May 13, 2013

What will the “Big Library Read” reveal about the potential for ebook marketing in libraries?


The “Big Library Read” will take place from May 15th to June 1st, and will encourage library patrons the same eBook title at the same time and to demonstrate the influence library patrons can have.

At the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting in January 2013, Eric Hellman, the founder of GlueJar, a start-up devoted to relicensing ebooks under the Creative Commons license, presented an idea to the ALA’s Working Group on Digital Content and Libraries committee.

What would happen if we had a program where one book a month was selected and promoted around the country by all sorts of libraries under attractive financial and licensing terms [from the publisher], and we get lots of people everywhere reading the same book for a month?

Helmann’s suggestion at the meeting had a broader implication for the relationship between book discovery and ebook availablity at libraries. “What would happen to the market for that book?” he asked, according to a DCWG report on the Digital Shift.

Starting on May 15th, Sourcebooks and OverDrive will test this suggestion. In a two-week program they are calling the “Big Library Read,” a single Sourcebooks title, Four Corners of the Sky by Michael Malone, will be available for free on the OverDrive home page. Libraries are encouraged to provide the book to patrons with a free MARC record, which “will track how many patrons sampled the book, how many checked it out, how many pages were read, and will invite patrons to follow Malone on Facebook and Twitter in order to see how the pilot impacts the author’s social media presence,” according to the Library Journal.

At a time when libraries and publishers are working out lending, licensing, and financial models, this experiment might be able to demonstrate how libraries have an effect on the marketing of a book and discovery of new titles for patrons. “It has always been an assumed ‘given’ that library support helped drive author success, both short- and long-term. Seeing if we can provide data around that assumption is fascinating,” said Dominique Raccah, the CEO of Sourcebooks.

OverDrive and Sourcebooks will present the results of the initiative at BookExpo America at the end of May.



Claire Kelley is a the former Director of Library and Academic Marketing.