As a writer, I think in terms of getting words on the page and telling the stories. But I also realize that being aware of what’s going on in the business is important, especially since it seems to be changing so rapidly. One area that has been discussed a lot by authors is how e-books fit into the library system.
Michael Kozlowski’s article Digital Library Trends for 2015 has some interesting information. The report quotes a report by Library Journal that 95% of all U.S. Libraries have e-book collections, which is up from 89%. The number of e-books in medium size libraries is around 10,434 titles.
In the United Kingdom, e-books are doing well under a sustainable model established by the government, libraries, and major publishers. The pilot program initiated in 4 UK libraries in March 2014 increased a loan period to 21 days and included some front-list titles. This resulted in increased lending but found that customers were not purchasing the e-books when offered those through a “buy me” button.
Mr. Kozlowski’s article contemplates audiobooks being the next “big thing.” In 2007, there was 3,073 audiobook titles produced. Contrast this with 35,000 in 2014. The global audiobook industry is currently worth about $2.6 billion. These books are currently more in demand due to libraries embracing them. It is helpful that the same companies are providing audiobooks that are also providing e-books. In 2015, it is anticipated that audiobooks will play a greater role since CDs and tapes are no longer economically viable. In addition, new streaming solutions are also going to help, as this will allow for access to these books through alternative operating systems on mobile devices.
Another development is in the digital newspapers and magazine content area. Not only are the latest issues available but also back issues. This is partly attributable to libraries installing tablets and e-readers in branches. The San Francisco Public Library has a new e-news center in their main branch and is expanding this into the Chinatown and North Beach branches.
In addition, some libraries are now digitizing magazines and newspapers through their own process. The Brooklyn Public Library has initiated this process and is making them available to the public, via their online portal. The Queens Library system has developed its own proprietary app. This, among other features, offers library patrons access to audio books, magazines and e-books.
Mr. Kozlowski’s article states that more libraries will offer their e-book collections to residents outside their service area. This will be done by charging non-residents a fee of $50-$75 a year to help offset the libraries digital investment and provides an alternative revenue stream.
There are additional details in the article and I am sure that this will continue to evolve and develop. But I was most interested in some of the innovations at the library level that will impact our industry. I am curious what others are finding. Is your library adding more titles to their e-book list?