June 20, 2024

OverDrive Data Shows Majority Still Like To Browse the Virtual Shelves


OverDrive released its first “Big Data” report at the London Book Fair, a snapshot of the library ebook platform’s March traffic. In that single month, more than 5 million visitors viewed 146 million pages in 12.6 million visits to OverDrive’s digital catalog, the company reported. On average, more than 408,000 visitors each day viewed 11.6 pages and browsed the site for 9 minutes 34 seconds on average.

Visitors to OverDrive’s catalog generated more than 630 million ebook cover impressions, of which the top 30 titles garnered more than 21 million views. Ebooks topping one million views each include Explosive Eighteen, The Help, The Litigators, and, not surprisingly, The Hunger Games. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Game of Thrones, and Harry Potter series also appear among the top ebooks viewed and put on hold. Top audiobook holds include The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay.

Nearly 60 percent of readers browsed public library ebook collections to discover new content, rather than searching for a specific title. Among those, romance was the most popular genre, followed by all fiction, mystery and suspense, historical fiction, and science fiction and fantasy.

Ebook browsing is an evening activity, evidently: Visitors are most active from 8-9 p.m. in their respective regions, followed by the 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. windows. As to how they’re browsing, nearly half (49 percent) sign on from Windows computers. But iOS, the operating system for iPhones, iPads, and other Apple portable devices, came in second with an impressive 28 percent, more than doubling the share for Mac computers (13 percent), and blowing Android, at 5 percent, out of the water.

Though OverDrive boasted visitors from 219 countries, the vast majority hail from North America, with 86 percent in the United States and another 10 percent in Canada. The top market areas include New York, Seattle, Philadelphia, Chicago and LA.

Michael Lovett, an OverDrive spokesperson, told LJ, “This report gives a sample overview of the type of data we’re collecting, and we’ll customize future reports to meet the individual needs of our library and publisher partners.”

Meredith Schwartz About Meredith Schwartz

Meredith Schwartz (mschwartz@mediasourceinc.com) is Senior Editor, News and Features of Library Journal.


  1. Robert Buckley says:

    I hope this does not sound too negative. I really have a hard time believing these statistics. OverDrive has claimed downloads from 219 countries during March. The UN does not get that type of participation in a decade. And according to them, there are 193 countries. Supposedly there are only 196 countries. And I don’t see North Korea, Chad and The Congo downloading from their local public library. I don’t believe any of these numbers and I doubt the publishers do. They have their own numbers and they are not sharing them. These vendors are a bit full of it.

  2. Could it be that people are browsing because searching in Overdrive is pretty terrible. Not to mention the collection is pretty limited. How many people attempted a search and came back with terrible results? Or the book they search for was unavailable?

  3. I agree with Melissa. The only way to find anything available for check in my public library’s shared collection is by browsing. If I search, it’s either not there or has a huge waiting list. I suppose I should be glad the titles are getting used…