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.

Panorama Project Open Meeting Draws a Crowd at ALA Midwinter

Our open meeting at ALA Midwinter in Seattle drew quite a crowd—75 people joined us for an update on the project and a preview of our 2019 research plans. The session began with Steve Potash (Founder & CEO, Rakuten OverDrive) speaking about the ongoing need for objective data that can help educate the publishing community on the valuable work libraries do to connect readers with books and authors. Cliff Guren (Panorama Project lead) then recapped the project’s accomplishments over the past 10 months and gave an update (posted here) on the 2018 sales of Flat Broke with Two Goats, the title highlighted in the project‘s recently published Community Reading Event Impact Report.

Cliff then introduced a new initiative called Panorama Picks. This project uses aggregated, anonymized library ebook demand data to surface titles beyond the current bestseller list in high demand at public libraries. The project will compile lists of in demand adult and young-adult fiction and non-fiction titles on a quarterly basis. The lists will be shared with booksellers at no cost to help raise the visibility of the titles and promote sales. More information on Panorama Picks will be posted closer to the target launch date in late March.

The focus then turned to Readers’ Advisory. Magan Szwarek (Director of Reference Services at the Schaumburg, Illinois Township District Library and Readers‘ Advisory Impact Committee co-chair) introduced the committee’s first work product. The Directory of Readers’ Advisory Activities catalogs the many services, programs, and marketing campaigns that public libraries and librarians, use to connect readers with books and authors. This first of its kind publication is the work of a committee of over 40 librarians and industry professional convened in fall 2018 by the Panorama Project. The full directory and a quick guide to Readers’ Advisory are available for download. You can also browse an online version of the full directory. The committee invites readers to share their feedback and submit additional activities, examples and useful links.

We were delighted to see that our open meeting was one of the sessions highlighted in Publishers Weekly’s show summary.

Learn more about the Readers’ Advisory Impact Committee and the Directory of Readers’ Advisory Activities

View/download our media alert on the publication of the directory (PDF)

View/download the session presentation (PDF)

Panorama Project “Directory of Readers’ Advisory Activities” Now Available

The Panorama Project Readers’ Advisory Impact Committee (RAIC) has published its first work product. The committee’s Directory of Readers’ Advisory Activities catalogs the many services, programs, and marketing campaigns that 16,000-plus U.S. public libraries and over 45,000 public librarians use to connect readers with books and authors. This first of its kind publication is the work of a committee of over 40 librarians and industry professional convened in fall 2018 by the Panorama Project. The RAIC introduced the directory at the Panorama Project’s open meeting at the American Library Association’s Midwinter conference. The full directory and a quick guide to Readers’ Advisory are available for download. You can also browse an online version of the full directory. The committee invites readers to share their feedback and submit additional activities, examples and useful links.

The directory provides descriptions and examples for 16 book/author recommendation services and activities. They include librarian-to-patron activities such as in-person conversations and recommendations, and library-to-community activities such as reading groups and book clubs, newsletters, author events, and a wide range of social media activities and virtual displays. The committee will continue cataloging Readers’ Advisory activities and reference examples. Updates will be published on a regular basis. Next, the committee will be surveying the country’s public libraries to determine which advisory activities are most prevalent and measure the effectiveness of the most widely adopted activities.

The Panorama Project convened the RAIC to research and document the wide variety of Readers’ Advisory services, activities, and title recommendations provided by public libraries and librarians. The committee is co-chaired by Bill Kelly (Adult Programming Manager, Cuyahoga County Public Library), Cindy Orr (Digital Collection Advisor, OverDrive), and Magan Swarek (Director of Reference Services, Schaumburg Township District Library).

Learn more about the Panorama Project Reader’s Advisory Impact Committee.

Panorama Project to Hold Open Meeting at ALA Midwinter


The Panorama Project is holding an open meeting at ALA Midwinter—the project’s first gathering at an ALA event!

Date: Saturday, January 26, 2019

Time: 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM

Location: Washington State Convention Center (705 Pike St., Seattle, WA 98101), Conference Room 3B

The agenda for the meeting will include:

  • An introduction to the project by Cliff Guren, Project Lead, including a review of the project’s progress to date and an update on its research plans for 2019.

  • Magan Szwarek, Reference Services Director for Schaumberg Township District Library, and co-chair for the Readers’ Advisory Impact Committee, introducing the committee’s newly compiled Directory of Readers’ Advisory Activities.

  • A review of the data and findings in the project’s recently published community reading event report which examined the impact of nationwide library reading campaign on the discovery, social media mentions, and sales of first time author Jennifer McGaha’s Flat Broke with Two Goats.

All interested publishing community stakeholders—librarians, publishers, booksellers, authors, industry service providers, industry organizations, and others—are invited to join us for this unique opportunity to learn about and discuss the project’s research on the many ways that libraries connect readers with books and authors.

Refreshments will be served.

Please RSVP if you plan on attending the meeting. 

If you can’t attend the meeting, but would like to arrange a time at ALA Midwinter to learn about the project please email us.

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

Another Industry Leader Has Joined Our Advisory Council

We are delighted to announce another addition to our Advisory Council: Michele Cobb, Executive Director of the Audio Publishers Association (APA).

Michele has served on the Audio Publishers Association (APA) board as a director and officer since 2001, and is currently the association’s Executive Director. She is a frequent speaker at events worldwide on audio publishing. As a partner at Forte Business Consulting, she provides PR, Sales, Marketing and Business Development services for the publishing industry, and is Publisher of both AudioFile Magazine and MMB Media, as well as the Audio Publishing Director for L.A. Theatre Works.

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

Additions to the Project Advisory Council

We are pleased to announce two additions to our Advisory Council:

  • Libby Jordan: Executive Director, Partnerships and Specialty Markets, Open Road Integrated Media

    Libby Jordan has been been in publishing for close to three decades—beginning with The Hearst Corporation’s magazine division and, soon thereafter, escaping into the magical world of commercial fiction at Dell/Delacorte (now a division of Penguin Random House) where she oversaw marketing for authors including Danielle Steel, John Grisham, Elmore Leonard, Maeve Binchy, and more. Over the years, Libby has held executive sales, marketing, and training positions with large publishers, independent presses, and a tech start-up or two. She founded a small digital marketing and design firm dedicated to training and educating authors in the effective use of social media and, in her spare time, serves as the director of the Book Division for NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute where, each summer, she works with 100+ recent college graduates looking for their first jobs in publishing. Libby is also, not so secretly, in love with the library reading app Libby, and will wax rhapsodic about it for hours on end. Ask anyone.

  • Dominique Raccah: Publisher and CEO, Sourcebooks

    Dominique Raccah is the entrepreneurial Publisher and CEO of Sourcebooks, the company she founded from her home in 1987. Dominique has lead a continuously growing, pioneering general book publishing house that proudly produces everything from adult and teen fiction, to top titles in children’s books, to baby names and college guides. Sourcebooks is the largest woman-owned book publisher in the country as well as the largest trade book publisher in Chicago. Dominique has been widely recognized as a leader in innovation in book publishing, being named Publishers Weekly Person of the Year in 2016. An inspiring and passionate presenter, Dominique speaks internationally on innovation, the future of book publishing and entrepreneurship, and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Entrepreneur, The Chicago Tribune, NPR, and The New York Times.

September Pilot Project Update

This post provides an update on the pilot projects we introduced last month.

  • Mid-List Authors Study - We are redesigning and refocusing this study. The updated research plan will include mid-list titles from several publishers, but will not include less well known titles from commercially successful authors. We believe that this more diverse, but more tightly focused test title group will yield more broadly applicable insights.

  • Genre Study - We are gathering data for this study and fine-tuning our research methodology. We expect to begin our formal research in a few weeks.

  • Library Reading Events Study - Our research and analysis for this study is done; we are writing our report. We will be sharing our findings later this fall.

  • Library Author Events Study - We are in the final stages of our data gathering and cleaning for this study. We will be exploring and analyzing the data this fall, with the goal of issuing a report by the end of the year.

  • Library/Book Seller Partnership Study - We are working with our current partners to refine our processes for collecting, organizing, and sharing library data. We are also recruiting additional library and retail partners for this study.

The project team is also researching the viability of several new studies, including a project focused on understanding the impact of library Readers’ Advisory activities.

We will share more on these new initiatives in upcoming posts.

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