America’s favorite ebook and audiobook distributor OverDrive has announced its 2016 Digital Library Trends report ahead of its airing at the 2016 Public Library Association (PLA) Conference. And OverDrive predicts that: “public libraries’ digital catalogs are on pace for another record-breaking year for lending digital titles.”
The predicted rate of ebook lending growth is in fact pretty dramatic. According to OverDrive, “based on the activities of 50 top circulating public libraries for Q1 (Jan. 1, 2016 – March 31, 2016), eBook, audiobook, and digital magazine checkouts through OverDrive are on track to grow 30-40 percent for 2016 over the record levels achieved for 2015.”
OverDrive highlights other key trends, including: “With a 30 percent increase in children’s digital books borrowed (Q1 2016 vs. Q1 2015), younger readers are increasingly embracing public library children’s and YA eBook collections”; “access to multiple eBook and audiobook lending models are enabling libraries to leverage content to maximize the number of readers served”; and “self-published, indie authors, and non-English materials on the rise.” In fact, it’s a very healthy period for the latter, as “independent author titles are growing at a 20 percent rate, and self-published eBooks are growing even more quickly – with 40 percent more titles being borrowed (Q1 2016 vs. Q1 2015).”
But of course, it’s the raw growth in library ebook uptake that is the standout conclusion. “This spike in library lending of eBooks, audiobooks, and streaming video is the result of the tremendous efforts of thousands of librarians, as well as significant ease-of-use improvements including seamless integration with library catalogs,” said Shannon Lichty, OverDrive’s Director of Partner Services, in the OverDrive announcement. “We’re also seeing the effects of new access models publishers are offering through OverDrive, which have increased availability for readers.”
Naturally, it’s in OverDrive’s interest to talk up its game. However, there seems little reason to doubt their figures. U.S. library ebook services are apparently booming.