“It’s a global problem.”Potash said that the publishing industry has long been unaware of the outsized impact that libraries have on sales, because “prior to ebooks, even the publishers never knew which libraries bought their books or how many copies, because [library orders] were being fulfilled by the traditional wholesale distributors….
Authors and agents aren’t appreciating that libraries are spending hundreds of millions of dollars…in print and digital, which is contributing to their earnings.”In addition, publishers tend to focus too narrowly on hardcover retail sales, Potash argued. They don’t realize the lift for discovery and brand development that public libraries contribute to 24 hours a day through their online catalogs and through the 1.5 billion visits into their branches—and I’m just referring to the U.
Based on results Over Drive has measured following promotions like its Big Library Read events, Potash seems certain that the Panorama Project will help prove that libraries can have a positive impact on publisher sales.“There have been some dramatic success stories,” he said.
“When libraries recommend a title or select it—even for two weeks—for a digital book club, we can see the spike in sales ranking on Amazon for the digital book.
This spring, with initial funding from Rakuten Over Drive, the Panorama Project was launched as part of a data-driven effort to quantify “the impact of library holdings on book discovery, author brand development, and sales.” While Macmillan is participating in the Panorama Project, and may provide the organization with data from the Tor embargo test, library organizations questioned why the publisher couldn’t wait for the project to generate results.
In an official statement, American Library Association (ALA) President Loida Garcia-Febo said “I am dismayed…to see Tor bring forward a tired and unproven claim of library lending adversely affecting sales.
In a few cases where events or promotions were already scheduled for an author or title, exemptions from the embargo had been given on a case-by-case basis.This move undermines our shared commitment to readers and writers—particularly with no advance notice or discussion with libraries.” The test was “particularly unexpected and unwelcome,” she added, as it was announced “literally on the heels of Panorama’s launch.” Garcia-Febo called on Macmillan to end the test.Readers First, a global coalition of more than 300 libraries dedicated to enhancing library access to ebooks, posted an open letter to Tor/Macmillan questioning the embargo test, and arguing that consumer ebook sales trends have likely been impacted by the growth of self-publishing.“That the Sci-Fi/Fantasy e Book market may be changing, with a large growth in sales of indie [titles], is beyond doubt,” the letter reads.However, “we’ve always had some concerns about the impact that [library sales] might have on other channels.
We saw a lot of indicators…of some level of cannibalization in both print and digital from a variety of different channels.”As Foy noted, determining the impact that library ebook lending has on the overall sales of a title is difficult to track.“We tried to identify within Macmillan…a stable group of titles, where we could pull them out of the mix, briefly, [and learn whether] the overall sales patterns of those books would change at all,” he said.
S.”These were, in part, the arguments that ultimately helped persuade Big Five publishers such as Macmillan to begin licensing frontlist titles to libraries a few years ago.