OverDrive Academic reports growth in fiction and nonfiction genres across the board; comics and manga drive largest gains


CHARLESTON, S.C. – November 1, 2022 – In the face of challenges brought about by virtual learning and decreasing enrollment, academic libraries are increasingly finding digital books as essential to engaging students. With an emphasis on convenience and cost-effectiveness, academic libraries’ circulation of ebooks and digital audiobooks through OverDrive Academic has increased nearly 20 percent in 2022 while the number of users has grown 17 percent. Attendees of the 2022 Charleston Conference can learn more about this trend from November 1-4 at the OverDrive Academic booth #78.

OverDrive Academic is a division of OverDrive that supplies ebooks, audiobooks and other digital content to hundreds of two- and four-year colleges and universities worldwide. Its award-winning Libby reading app is used by millions of readers around the globe.

“With external forces exerting downward pressure on academic libraries’ enrollment and budgets, we’re seeing hundreds of colleges expanding their digital offerings in the library,” said Steve Rosato, Manager of OverDrive Academic. “In addition to digital books supporting classes, leisure reading is also on the rise in all subjects, with a particular spike in comics and graphic novels.”

Ellice Yager, Librarian for Northeast Mississippi Community College, believes in expanding the depth of digital offerings for students. “To us, I would say supporting the whole student is not just supporting them academically but supporting them to be successful in other areas of their lives.”

Most popular nonfiction genres in digital books, 2022 (North American academic libraries):

  1. Biography & Autobiography
  2. Self-Help / Personal Growth
  3. Psychology
  4. Business & Economics / Leadership
  5. Religion
  6. Business / Motivational
  7. Social Sciences
  8. Business / Organizational Behavior
  9. Ethnic Studies
  10. History / 20th Century U.S.

Most popular fiction genres in digital books, 2022 (North American academic libraries):

  1. Literary Fiction
  2. Contemporary Women
  3. Thrillers / Suspense
  4. Historical Fiction
  5. Classics
  6. Coming of Age
  7. Romance
  8. Fantasy
  9. Action & Adventure
  10. Science Fiction

Most popular nonfiction ebooks borrowed from academic libraries in 2022:

  1. Questions & Answers series by various authors
  2. A Lawyer Writes by Christine Coughlin
  3. An Advocate Persuades by Joan Malmud Rocklin
  4. Understanding Property Law by John G. Sprankling
  5. Understanding Criminal Law by Joshua Dressler

Most popular fiction ebooks borrowed from academic libraries in 2022:

  1. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  2. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  3. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  4. The Girl in His Shadow by Audrey Blake (featured Big Library Read title in July 2022)
  5. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Most popular audiobooks borrowed from academic libraries in 2022:

  1. Atomic Habits by James Clear
  2. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  3. Dune by Frank Herbert
  4. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  5. Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Most popular digital comic books borrowed from academic libraries in 2022:

  1. Heartstopper series by Alice Oseman
  2. White Sand series by Brandon Sanderson
  3. Renegades by Marissa Meyer
  4. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
  5. Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

In 2022, North American academic libraries have experienced skyrocketing growth of comics, graphic novels and manga. Usage of these digital reading materials from OverDrive Academic is up 126 percent year-over-year.

To better understand academic libraries’ use of digital books and how it’s changed since 2020, OverDrive Academic commissioned a follow up study with Choice, a publishing unit of the Association of College and Research Libraries. In “The State of Ebooks in Academic Libraries,” data shows the vast majority of academic libraries currently include ebooks and digital audiobooks in their collections. While curriculum support continues to be the dominant element in ebook collection development, survey results indicate that non-curriculum-based ebooks are a growing portion of academic library digital collections especially popular fiction/nonfiction. The study will be shared via Choice’s website and social media over the next months.

At the Charleston Conference from November 1-4, OverDrive is meeting with academic librarians and educators to support their digital collections. To schedule a meeting, email 2022CVS@overdrive.com or stop by booth #78.

Learn more about OverDrive Academic and the Libby app.


About OverDrive Academic – a division of OverDrive

OverDrive Academic offers the industry’s largest catalog of ebooks and audiobooks for hundreds of two- and four-year colleges and universities worldwide. With the Libby reading app, named one of Popular Mechanics’ 20 Best Apps of the Decade, OverDrive Academic helps support academic objectives with educational and popular digital books. Founded in 1986, OverDrive – the leading digital reading platform for libraries and schools – and OverDrive Academic are based in Cleveland, Ohio USA. OverDrive recently acquired Kanopy, the leading streaming video service for public libraries and academic institutions. https://company.overdrive.com/academic-libraries/

David Burleigh
Director of Brand Marketing & Communications