An article in Good E Reader asks Will People Buy Audiobooks and Ebooks from Walmart?

From the article:

“E-Book sales have been flat for past few years and print is still king. [6]87.2 million print books were sold last year, up from 674.1 million in 2016. The increase follows a 3.3% increase in 2016. Units have risen every year since 2013, and 2017 sales were up 10.8% from that year.

The digital audiobook and ebook industry desperately needs new sales channels to fuel growth. Amazon has dominated the US market for over a decade. Will Walmart be the golden goose that publishers have been waiting for?”

Last month, PW reported print sales were up to 687 million (confirming the missing 6 in the Good E Reader article), with increases in both hardcover and trade and retail outlets selling ever more and mass merchants less.

While this is what’s going on in private sales, our OverDrive usage continues to reach new highs. The dashboard for January shows circulation reaching almost 150k, and, even more exciting, an upswing in unique users to 23,662, over 20% higher than this time last year.  There seems to be a bump every January, probably reflecting new users taking advantage of holiday gift devices (?)  If deals like this Kobo Wal-Mart push and similar introduce more people in more areas to ebooks, will demand for ebooks rise from any source and overall format preferences change, or is there an inverse relationship and library use is rising in part because of customer resistance to direct purchases?  In these still early days there definitely seems to be a disconnect.



Jim ran across this article in Fortune discussing a new feature to locate eBooks in your area public libraries. He and I have gotten this to work for titles that are available and have a knowledge graph, where the borrow location search occurs toward the bottom (see below).  Zandra also got this to work for a couple of titles that are OUT, namely Star Trek Voyager A Pocket Full of Lies and Hawkins’ latest Into the Water (but The Girl on the Train, no, hm).  In those cases Google takes you to the right OverDrive site to place the hold, but not in a lot of others.  She also noticed that some titles don’t show up unless you include the author. From the article:


The list of libraries with available ebooks will appear as part of Google’s “Knowledge Graph” cards, the boxed-off sections that appear either above or next to the regular list of search results, which already offered information on searched-for books, such as a description of the book, the author’s name, GoodReads ratings, and options for purchasing an ebook.


Jim retrieved Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air and I did this with Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton, which happened to be available when we searched.


Amazon Imprints Impress?

August 30, 2017

An article by Jane Friedman (9 Statistics Writers Should Know about Amazon) contains some interesting stats and presents the case that print books’ recent “resurgence” is simply about price, while Amazon is responsible for much of that and increases in ebooks as well.  The Audible explosion (doubling 2014-16!) is also impressive but not surprising given how many new bestselling titles are available exclusively as audible files long before they get to eAudio or books on cd.  Fortunately, more and more people have caught on to the unfortunate fact that an Audible edition does not necessarily mean any other audio edition is forthcoming. This used to be a common tantalizing pitfall in RINCs, or maybe you all are catching them right away.

Amazon now boasts several imprints putting out original trade paperbacks and some classic reprints. It has taken on some eye-catching popular names like Marcia Clark, Carolyn Brown and Rachel Caine, newly published or “poached.” The range of output seems serious, too, including science fiction (47North), romance (Montlake Romance), thrillers (Thomas & Mercer), literary fiction and serious non-fiction (Little A) and even translations and international writers (Amazon Encore and Amazon Crossing), among several others.  While we are trying to take a look at most of these as they approach publication, I’m still holding off on many of them unless the author has a track record.  It’s still nice to keep an eye on it as some authors are perpetually requested, while the circulation of collected titles is a bit hit and miss.  Let me know if customers expect more proactive selection or if this approach seems right for now.

Sorry no ARC’s this time but a sample:

Snap Judgment Snap Judgment by Marcia Clark. Summary: When the daughter of prominent civil litigator Graham Hutchins is found with her throat slashed, the woman’s spurned ex-boyfriend seems the likely suspect. But only days later, the young man dies in what appears to be a suicide. Or was it? Now authorities are faced with a possible new crime. And their person of interest is Hutchins. After all, avenging the death of his daughter is the perfect reason to kill. If he’s as innocent as he claims, only one lawyer has what it takes to prove it: his friend and colleague Samantha Brinkman. It’s Sam’s obligation to trust her new client. Yet the deeper she digs on his behalf, the more entangled she becomes in a thicket of family secrets, past betrayals, and multiple motives for murder. To win her case, she’s prepared to bend any law and cross any boundary that stands in her way. Sam has always played by her own rules, and it’s always worked … so far. But this case cuts so deep and so personal that one false move could cost her everything.



The Queen's Poisoner

The Queen’s Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler.  Summary: “King Severn Argentine’s fearsome reputation precedes him: usurper of the throne, killer of rightful heirs, ruthless punisher of traitors. Attempting to depose him, the Duke of Kiskaddon gambles… and loses. Now the duke must atone by handing over his young son, Owen, as the king’s hostage. And should his loyalty falter again, the boy will pay with his life” — back cover.




The Barefoot SummerThe Barefoot Summer by Carolyn Brown. Summary: “Leaving one widow behind is unfortunate. Leaving three widows behind is just plain despicable. Oil heiress Kate Steele knew her not-so-dearly departed husband was a con man, but she’s shocked that Conrad racked up two more wives without divorcing her first. The only remnant of their miserable marriage she plans to keep is their lakeside cabin in Bootleg, Texas. Unfortunately, she’s not the only woman with that idea. Fiery, strong-willed Jamie wishes Conrad were still alive—so she could kill the scoundrel herself. But for their daughter’s sake, she needs that property. As does Amanda—twenty-eight, pregnant, and still weeping over the loss of her true love. On a broiling July day, all three arrive in Bootleg…with a dogged detective right behind who’s convinced that at least one of them conspired to commit murder. One momentous summer filled with revelations, quirky neighbors, and barefoot evenings on the porch offers three women the chance to make the journey from enemies to friends, and claim a bright, new beginning.”–Cover, page 4.

An online article by Gavin Craig referenced in PW Daily this morning (The Video Game That Shows Us What the E-Book Could Have Been) makes a point about how ebooks could be far more enhanced compared to the print book than they are, and why they are not.  From the article:

A printed book is one of the first technologies many children learn how to use, but it’s still a technology, and once we’ve mastered it most of us don’t appreciate being asked to figure out how to read all over again. This one of the reasons why books that experiment with form, whether digital or print, tend to sell rather poorly. No matter how radical the content, we are conservative about the structure of our reading.

If ebooks evolved eventually along the lines of this game, they would truly be a unique derivative work and customer experience, a true separate format and perhaps a fun little challenge for the new RDA cataloging. Interesting experiments, like Jodi Picoult’s Mermaid enovella referenced in an earlier post, keep popping up.  Time will tell if something really takes off.

A report from AAP says in 2016 trade sales were up 1.5% with religion, children’s/teen, and non-fiction leading the way.  From the PW article:

E-book sales fell for the third straight year in 2016, down 16.9% to $2.26 billion. E-books remained the most popular format in adult fiction, where they accounted for 33% of sales, the AAP reported.

As for downloadable audio, sales rose 19.7%. Downloadable audio sales were put at $643 million by the AAP, more than double the 2012 figure.

How does this compare with our recent lending figures?  Growth in downloadable audio sales definitely gels with lending increases, while the contraction of ebook sales is not reflected in library lending.  The July OverDrive dashboard indicates a new record last month (though not quite the month before), with circulation figures vacillating month-to-month and bumping up to new highs rather than rocketing. Here they are:


For me DDA (Demand Driven Acquisition in OverDrive), and the Polaris records we load to accompany it, have become an increasingly valuable source of information on local demand for print titles as well. That’s especially true for debuts and small print authors where I really feel on the fence.  If you remember our Patron Driven Acquisition pilot, the idea of floating titles out there and collecting customer holds before committing to actual orders was a key part of the experiment, engaging readers in selection while tailoring resources tightly, in line with our values and core services.  It is interesting that DDA is performing much the same service as a total side effect of another project and purpose.

A good example is Ed McDonald’s dark fantasy debut Blackwing, which though it still lacks an official review and is from a hit and miss genre imprint, already has a 3 month prepub hold on the ebook, perhaps tipping the decision to try a few print copies.

On the other hand, there’s Canadian author William Deverell, whose latest title from his acclaimed Arthur Deverell mystery series is a reluctant pass.  The prior six titles we do not own in print.  The one ebook title we own (I’ll See You in My Dreams – #5) is the only to slip through in OverDrive and has circulated a few times in the last 6 months.  That doesn’t make picking up the whole series in print too urgent, and there really are different audience preferences in these formats.  Especially true of romance, fantasy and non-fiction categories that may have a “shy customer” issue in public buildings, a lot of types of successful ebooks never get picked up in print and perhaps don’t need to be, or at least not right now.

  McDonald, Ed. Blackwing. Ace, October 2017. 

Blackwing  Summary:                 

Set on a post-apocalyptic frontier, Blackwing is a gritty fantasy debut about a man’s desperate battle to survive his own dark destiny…








Klassen, Julie. The Ladies of Ivy Cottage. Bethany House, December 5th, 2017 (already has 12 holds on ebook!)

book cover of 

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage

Publisher Summary: 

In the confines of Ivy Cottage, friendships thrive, romances blossom, and mysteries await! Gentlewoman Rachel Ashford has moved into Ivy Cottage with the two Miss Groves, where she discovers mysteries hidden among her books. Together with her one-time love Sir Timothy, she searches for answers–and is forced to face her true feelings.






 Deverell, William. Whipped. ECW, October 2017. 

book cover of Whipped


This week Jodi Picoult published an e-short with multimedia images called Mermaid with Amazon’s Kindle in Motion. See the Entertainment Weekly description with sample pictures here.

Exclusive, teasing short works, sometimes available only digitally, pop up periodically.  No, right now this isn’t available for purchase in OverDrive.  It will be interesting to see how these multimedia books fare in the future. Here’s the Amazon link that has mixed personal reviews so far, one indicating that the moving pictures were distracting though the story was solid.  Good thing James Patterson of BookShots is a conscious library advocate!

Thumbnail scroll view image - 1 for Mermaid [Kindle in Motion] (Kindle Single)