22 March 2012

ListenUp!Vermont Facts and Figures


To follow up our post last week about library e-books and GMLC, I want to share a few fun facts about our collection and how it is currently being used. I am happy to post such information on a regular basis if you find it illuminating and/or useful.

Here are some statistics gleaned from ContentReserve about ListenUp!Vermont's collection of e-books and audios:

Total # of purchased e-books in the collection: 1979
Total # of purchased audios in the collection: 1460
(Note that this does not include the Always Available titles)

Total # of unique patrons checking out titles: 17,343 (current: 1153)
Total # of checkouts to date: 132,009 (current: 1884)

Total # of checkouts for February 2012: 6219
Of those, # of e-books: 3102; # of audiobooks: 3117

For eye-popping comparison,
Total  # of checkouts for February 2010: 1746
Ttotal # of checkouts for February 2011: 3209
(And no, I don't think this leap year accounts for the jump! :)

# of titles added in February 2012: 61 (not all unique titles, some are additional titles of ones already purchased, to meet demand)

Top 5 Checkouts Overall for February 2012
Caleb's Crossing, Brooks (audio)
Comfort Food, Jacobs (audio)
Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky (audio)
Explosive Eighteen, Evanovich (audio)
First Drop of Crimson, Frost (audio)

Top 5 E-book Checkouts for February 2012
The Litigators, Grisham
Explosive Eighteen, Evanovich
The Next Always, Roberts
The Help, Stockett
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Larsson

These lists are not the entire story, however. We need to take into consideration the number of holds a book has to determine its popularity and importance to the collection as well. Thus,

Top 5 Holds Overall for February 2012
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Foer (e-book)
Hunger Games, Collins (audio)
The Drop, Connelly (audio)
Mockingjay, Collins (audio)
The Anatomist's Apprentice, Harris (audio)

In response to high demand for specific content, the ListenUp!Vermont coordinator determines which titles to buy in multiple and which to leave at a single copy. This is determined by a highly unscientific algorithm of price, genre, author, and gut feeling. For instance, We have been able to purchase 5 copies of the audio version of Hunger Games because of its phenomenal popularity. (I don't know about you, but my adult patrons seem to be just discovering the series and are checking it out with more frequency than the teens now.) With the unexpected demand for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (due in part to the movie, I suspect, and maybe to its being assigned in high schools), we were able to be proactive and purchase 6 copies, because they are available from Houghton Mifflin for a mere $14.95 a pop.

We have been less able to meet demand on books like Susan Cain's nonfiction title Quiet because Random House is charging $78.00 per e-book and $74.00 per audio. It is difficult to predict how long the interest will remain on a title like this and how much ought to be invested. As of today, we own one e-book and two audio versions of the book. Today, there are 18 holds on the e-book and 2 on the audio. Tricky, right?

And then there are the publishers we've mentioned who are selling only single copies of popular books like Patterson's Don't Blink, which currently has 20 holds. Hachette Digital will not sell more than one copy to libraries. As Mary has emphasized, letting the publishers know how this impacts your library is important.

The longest waits are for Kindle users, simply because of the ubiquity of the device. There are more Kindle users overall. It might be helpful for you to remind your Kindle users that they can return content early by going to their Amazon account>Kindle>Manage Your Kindle>Your Kindle Library>Actions. That could have a positive impact on the wait periods.

I would encourage you to look frequently at your ContentReserve account at Overdrive (let me know if you need login information) and see what your library's statistics are. Communicate with your patrons about what's popular, what's new, and what's available. My experience is that many eager patrons are not fully adept at how to work the ListenUp! site to thier best advantage--e.g., searching for only currently available titles to reduce frustration, joining wait lists even if the number of holds is intimidating (many people cancel their holds and the queue moves along faster than you would guess), and considering a different format for the same title, if they have the technology.

I hope you have found this helpful. If there are other facts or numbers you're curious about, leave me a comment and I will respond as quickly as I can.

~Judy Russell
ListenUp!Vermont Coordinator
Director, Fairlee Public Library

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