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Saturday Midday Links & Deals: Pew Study on library lending shows...


Pew did a study of digital library lending. The highlights include:


  • “12% of readers of e-books borrowed an e-book from the library in the past year. But a majority of Americans do not know that this service is provided by their local library.”
  • “E-book borrowers appreciate the selection of e-books at their local library, but they often encounter wait lists, unavailable titles, or incompatible file formats.”
  • “58% of Americans have a library card, and 69% say that their local library is important to them and their family.”
  • “Library card holders are more than twice as likely to have bought their most recent book than to have borrowed it from a library. Many e-book borrowers purchase e-books, too.”

It’s worthwhile to pay attention to what Mike Shatzkin says even if you don’t agree with him because some of the big 6 pay him for consulting advice. Thus, when he says publicly that publishers are doing the right thing by restricting access, it’s important because publishers are likely listening to him.

Some fascinating statistics from a survey of self published authors.  Some of the statistics compiled seem to contradict each other.  One thing I’ve learned is that all big time self publishing authors have one thing in common. Huge numbers of reviews/ratings on Amazon and Goodreads.  I’m heartened to see that increased earnings exist for those who put out a professional product. I guess the question is whether the 13% higher return is worth the investment.

  • The average Top Earner spent 69% more time writing than the average author outside of the Top Earners group. They write on average a third more words than their non-Top Earning counterparts, but they also spend an average of 24% more time on those words.
  • Respondents who’d had their work rejected by traditional publishing and then opted to self-publish it were among the lowest earners.
  • Self-publishing authors who went straight to publication without submitting their work to traditional publishers earned 2.5 times more than those who submitted it and got rejected.
  • Respondents who paid professionals for services like story-editing, copyediting and proofreading earned on average 13% more than those who didn’t. Hiring a professional cover designer earned them on average 18% more. Yet, not all paid-for services translate into a significant increase in earnings. Self-publishers who hired professional e-book formatters only saw average earnings of 1% more.


Sourcebooks Titles:

  • Marked by Elisabeth Naughton * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • My Unfair Lady by Kathryne Kennedy * $0.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Red’s Hot Cowboy by Carolyn Brown * $2.00 * A | BN | K | S
  • Merely Magic by Patricia Rice * $0.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Wild Sight by Loucinda McGary * $0.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Lessons in French by Laura Kinsale * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S

40% off these Hot Romance Titlesuse “romance40” from June 22 to July 6th.  Titles include:

  • Summer Days By Susan Mallery
  • Southern Comfort By Fern Michaels
  • Noelle By Diana Palmer
  • Unexpected Pleasures By Mary Wine
  • Big Sky Country By Linda Lael Miller
  • The Player By J. R. Ward
  • No Tan Lines By Kate Angell
  • Thriller 3: Love Is Murder By Sandra Brown
  • Afraid to Die By Lisa Jackson
  • The Summer of Us By Holly Chamberlin

A couple $.99 Carina Press titles:

  • Kilts & Kraken by Cindy Spencer Pape * $0.99 * A | BN | K | S | Are
  • Slow Summer Kisses by Shannon Stacey * $0.99 * A | BN | K | S | Are

Poisoned Press Ink is discounting various titles by Kerry Greenwood:

  • Kerry Greenwood * $0.99 * A | BN

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. becca
    Jun 23, 2012 @ 15:02:42

    Does Shatzkin ever tell the publishers something that they *don’t* want to hear?

  2. TFQ
    Jun 23, 2012 @ 15:13:51

    The thing that I find frustrating about Mike Shatzkin is that he’s so willing to base his arguments on speculation rather than data. The Pew study doesn’t provide nearly enough data to suggest that we who buy as well as borrow are buying BECAUSE we can’t borrow. And I have asked for but never gotten an answer from Mike on the question of why he and the publishers feel that ebook borrowing is so much more dangerous to publishers than print book borrowing. Although perhaps it’s just that they don’t think they could get away with restricting print access via libraries. In the comments on his most recent post there is a serious suggestion that there should be means-testing to restrict access to libraries to people who can’t afford to buy books…

  3. Annemarie
    Jun 23, 2012 @ 16:38:32

    Every time you post something library-related I am left baffled that publishers are convinced that my digital lending habits are going to be so vastly different than my traditional lending habits:

    1. I’d like something to read something but three authors I adore have books out next month so I don’t care to buy something unless I know it’s a keeper. Let’s see what’s available at the library.
    2. Looks good, I’ll try this book, and this book.
    3. That first one was crap. Return. I LOVE the second one. I think I’ll BUY two more books from the same author right now.

    Once again, if I can’t sample a new-to-me author before I buy, I just won’t buy.

  4. CG
    Jun 23, 2012 @ 17:12:15

    @TFQ: And I have asked for but never gotten an answer from Mike on the question of why he and the publishers feel that ebook borrowing is so much more dangerous to publishers than print book borrowing.

    From what I’ve heard, publishers fear ebook borrowing due to what they call a lack of “friction”. Friction being the ease of access to ebooks compared to print books. If you can borrow an ebook from your sofa for free, why would you bother purchasing it? Consequently they try to increase friction by delaying library release or limiting the number of copies and creating long wait times hoping you’ll buy instead of borrow.

    Shortsighted IMO, because I use my library for books I’m on the fence about and if it’s not available I’ll move on to the next book on my very long list. If I discover an author I adore at the library I usually go on to purchase his or her backlist and future releases.

  5. Edward
    Jun 23, 2012 @ 17:51:24

    Is it me but does it seem like the publishing industry is plainly hostile to libraries?

  6. cecilia
    Jun 23, 2012 @ 17:58:35

    What it seems to me more likely to mean is that the lack of library access to the most commercial titles forces those readers who care more about what they read than what they pay to purchase titles which the library doesn’t have (and which they probably “discovered” somewhere else.)”

    Or, it just means that people who prefer to read ebooks will suck it up and read the print copy that the library has.

  7. Sandra
    Jun 23, 2012 @ 18:22:46

    What it seems to me more likely to mean is that the lack of library access to the most commercial titles forces those readers who care more about what they read than what they pay to purchase titles which the library doesn’t have….

    In other words, it’s a way to hang on to those readers who don’t mind paying $12.99 for an e-book just to have the latest bestseller, because readers who refuse to pay that much aren’t going to buy anyway. So who cares about them?

    As long as publishers continue to base their bottom line on bestsellers, this is never going to change. One of these days — maybe — they’ll realize that they can make much more money by giving consumers what they really want. Or maybe they’ll just be obsolete.

  8. TFQ
    Jun 23, 2012 @ 18:32:15

    @CG: They need to do more research on why people borrow vs. buy. The wait times for print copies of front list books in my library system can be exceedingly long — there’s been many a time that a book came out in paperback before my name came up on the reserve list for the hardcover. If that didn’t drive me to buy the book, having to wait 6 months for the book to be available in e-book format isn’t going to do the trick either. Rather, what happens is that I move on to something else on my very long TBR list.

    Given that they know avid readers like to buy books as well as borrow, the publishers really ought to be trying to understand what gets something on the borrow list vs. the buy list, regardless of book format, so they can figure out what will really move a book from one to the other. (For me at least it has less to do with ease of access and more to do with the opportunity cost of buying a particular title.) What they are currently doing by restricting the ability to borrow e-books is pissing off interested but uncommitted readers who have an inclination to try a book out, missing the opportunity to get a book in someone’s hands while the buzz about the author is strong, and reducing the likelihood that readers will discover and fall in love with new-to-them authors.

  9. CG
    Jun 23, 2012 @ 18:50:17

    @TFQ: I know, right!? Sometimes I think the NY Publishers are entirely TSTL.

  10. Dani Alexander
    Jun 23, 2012 @ 19:18:27

    To answer your question, Jane, 13% was enough to pay for an additional editor for my second book. I’d say it definitely makes a difference. I’ll update when that book comes out and say whether two editors also upped the ante.

  11. Leslie
    Jun 23, 2012 @ 19:29:19

    It’s interesting that Overdrive is at this time doing a survey on these same issues. I saw it on Seattle, Los Angeles and Santa Monica’s library websites.

  12. Nadia Lee
    Jun 23, 2012 @ 22:06:03

    Don’t they know that if readers can’t get the books they want to try at the library (and there’s a reason why they want to try the library), they can always do something else instead? Like watching TV shows and movies, playing games, go on Facebook & Twitter or read blog posts, etc.? As in ANYTHING BUT READING A BOOK?

    By limiting access, all the pubs are doing is conditioning readers and would-be readers to do something other than reading a book for entertainment.

  13. sao
    Jun 24, 2012 @ 04:34:33

    You’d think publishers would be figuring out what they do (gatekeep, market, edit, publish, distribute) and how that would change in the digital era. Instead, yesterday I read an article in the New Yorker, where a publisher, I think it was Sargent of MacMillan? Stated that discovery happens in bricks and mortar bookstores, therefore, Bricks and Mortar bookstores have to be preserved to keep the book ecosystem going. Nowhere did he suggest figuring out how to help readers discover new books in the digital world could or should be done. Obviously there was no mention of Evil Amazon’s recommendation engine.

    Shatzkin sounds exactly the same. And it’s not as if a million other businesses haven’t died a largely unmourned death in the recent past. My town lost its two travel agents long before the bookstores disappeared. The music stores disappeared, first, too.

    Somehow, they seem to think books are unique cultural items, even though at one time CDs and LPs was how most of us consumed Beethoven and the Beach Boys.

  14. sao
    Jun 24, 2012 @ 04:39:58

    Actually, when I borrow a Kindle library book, Amazon promptly asks the next time I’m on line if I want to buy it or another by the same author. In short, it makes the following purchase frictionless, whereas for a print book, if I liked, but didn’t love the book, I’d have to remember to look for the author the next time I was in a bookstore, which frankly, is becoming less often, given the closing of the big box near my house. Unlike some commenters, I rarely love a book so much I need to run out and buy the next, so forgetting the author is not all that uncommon.

    Even if I don’t immediately buy the next book, with Amazon, I can put the book on my wish list. I don’t have to remember anything about the book I liked and I’m still reasonably likely to buy the next one, when I next buy a book.

  15. Sandra
    Jun 24, 2012 @ 11:25:08

    @sao: Somehow, they seem to think books are unique cultural items, even though at one time CDs and LPs was how most of us consumed Beethoven and the Beach Boys.

    When CDs began to supplant LPs (and more recently, DVDs over VHS tapes), the music/video houses didn’t try to suppress the new technology. With CD’s, supply couldn’t keep up with demand for the first few years [I was on a waiting list for Brothers in Arms for weeks], but that was due to insufficient manufacturing capacity, not record company unwillingness to sell. Once the supply channels opened up, the record companies found that consumers were more than willing to pay to replace LPs they already owned. There was a huge demand for backlist as well as frontlist titles.

    That’s part of what makes the publishers’ refusal to embrace new technology so incomprehensible to me. The Big 6 are part of media conglomerates that include record and video houses. Don’t these publishing CEO’s talk to their counterparts in the other divisions about how to change with the times? But then again, record companies never saw the retailer as their end user. The retailer was just the means to get the product into the end users’ hands. As long as the publishers continue to view brick and mortar stores as their end user, they’re never going to change. They’ll end up being buggy whip manufacturers looking for a place to sell a product nobody wants to buy.

  16. Lynnd
    Jun 24, 2012 @ 13:33:55

    @Nadia Lee: Exactly.

    The readers and commenters on this blog are not “typical” readers. I would guess that for many of us reading is as important as breathing or eating. For the vast majority of the population, reading is just one activity among many that they can choose and if publishers make getting reading material too difficult, they’ll just do something else. Given the state of the economy everywhere, one would think that publishers would be trying to encourage anything that gets people reading, but I guess there so busy in their little bubbles that they just don’t get the idea of developing a customer base from which to draw (after all readers really aren’t their customers).

    Do you think that if we all formed a company and charged the publishers hundreds of dollars per hour for our advice (like Shatzkin), they’d start listening to us?

  17. Wahoo Suze
    Jun 24, 2012 @ 13:57:24

    there is a serious suggestion that there should be means-testing to restrict access to libraries to people who can’t afford to buy books…


    Since when are libraries like food banks? They’re not a charity, they’re a foundation of civilization.

    And people who can afford to buy a car shouldn’t be allowed to rent one? And people who can afford to buy a condo shouldn’t be allowed to rent an apartment? And people who can afford to buy groceries shouldn’t be allowed to participate in a community garden?

    Lately, every time I read something uttered by somebody connected to publishers, it’s been a completely out-of-touch pile of crap. They seem to think that only they know how to do publishing, and that people who are successfully doing it without a “real publisher” behind them are just fooling themselves.

    Their interpretations of available data are baffling.

  18. eggs
    Jun 24, 2012 @ 20:06:00

    We don’t even have ebook lending here in Sydney, so it’s a non-issue to me but it just seems crazy that US publishers don’t want to at least make middle-grade through young adult available to lend. Those are the years when compulsive readers (i.e. life-long book buyers) are formed. Let a kid lend a couple hundred books and they will buy thousands over their life time.

    We often cite the “dinosaur mindset” of the publishing business as their reason for failing to embrace the full potential of ebooks, but I have to wonder if it’s actually a function of their being part of modern publicly traded media conglomerates. The executives (decision makers) get paid their salaries and bonuses based directly on how many sales they make this year. They get paid nothing based on how many future life-long customers they nourish. So from the decision maker’s point of view there is every personal incentive in the world to stop lending now for the sake of a few thousand extra sales this year. There is zero incentive for them to plan for their company’s future business in ten to twenty years time. This is the logical outcome of the modern corporate model when applied to publishing.

  19. Castiron
    Jun 25, 2012 @ 10:48:10

    @Edward: Which part of the publishing industry? The attitude of the typical university press towards libraries is vastly different from that of the Big 6.

  20. Susan
    Jun 25, 2012 @ 14:17:33

    @Edward: I’m beginning to think that the big pubs are hostile to readers in general, not just libraries. It’s OK w/ me that they think/act like the businesses they are rather than the guardians of literature, but they seem to be going out of their way to tick off their customer base–which isn’t good business.

    A library isn’t that much different from a radio station. People listen to the radio, hear free music that they like, and then buy that music for their collection. The music industry can be pretty stupid about some things, but even they get this marketing tool.

    @sao: This is a little different from your point, but when you finish an ebook you did download, Amazon recommends other similar works before you even close the book. In addition to the regular recommedations list and emailed recommendations, they’re always keeping you on the treadmill to buy/try new things. Not that I’m complaining–my point is that the more you read, the more opportunities there are to sell you yet more things to read. Why don’t pubs realize this and try to encourage more people to jump on the treadmill to start with so they can increase their base?

  21. Susan
    Jun 25, 2012 @ 14:25:18

    One of my favorite authors is a self-published author: Connie Suttle. Her books are well-written and relatively error-free (certainly no worse than books from a major publisher, and better than some). I checked her website and she does get outside proofreading/editing assistance. . . and it shows in the polished finished product. As a reader, this just makes me like her books even more. I wish more self-published authors would see the benefits of professional assistance.

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