The Panorama Project

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

America’s publishers, booksellers and public libraries have been working together to connect authors with readers since the first libraries were established in Colonial times. That’s over 200 years of successful collaboration developing and serving America’s readers. Surprisingly, there’s never been a comprehensive study on the impact of public libraries on book sales—until the Panorama Project, the first large scale, data-driven research project focused on understanding the impact of library holdings on book discovery, author brand development, and sales.

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This data-driven approach to understanding libraries and their impact on publishing is particularly timely. There’s fierce competition for every reader’s attention. The delight of getting lost in a book—print or digital—is increasingly difficult to sustain, now competing with easily accessed gaming, streaming video and other forms of digital entertainment at home and on the go. The book industry must develop new tools to better understand the dynamics of book discovery and sales, and to how to reach and grow new communities of readers.

Organized by publishers, booksellers, libraries, library service providers, authors, agents and key industry organizations, the Panorama Project is designed to track all forms of a work (physical and digital) aggregating and analyzing data from publishers, distributors, booksellers, public libraries, library service providers, search sites, social sites and other relevant data sources.

Research Goals

Our research goals will be focused on three areas: Discovery, Brand Development, and Sales. We hope to inform and provide insight on challenging questions such as:

Discovery

  • Do titles held in a high percentage of the country’s libraries have more visibility on search sites (such as Google and Bing) than titles held in a lower percentage of libraries?
  • Does the fact that today’s libraries hold copies of a title in multiple formats (print, ebook, audiobook) impact discovery on search sites?
  • Does the information contained in library catalogs (such as cover images, excerpts and reviews) help proliferate title information on discovery sites, social sites, and fan sites?

Brand Development

  • Do library holdings impact author brand awareness on social media sites such as Facebook and reader sites such as Goodreads and Shelf Awareness?
  • Do library holdings increase awareness of and sales of an author’s backlist titles?
  • Do library promotions of a title and/or author impact awareness and sales?

Sales

  • Do titles held in a high percentage of the country’s libraries have higher sales than titles held in a lower percentage of libraries?
  • Do authors who have a high percentage of their titles circulating in libraries have higher sales than authors with a low percentage of their titles in library circulation?
  • Does collaboration by a library (or library system) and local booksellers impact sales? If so how? And if the result is positive, are there best practices that can be replicated in other communities?

The project’s initial research will focus on the U.S. market, starting with print books and ebooks. Research activities may be expanded to other geographic markets and audiobooks (both physical and digital) at a later date.

Expected Deliverables

The project will strive to regularly produce white-papers and presentations that highlight its findings. All of the project’s research will be shared with member organizations; selected findings will be publicly shared.

The Panorama Project is an open membership initiative. Join us!