Growth of Digital Audiobook Lending Outpaces eBook Lending


CLEVELAND— 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.

Highlights 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 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.


About OverDrive
OverDrive is the leading digital distribution platform, supplying the industry’s largest catalog of eBooks, audiobooks, streaming video and periodicals to 34,000 libraries, schools and retailers worldwide. We support all major computers and devices, including iOS®, Android™, Chromebook™ and Kindle® (U.S. only). OverDrive delivers all digital media on a single platform, and offers innovations such as OverDrive Read, the breakthrough EPUB and HTML5 browser-based reading experience, and Read-Along eBooks.  Founded in 1986, OverDrive is based in Cleveland, Ohio USA and is owned by Tokyo-based Rakuten. For more information, visit or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and our blog.


David Burleigh

Director of Marketing & Communications

216-573-6886 ext. 218