January 5, 2016 Last Updated 9:12 am

Overdrive says 2015 was ‘banner year’ for growth in digital books and periodicals in libraries

The company offers local and corporate libraries eBook services, as well as digital magazines and newspapers through its partnership with Barnes & Noble’s NOOK platform

For the past two years or so, I have been pointing out that while magazine digital edition circulation has been stagnant (or even declining), and eBooks sales have been either falling (if you believe the major publishers) or else growing more slowly (when you take into account Amazon and self-publishing), something else has also been going on: library systems are moving toward digital collections.

Today, Overdrive, one of those companies that sells its services to local libraries, reported that it had a “banner year” – with digital books titles borrowed from its clients growing over 24 percent.

It must be admitted that growth, seen as a percentage, can be deceptive. After all, if you were not a client in 2014, then were in 2015, growth will be rather large, right? Nonetheless, it is nice to see some numbers come from Overdrive – numbers we can refer back to when the inevitable “print is back” story appears claiming that eBooks are dead (hard to believe they write those with a straight face).

Overdrive, by the way, also mentions digital magazines and newspaper, a service they introduced in late 2014. The company is partnering with Barnes & Noble’s NOOK to deliver these periodicals. Overdrive’s competitor in the library field, RBdigital (Recorded Books), is working with Zinio to deliver periodicals to library patrons.

Here is Overdrive’s announcement concerning 2015 growth:

CLEVELAND, OH – January 5, 2016 – 2015 was a banner year for libraries with record numbers of readers turning to their local library to borrow and download popular eBooks and audiobooks. OverDrive, the industry leader for digital book lending serving over 90 percent of the nation’s libraries, reports that in 2015 readers borrowed more than 169 million digital books. This is an increase of 24 percent over 2014 with a notable surge in audiobooks usage, which achieved a faster growth rate than eBook library borrowing.

Overdrive-feature-300Highlights of record-setting growth from the OverDrive network of lending libraries for 2015 include:

  • Total digital titles borrowed from libraries & schools: 169 million (+24% over 2014)
    • eBook circulation: 125 million (+19% growth over 2014)
    • Digital audiobook circulation: 43 million (+36% growth over 2014)
    • Streaming video circulation (+83% over 2014)
    • Introduced in late 2014, the circulation of digital magazines and newspapers also grew significantly in 2015
  • 33 library systems circulated 1 million or greater digital books during 2015
  • Reader visits to OverDrive-powered library & school websites: 750 million (+14% increase from 2014)

“This past year was a breakthrough year for libraries offering their readers anytime, anywhere access to their digital catalogs,” said Shannon Lichty, Director of Partner Services at OverDrive. “eBooks and audiobooks are serving more kids, young adults, travelers, students and readers of all genres of books than ever through innovative tools and expanded digital catalogs that our library partners offer.”

Helping drive digital book circulation at libraries are new tools offered to librarians, including “OverDrive Insights,” real-time analytics on digital book usage that enables libraries to customize and curate their collections to meet the demands of their audiences. This combined with a greater catalog of available eBooks from thousands of publishers and the success of OverDrive Read-Alongs (professional narrated audio synced to the words on the page using industry-standard EPUB3) and OverDrive Listen (instant streaming for audiobooks from a library catalog or the OverDrive app).

OverDrive’s industry-leading global catalog offers content in 50 languages from more than 5,000 and over 3.3 million titles. The most popular eBooks and audiobooks of 2015 borrowed from libraries (based on checkouts + holds):

Top eBooks borrowed from libraries

  1. The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins (Penguin Publishing Group)
  2. All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr (Scribner)
  3. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn (Crown/Archetype)
  4. The Martian, Andy Weir (Crown/Archetype)
  5. Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee (HarperCollins)

Top digital audiobooks borrowed from libraries

  1. The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins (Books on Tape)
  2. All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr (Simon & Schuster Audio)
  3. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn (Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group)
  4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rowling (Pottermore)
  5. Yes Please, Amy Poehler (HarperCollins)

Top digital books borrowed from libraries in other categories:

Adult nonfiction eBookUnbroken, Laura Hillenbrand (Random House Publishing Group). Children/YA fiction eBookThe Maze Runner, James Dashner (Random House Children’s books).

Children/YA nonfiction eBookBrown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson (Penguin Young Readers Group).

Children/young adult fiction audiobookHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rowling (Pottermore)

Read-Along eBooksScaredy Squirrel at Night, Mélanie Watt (Kids Can Press Ltd.)

To find the nearest digital library collection, visit www.OverDrive.com. This data, plus demonstrations of OverDrive’s latest service features and innovations, will be on display at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting (booth 1653) in Boston, January 8-11, 2015.

Comments are closed.