Library Acquisition Patterns Final Report Released

January 29, 2019

The final report related to our Library Acquisitions Patterns (LAP) project with Ithaka S+R has been released. The project was originally conceived by Joe Esposito and underwritten by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The project began with a simple question, for which there was no public information: To what extent has Amazon emerged as a wholesaler for books to academic libraries? Amazon, of course, is the preeminent book retailer, selling directly to consumers, but for it to also serve as a supplier to libraries meant that academic publishers, and university presses in particular, may be underestimating the proportion of their sales to libraries. The project created an innovative methodology, obtaining access (with the permission of libraries) from the library automation systems marketed by ProQuest/Ex Libris and OCLC. This enabled the creation of a large database of information on library acquisitions, for which there is no precedent.

Among the findings is that, yes, Amazon is indeed a significant supplier to libraries, constituting about 10% of all library print purchases. (Print purchases are about two-thirds of academic library book acquisitions.) Within our sample, GOBI Library Solutions, a unit of EBSCO, is the dominant vendor of both print and e-books. Amazon is the second largest print book vendor, but trails by a wide margin, and has no meaningful presence in the e-book market (unlike in the consumer market where its Kindle platform is the market leader).


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