of the big-six publishers.
— Publishers are not restricting downloadable audiobooks in libraries in the same way that they are restricting e-books. OverDrive’s list of the most-downloaded audiobooks in December includes Kill Alex Cross and The Drop (both Hachette, which doesn’t license e-books to libraries) and Red Mist (Penguin, can’t be borrowed as an e-book).
— If Random House starts restricting e-book borrowing in libraries (it’s said it’s “reviewing” its policy), OverDrive’s most-downloaded e-book list is going to look very different as library patrons will be able to find way fewer new e-books to read. Right now all the newest books on that list are published by Random House, with the mysterious exception of The Next Always mentioned above.
— No self-published titles here.