Data-informed insights on public libraries and their impact on book discovery, author brand development, and sales


“If you’re a writer and you have the impulse to put down on paper something that will survive you, you are inextricably connected to what  a library means.”

—Susan Orlean (WD Interview, July/August 2019)

Public libraries in the United States have supported publishers, authors, and booksellers by connecting readers in their local communities with books for more than 200 years. Over the past 10 years, public library websites have helped millions of patrons discover new books every year—some they borrow from the library, some they buy from their preferred retailer.

While public libraries’ core mission of providing access to information for all is generally accepted as being a critical aspect of literacy and democracy, their impact on book sales—positive or negative—periodically comes into question.

In recent years, consumer research has confirmed that libraries remain an important driver of reading activity, and that borrowers are also buyers—but surveys can only tell half the story. Data can help tell the other half.


A cross-industry, collaborative research initiative dedicated to using data to measure the impact libraries have on developing readers, driving book discovery, and generating book sales in their local communities and beyond.

The project is led by Guy LeCharles Gonzalez and an advisory council which includes members from Penguin Random House, Sourcebooks, Open Road Media, American Library Association, Audio Publishers Association, Cuyahoga County Public Library, NISO, Rakuten OverDrive, and Ingram Content Group.

Initial funding is being provided by Rakuten OverDrive, Inc.

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