The number of e-books borrowed from public libraries may be growing at a fast clip, but the number of library patrons doing the borrowing may not.
According to a survey conducted last summer by e-book provider OverDrive in conjunction with the American Library Association, some 30 million e-books were loaned to users through public libraries in the second quarter of 2015, representing a 19% jump over the same period in 2014.
However, a new survey by the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) revealed that just 25% of library patrons had downloaded an e-book from the library in the previous 12 months, according to a report in Publishers Weekly. That indicates a minority of library users are generating most of the e-book traffic.
In fact, the patrons who got one or more e-books from their local library would have liked to obtain more, but were often stymied. They said the titles they wanted weren’t available in e-book formats, were on an e-book waiting list, or could only be borrowed for a period too short to complete the book.
In the BISG survey, 44% of library patrons reported reading an e-book in the previous year, far more than had borrowed an e-book. That jibes with librarians’ contention that there is pent-up demand for e-book loans, provided they have popular titles on hand.
And it’s not the mobile device-toting younger generation that’s borrowing e-books. In OverDrive’s survey, only 5% of respondents were less than 25 years of age while 52% were more than 54 years old.