University library spending habits revealed


University libraries are buying fewer books than before, according to a new report from the Ithaka S + R research service.

The “Library acquisition models“, released today, sheds new light on where university libraries buy print and digital books, what they buy and how much they spend.

Prior to the release of the data, the role of retail giant Amazon in library acquisitions was unknown, leading some observers to suggest that the data showing university libraries buying fewer books may be inaccurate.

The Ithaka S + R report, based on data from 154 U.S. universities, shows that Amazon plays a significant role in library acquisitions, but perhaps not as much as some suspected.

Amazon has proven to be the second largest supplier of printed books to university libraries, but far behind book supplier GOBI, which accounts for over 70% of sales of print books and 90% of e-books. Amazon has not proven to be a major supplier of eBooks.

Other findings of the report include:

  • The number of print books purchased by university libraries between 2014 and 2017 decreased, but the number of e-books increased. The increase in spending on e-books was not enough to compensate overall for the decrease in spending on printed books.
  • The average price of a digital book increased by 35% between 2014 and 2017, while the cost of printed books remained stable.
  • Libraries spent $ 3.61 million on information materials in 2017 on average and added 4,750 printed books and 345 e-books to their collections on an individual basis.
  • Libraries spent 42.6 percent of their printed book budgets on humanities titles. Social sciences were the most important field for eBooks, accounting for 32% of acquisitions.

“This project marks an important step in the development of a database of information on books, both print and electronic, in the university market,” said Joseph Esposito, publishing consultant and co-author of the report. . “Until now, all analysis has been done using high-level surveys and statistics, but the current project is the first public examination of the real information libraries use to manage their operations.”


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