October 21, 2016

OverDrive’s Big Library Read Boosts Checkouts, Sales


The Four Corners of the SkyThe Four Corners of the Sky, the 2009 Michael Malone novel promoted during OverDrive’s Big Library Read ebook initiative, was checked out almost 24,000 times from May 15 through May 23, according to preliminary data provided by OverDrive and publisher Sourcebooks. The title’s position on Amazon’s Sales Rank charts also rose dramatically during the promotion’s first nine days, moving up more than 50,000 spots from 67,198 to 16,798. The program allows any participating library to feature The Four Corners of the Sky on its OverDrive home page and enable simultaneous access for all patrons from May 15 through June 1.

“We want to demonstrate once and for all the enormous influence of the library demographic, and that when libraries put an ebook in their catalog it serves a valuable role in increasing exposure and engagement with an author’s work,” Steve Potash, OverDrive’s CEO, told LJ when the project was first announced on May 3.

This preliminary data would seem to indicate that the project has been a success so far. Between 360,000 and 377,000 patrons visited their participating library’s OverDrive site each day on May 15 and 16, and about 9,000 of those visitors clicked through to the content detail page for The Four Corners of the Sky. The title was then checked out by 3,226 patrons on launch day, and 3,321 the following day. Checkouts then leveled off during the next week, holding steady between 2,400 to 2,600 per day. Ohio’s Cuyahoga County Public Library currently leads all participating systems with 1,113 total checkouts during the nine-day period, followed by the Oregon Digital Library Consortium with 583.


After peaking at 3,321 on May 16, the second day of the promotion, checkouts have leveled off, remaining in a consistent range between 2,400 to 2,600 per day.

About 7,500 public, academic, military, and school libraries are participating in the promotion—less than one-third of the global network served by OverDrive. Although several major library systems, including Toronto, Los Angeles, and Cleveland signed up for the program, many other major metropolitan library systems chose not to opt in, with most non-participating libraries declining due to a lack of lead time to prepare for the promotion, according to OverDrive Director of Marketing David Burleigh. Rollout is ongoing, and new libraries have continued to opt in since launch.

In an email to LJ, Burleigh wrote that other publishers have already expressed interest in working with OverDrive on similar projects, and indicated that, in the future, more lead time will likely be given for this type of promotion.

OverDrive will be sharing additional news regarding the Big Library Read project this week at BookExpo America (BEA) in New York.

Matt Enis About Matt Enis

Matt Enis (menis@mediasourceinc.com; @matthewenis on Twitter) is Associate Editor, Technology for Library Journal.