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Sourcebooks, Overdrive launch pilot to demonstrate the impact of ebook library lending on sales

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Publisher Sourcebooks and digital library distributor Overdrive believe that ebook lending through libraries increases an author’s overall book sales and name recognition. Now they are setting out to try to prove it.

Sourcebooks and Overdrive are running a two-week pilot program called “Big Library Read.” From May 15 to June 1, Overdrive’s 35,000 library clients worldwide have the option to feature a Sourcebooks title, Michael Malone’s The Four Corners of the Sky, on their ebook lending homepage (at no charge to the library). As Library Journal reports:

“Sourcebooks, which has worldwide rights to the book, will chronicle the impact on sales not only for this particular title but also the effect on the other seven books that Malone has published with Sourcebooks. The Amazon rankings will also be monitored (as of today, Four Corners of the Sky had an Amazon Best Sellers Rank of 149,512).”

OverDrive will also track “how many patrons sampled the book, how many checked it out, how many pages were read, and will invite patrons to follow Malone on Facebook and Twitter in order to see how the pilot impacts the author’s social media presence.”

“It has always been an assumed ‘given’ that library support helped drive author success, both short- and long-term,” Sourcebooks CEO Dominique Raccah tells Library Journal. “Seeing if we can provide data around that assumption is fascinating.” Many publishers fear that making ebooks available to libraries will cut into paid book sales, so if the experiment shows increased sales for Malone, publishers could find the result reassuring.

Sourcebooks and Overdrive will present their findings from the program at Book Expo America in June.

6 Responses to “Sourcebooks, Overdrive launch pilot to demonstrate the impact of ebook library lending on sales”

  1. Matthias Ulmer

    Of cause there will be an impact on sales, if the book and the Overdrive-Experiment will be in the daily press during the test. I wonder if the test will be limited on the sales of the book or if it will be expanded to the sales of the eBook as well. Libraries do have a positive impact on book sales. It would be funny, if this impact get lost, just because people read eBooks instead of printed books. Publishers fear that libraries lending eBooks might have a negativ impact on the sales of eBooks. thats the question. Any statistics for that?

  2. David Thomas

    Its a start, but no insights will really be gained unless there is a completely comparable book that is not given the option, and a higher demand (familiar author?) title also not given the option. They also need to come forward with their methodology — “social presence” is a vague term and there are several ways to measure it. I love the experimental approach, though proving a direct link between library downloads and sales is a challenge. They should try to coordinate with hiptype to measure the program’s market penetration, too.

  3. The future of e-book profitability for authors is to mimic iTunes with songs and make books individually cheaper so that people have no reason to breach copyright. Whereas now x number of people download a book, if the same book was 1/10 the price, you would easily sell 9 more books and I suspect that in fact e-book sales for a good author would easily exceed 10 times what they sell now.

  4. The key to the e-book industry will be multi-stage copyright protection. A unified, secure and intelligent software platform solution that protects the author and the distributor from unauthorized duplication. Is there such a software config out there? Gee, I wonder.