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US Libraries Spend More on Audiobooks, DVDs than eBooks

Library8556682467_f650f29803_m[1] Journal released the results of a survey last week, and it revealed that ebooks don’t have nearly as large of a share of libraries' budgets as the one might assume from the press coverage.

The Materials Survey 2014 looks at what each library spends to acquire new content, and it’s based on voluntary participation from US public libraries. The survey group includes a diverse bunch of libraries with budgets ranging from $22,000 a year to $6.3 million a year which serve a broad range of populations from over a million people in a metro area to under 10,000.

The survey found that paper books made up an average of 59% of libraries' budgets, with DVDs (12%), audiobooks (8%), ebooks (7%), and other digital material (7%) making up most of the rest of the budget. The average materials budget was up 1.5% last year, and circulation was  up 2%.


As you can see in the infographic above, the survey also shows that ebook spending trended up and audiobook spending trended down as the size of libraries increased. The largest libraries were much more likely to offer downloadable movies, while the smallest libraries (those serving a population below 10,000) devoted a larger share of their acquisition budgets to paper books than larger libraries, averaging 73% spent on paper books vs an average of 59% for all libraries.

The smallest libraries were also the least likely to have an ebook collection, with only 2/3 reporting that they had ebooks they could lend (vs an average of over 90% of participating libraries). They also averaged a greater share spent on audiobooks, though with a difference of only a few percentage points this is less important.

In terns of long term trends spending on paper books held steady in 2013 at 59%, following a 7% drop over the past decade. eBook spending has increased over the past 5 years, especially over the past couple years where it averaged a 20% increase.

Library Journal

image by musescore

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Ebook Bargains UK March 10, 2014 um 4:57 am

Without a comparison of the cost of an average ebook compared to an average print book, audio book and DVD these numbers tell us very little.

Indies getting their ebooks into libraries through OverDrive, etc,will not be charging anywhere near what the Big 5 are charging, and what they are charging is presumably less than for a print or audio book, etc.

Nate Hoffelder March 10, 2014 um 8:12 am

I would bet that DVDs would tend to average a lower price than most ebooks in the library market.

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