Why It’s Time to Quantify the Library’s Role in the Reading Marketplace is a post by Guy LeCharles Gonzalez appearing in Publishers Weekly in which he argues “that everyone would benefit from a collaborative, good-faith, and transparent effort to effectively measure the impact of libraries on book discovery, author brand development, and consumer sales…”
“Practically every modern author’s origin story includes a cherished memory of a library. Few question the public library’s value as an important discovery channel, both in print and digital, especially in the thousands of communities across the United States without local booksellers.
The same is true for publishers. Publishers depend on library pre-orders to help establish initial print runs ahead of publication. And once books are published, library-hosted author events and community reading campaigns have been shown to drive consumer sales. Many publishers even have full-time staff dedicated to marketing their books directly to librarians.
There is no question that public librarians themselves are unparalleled, often unheralded influencers, helping readers to discover books and authors through a plethora of in-person and online readers’ advisory services, regardless of publication date or bestseller list status. And yet, despite all these tangible, measurable activities and a well of consumer research that consistently shows library patrons are also book buyers, there are still some publishers who continue to view library lending, in any format, with a cynical eye. Why?
Most stakeholders would agree: better data about the library’s role in the reading marketplace would be enormously useful. True, the inherent complexity of aggregating and analyzing the many sources of data needed to measure the impact of libraries is challenging—there’s data from publishers and wholesalers, booksellers and libraries, and various industry organizations with overlapping and sometimes competing agendas. And there is the ever-present silent elephant in every room: Amazon.
But the challenge is by no means insurmountable, if only publishers were to deem it a priority…”
(Click here if you are interested in reading the entire article.)
Tom is originally from Brooklyn N.Y but has spent his entire professional career in South Carolina, most recently as Head of Reference Services at the College of Charleston. As part of the Against the Grain and Charleston Conference team, he serves as the associate editor of the print ATG as well as the co-editor of the webpage. Tom’s conference duties include coordinating the Penthouse Suite interviews as well as the conference poster sessions.
He received his MLS from the University of Buffalo, SUNY and a second master’s in public administration from the College of Charleston and the Univ. of South Carolina. His wife Carol and he live in downtown Charleston and she is an artist and a tour guide offering historic walking tours of the city.