Big Library Read

OverDrive recently announced the title for the second Big Library Read, to be held September 16-30, 2013. For those of you unfamiliar with Big Library Read, the program provides unlimited simultaneous access to the chosen eBook for a two-week period to all participating libraries. The first program, from May 15 to June 1, 2013, featured Michael Malone’s Four Corners of the Sky. This time OverDrive is highlighting a children’s book — Jane O’Connor’s Nancy Clancy, Super Sleuth.
Nancy Clancy Super Sleuth. Why do a Big Library Read? According to OverDrive CEO Steve Potash (in a May Library Journal article), “We want to demonstrate once and for all the enormous influence of the library demographic, and that when libraries put an eBook in their catalog it serves a valuable role in increasing exposure and engagement with an author’s work.”
I think this program is a great way for libraries to highlight their digital collections without having to worry about patrons encountering a waiting list. Participating in Big Library Read could lead to conversations about other electronic materials the library offers, and could potentially lend itself to a library book discussion program. I hope the program also helps improve the relationship between libraries and publishers by providing data on the impact that library promotion of a book has on that book’s sales. For instance, I participated in the first Big Library Read, and when I wasn’t able to finish the book within the two-week check-out period, I looked for another copy of it. (True, I ended up borrowing the print copy from my local library — all the electronic copies were checked out, and there was a waiting list! — but I know many others who would choose to buy a book rather than wait for it to become available at the library.)
I’m curious to see how many checkouts Nancy Clancy gets, and how sales of the title (both electronic and in print) are affected by the program. It’ll also be interesting to compare the second Big Read’s statistics to the first one. Will a children’s book get more or fewer readers than Malone’s novel did in May? Will the changes in sales be similar? (For those interested, The Digital Shift published a nice review of checkout statistics for the last Big Library Read.)
What are your thoughts on Big Library Read? What do you think of OverDrive’s choice of a children’s book?

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