Research

Panorama Project Meeting at ALA Annual Draws Another Large Crowd

We drew another large crowd at the American Library Association Annual Conference in Washington, DC on June 23 for our one-hour session “Update from The Panorama Project: Addressing the Challenges for Library Digital Book Lending.”

Steve Potash, founder and CEO of Rakuten OverDrive, welcomed the 65-plus attendees and provided some background on the ideas and concerns that led to the creation of the Panorama Project over a year ago.

Sari Feldman (Executive Director, Cuyahoga County Library and former ALA President) delivered an update on critical issues regarding digital library lending, including recent changes in terms for digital use from two publishers. Sari called for all librarians to join the effort to gather and share data to show that “libraries build readership.”

Alexis Petric-Black (Senior Manager, Publisher Relations, Rakuten OverDrive) introduced Panorama Picks—our recently launched program that uses library demand data to reveal opportunities for booksellers, publishers, authors and libraries.

Sharon Bruni (Associate Director of Public Services, Mt. Lebanon Public Library) then presented the initial findings from the Project’s recent survey of Readers’ Advisory activities (see the session slides for details). The survey findings demonstrate the variety, volume and impact of library Readers’ Advisory activities on book/author discovery, brand development and sales.

Becky Spratford (librarian and founder of RA for All) closed the session with tips on how libraries can address the online and social media promotion opportunities surfaced in the initial survey results. Click here to read Becky’s blog post summarizing her talk. The post also includes lots of helpful links.

Click here to view and download the session slides.

Join Us at ALA Annual for an Update on Current Challenges for Library Digital Lending and a First Look at the Findings from our Readers Advisory Survey

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The Panorama Project is hosting a session at the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, June 23, from 1:00 - 2:00 PM (Room 152A at the Washington Conference Center)

  • Sari Feldman (Executive Director, Cuyahoga County Library and former ALA President) will provide an update on issues regarding digital library lending.

  • Sharon Bruni (Associate Director of Public Services, Mt. Lebanon Public Library) will present the initial findings from the Project’s recent survey of Readers’ Advisory activities.

  • Becky Spratford (librarian and founder of RA for All) will present tips on how libraries can address the online and social media promotion opportunities surfaced in the initial survey results.

  • Alexis Petric-Black (Senior Manager, Publisher Relations, Rakuten OverDrive) will present Panorama Picks, our recently launched program that uses library demand data to reveal opportunities for booksellers, publishers, authors and libraries.

It’s a packed session that will engage, inform and delight. We hope to see you there!

Community Reading Event Report Update

Last November we published our Community Reading Event Impact Report which presented our findings on the impact of the April 2018 Big Library Reads event on the sales of first-time author Jennifer McGaha’s Flat Broke with Two Goats (Sourcebooks, 2018). The report tracked sales of the book from its publication in January through May 2018. This post provides additional insight on the impact of the campaign over the remainder of 2018. The update is based on sales and marketing data generously provided by Sourcebooks.

While print and ebook sales declined following the community reading event in early April and Sourcebooks’ social media campaign in late April/early May, the publisher reported that the rate of decline was slower than usual for similar titles. Sales in June, July, and early August remained close to the pre-campaign sales levels the title established in March.

Ebook Unit Sales

In addition, the strong sales that the title enjoyed during the community reading event generated enough sustained interest to warrant two special ebook promotions--one in July and one in November. These promotions clearly impacted ebook sales (as seen below), but also correspond to increases in print sales during the same time periods.

Print Unit Sales

The July promotion drove sales volumes close to the peak volumes established during the community reading event. The November promotion drove another substantial lift. (Note that December ebook sales numbers were not available for this update.) Post-campaign ebook sales (May through November) stayed above pre-campaign levels.

We will be conducting additional community reading event studies throughout 2019.

First Panorama Project Research Report Released

Today the project is releasing its first research report. The project’s Community Reading Event Impact Report presents findings on the impact of a recent OverDrive Big Library Read (BLR) community reading campaign. First-time author Jennifer McGaha’s Flat Broke With Two Goats (Sourcebooks, 2018) was selected for the April 2018 public library ebook club event. The data analyzed by the project shows that the selection and promotion of the title for the April 2–16, 2018 event aligns with significant increases in associated social media activity and retail print/ebook sales.

Discovery Impact from the Campaign

  • 5.6 million page views globally of the ebook title details page in public library digital catalogs.

  • An increase in title’s Amazon Kindle sales rank—from below 200,000 prior to the library ebook club campaign to 7,833 at the close of the event.

Brand Development Impact from the Campaign

  • Over 13,000 Goodreads members added the title to their shelves during the campaign.

  • 400+ comments from readers, librarians, the author, and OverDrive forum moderator on the OverDrive moderated title discussion board.

  • 500+ mentions from libraries and readers across social media using #BigLibraryRead.

Retail Sales Impact from the Campaign

  • 818% growth in ebook sales from March to April, 2018.

  • 201% growth in print sales from March to April, 2018.

  • Sustained retail sales above pre-campaign (January–March 2018) volumes:

    • April–June 2018 ebook sales continued at 720% above pre-campaign volumes.

    • April–June 2018 print sales continued at 38% percent above pre-campaign volumes.

Data was aggregated from a number of sources to obtain the most holistic view possible of all library and retail sales activity (print and ebook) across multiple channels. The data sources include U.S. retail data from The NPD Group’s DecisionKey® retail book sales tracking service (formerly Bookscan™), U.S. public library ebook circulation data provided by OverDrive, and U.S. sales and marketing data from the publisher. In addition to sales data we have aggregated and incorporated promotional activities known to have been undertaken independently by OverDrive and Sourcebooks.

This is the first of several library impact research projects that we are working on. The report demonstrates how we are using library and retail data to develop a better understanding of the impact of the country’s public libraries on book discovery, author/brand development, and retail sales. We believe that the publication of this first report will serve as a catalyst for others in the publishing community to engage with the project. We are grateful for the contributions and support of Sourcebooks and the members of our Advisory Council—all of whom have provided insightful and helpful feedback.

View/Download the Report

View/Download the Media Alert

Readers’ Advisory Impact Committee Now Forming

The Panorama Project is organizing a Readers’ Advisory Impact Committee to research and document the wide variety of Reader’s Advisory services, activities, and title recommendations  provided by public libraries and librarians. The committee is open to interested libraries and librarians, as well as other industry professionals.

The committee will be investigating all forms of book, genre, series, and author recommendations and merchandising services/activities. These will include programs and activities inside public libraries, public meeting spaces, and community buildings. It will also include a growing list of online channels that readers encounter via library catalogs, reading apps, reading clubs, and social media platforms.

The committee will document and research both direct (one-to-one recommendations) and indirect (one-to-many) Readers' Advisory activities. These include in-library table and shelf displays, library catalog and website displays, reading lists (distributed in print and electronically), newsletters, podcasts, blog posts, author events and visits, and more.

Once compiled, the committee will measure and analyze the impact library Readers’ Advisory activities have on title/author discovery, brand development, and book sales.

The Readers' Advisory Impact Committee will be facilitated by Bill Kelly, Cindy Orr, and Magan Szwarek. The committee will begin holding regular teleconference calls in October.

Click here to learn more about the committee and facilitators

Click here to join the Reader’s Advisory Impact Committee

Update on Pilot Projects

The Panorama Project is running pilot projects ahead of its broader planned research initiatives. These projects are focused on important questions about the impact of library holdings on discovery, brand awareness, and sales. The pilot projects help us refine research methodologies, clarify technical and organizational requirements, and improve long-term planning.

Pilot project ideas come from our growing community of supporters, other members of the publishing industry, and the project Advisory Council. Each project idea is evaluated to assess its fit with the project’s broad objectives; other research projects underway; and the project’s current data, technical, and human resources.

To date, the pilot projects we are working on fall into one of two groups: the first tests the “organic” impact of library holdings outside the library. These projects look at what happens when a library adds a book to its catalog—how the mere presence of a book in the catalog and in circulation impacts discovery, brand awareness, and ultimately sales.

The second group tests “event driven” impacts—for example, the impact of author events at libraries, other promotional activity, and proactive collaboration between libraries and local retailers.

Current pilot projects

Below you will find high-level overviews of several pilot projects—more will be added. While we want to share what we are working on, we need to avoid disclosing information that might influence patron and/or consumer behavior. Detailed information on the source data, research methodologies, and findings will be available once the research is completed.

  • Mid-List Authors Study - This project (conducted in partnership with a leading publisher) is focused on understanding the organic impacts of library holdings on of mid-list authors and less well known books of commercially successful authors. We are comparing retail sales activity for a specific set of titles in areas with high and low library adoption of the titles.

  • Genre Study - This study is focused on understanding whether the organic impact of library holdings varies by genre. We have selected a group of metropolitan communities that have at least one sizeable independent bookseller and are examining library holdings and circulation patterns by genre and comparing the library data to the retail sales of those genres in the community.

  • Library Reading Events Study - This initiative is focused on understanding the impact of library driven community reading events (where a single book is promoted by the library for a short period of time, and supported with discussion groups and other sharing activities). Sales of the promoted author/title are tracked before, during, and after the event to determine impact of the library promotion on sales, and length of any measurable impact.

  • Library Author Events Study - This project is focused on understanding the impact of author events held at libraries. It involves a library in a major metropolitan area and the independent bookstore that facilitates retail sales at the author events selected for the study. A group of popular author events (both recent and upcoming) have been selected for research to understand the impact of those events on sales in the general geographic area, as well as sales at the library’s primary retail partner. We are looking at library activity and sales over a 6-month period surrounding the author event, including (when possible) sales of the author’s most recent book, as well as sales of the author’s earlier books.

  • Library/Book Seller Partnership Study - This study is focused on utilization of demand information from a library by an independent book seller to meet reader interests and drive sales. The study involves a library in a major metropolitan area and an independent bookstore with multiple outlets in the same community. The library has agreed to provide the book seller with a periodically updated list of the titles in their collection with the longest waitlists. The book seller will use this information to promote selected titles on the list. Those titles will be promoted in stores and online. We will then assess the sales impact of this collaboration over a period of approximately three months.

We will share updates on these projects and new research initiatives in upcoming posts.

Long-term research plans

The Panorama Project is focused on understanding the impact of library holdings on book discovery, author brand awareness, and sales. There is no single question—or even small group of questions—that will give us definitive insight into the impact of library holdings. That means the project’s long-term research questions will be similar to the pilot projects in many ways, but the scope and scale of the research data will be much different. Our goal is to build a data repository that contains an unprecedented breadth and depth of relevant data that will enable us to derive answers from a larger, more diverse data set that spans a longer period of time.

We welcome your questions and ideas. Please feel free to email us at info@panoramaproject.org.