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Multiple sources are reporting today on this newly released survey (PDF) on the buying habits of library e-book borrowers. The survey questioned over 75,000 e-book borrowers, and found that more than half of them buy books, too. It also found that dedicated reading devices still account for a significant chunk of the market. (The survey was sponsored by OverDrive, with the ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy.)

I am delighted to see these survey results confirm what I have known to be true from my own habits. Book reading is not a zero-sum game with a final ‘winner’ (and corresponding losers) in terms of format, source, media and so on.

People are diverse individuals. Some of my books, I prefer in paper. Some of my books are indie. Some are from big publishers. Some are borrowed from the library, and some are purchased. It all depends.

I do tend to favor the library for the DRM-laced stuff these days. Most of my purchases this year have been from Delphi Classics, Humble Bundle and other DRM-free sources. I buy from Amazon as well, if I’m on the go and won’t be able to download from my computer, as OverDrive requires.

Either way, my library usage has not stopped me from being a regular book buyer, too.


From OverDrive’s Digital Library Blog:

“With more than 75,000 respondents, the survey constitutes the largest study of library eBook usage to date. The findings echo those of earlier studies, such as the Pew Internet Project’s “Libraries, Patrons, and E-books,” revealing that a significant percentage of library users regularly purchase books they first discover at the library. In the OverDrive-ALA survey, 57 percent of respondents said that the public library is their primary source of book discovery.”

Key Findings

♦ Public library is primary source of book discovery for 57 percent of respondents
♦ Library patrons purchase average of 3.2 books per month (including print and e-books)
♦ Patrons’ digital book purchases have increased in past six months (44%)
♦ 35 percent of respondents have purchased a book (print or e-book) after borrowing that title
♦ Nearly half (48 percent) of respondents report household income greater than $75,000

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