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Potash said that aggregate data from Over Drive indicates that library collections are always used for partly for browsing, sampling, and discovery.“We’ve known for fifteen years that for every individual who borrows and downloads an ebook, there are 50 sessions where [other patrons] are looking at the title without a borrow…. “If they are on a wait list, they don’t like to wait—especially if it’s a long wait list, which is common. They’re looking for what to read next, but want to [preview] a book” before borrowing or buying in print.Some people don’t even have a library card, but use library catalogs or apps to browse, Potash noted.”Noting that self-published ebooks now have the largest market share as measured by unit sales, the letter goes on to suggest that “Amazon dominates overall unit sale distribution.By revenue, the company ranks fifth in e Book sales and second in e Audiobook sales.We suspect that Amazon is using indie sales to lower pricing while deeply discounting higher priced larger publisher content, as noted here by ‘Amazon Ebook Dollars by Discount from Digital List Price.’ We wonder if Amazon, and not libraries, is the source of any decline you may be seeing.”Potash pointed to Amazon as well.
Although these losses have been offset by increases in audiobook and hardback sales, publishers will continue looking to shore up ebook sales, and librarians are certainly hoping that their institutions aren’t once again viewed as scapegoats.This clearly explains why big New York trade houses, when they look at their ebook retail sales flattening or declining, this is the cause.” The largest retailer of ebooks has introduced a massive influx of indie titles into the market, no one outside of Amazon has the sales data to determine the exact nature or scale of the impact that this is having on the broader ebook market, but one would assume that it is significant, according to Potash.The Panorama Project aims to bring more clarity to the role that libraries play in the publishing industry, tracking all physical and digital forms of a work and analyzing data from publishers, distributors, booksellers, libraries, search sites, social sites, and other sources.However, “we’ve always had some concerns about the impact that [library sales] might have on other channels.
We saw a lot of indicators…of some level of cannibalization in both print and digital from a variety of different channels.”As Foy noted, determining the impact that library ebook lending has on the overall sales of a title is difficult to track.“We tried to identify within Macmillan…a stable group of titles, where we could pull them out of the mix, briefly, [and learn whether] the overall sales patterns of those books would change at all,” he said.
Based on results Over Drive has measured following promotions like its Big Library Read events, Potash seems certain that the Panorama Project will help prove that libraries can have a positive impact on publisher sales.“There have been some dramatic success stories,” he said.