The year-long pilot study on Remote e-Lending in the UK is complete, and the official statement on the main findings is out.  The good news is that the study confirmed the demand for eBook lending, and more significantly, that there was no negative impact on publishers’, authors’ and booksellers’ businesses.  OverDrive has drawn similar conclusions from studies and programs over the past several years.

This pilot study was conducted by The Publishers Association, Society of Chief Librarians, Booksellers Association, Society of Authors and the Association of Authors Agents, with the goal to help stakeholders better understand the impact of remote eBook lending in UK public libraries.  While it was a small sample size (four library authorities, eBook checkouts accounted for 5% of fiction borrowing), there was no evidence that the pilot damaged eBook sales.  The pilot found that very few users clicked the “buy” button next to the pilot titles, but that eBook borrowers actually bought more eBooks than did other library users.

OverDrive was instrumental in helping to facilitate the study, as three of the four library authorities in the pilot currently work with OverDrive as their main eBook supplier, and this conclusion supports other programs and studies we have produced over the past several years.  Since Steve Potash testified before the House of Commons in favor of eBook lending in October 2012, OverDrive has worked with ALA and partners libraries in the U.S. to demonstrate how libraries enhance discoverability and engagement of published materials.  Our survey jointly conducted with the ALA in 2012 found that “borrowers are also buyers,” and the Big Library Read, a recurring program in which a single eBook title is made available for simultaneous use across thousands of library websites, continually reinforces this point as well:  libraries boost sales.

We know in the U.S. and other markets that publishers have become more confident in making their titles available for e-lending.  Through the broad exposure libraries can provide, publishers gain valuable awareness and engagement with their titles.  In addition, OverDrive introduced eBook and audiobook “samples” to provide easy-to-consume excerpts and further expand engagement, and other innovations such as read-in-browser and Readbox (placing the samples on search engine Bing and book review sites such as Huffington Post and Buzzfeed) have expanded the reach of the library to raise even more awareness and engagement.

All publishers – in the UK and worldwide – are invited to join the OverDrive catalog to connect with readers via libraries and schools.  For free promotion, discoverability and engagement that leads to additional sales, libraries offer a unique value proposition that has become even more valuable in today’s competitive digital environment.