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Growing Role of Amazon in Library Acquisitions

July 23, 2018

Research on where academic libraries buy their books has revealed the increasingly important role of nontraditional vendors such as Amazon.

A preliminary study, published last week by Ithaka S+R, found that Amazon was the second most popular venue through which academic libraries purchased books in 2017.

GOBI Library Solutions, a popular acquisition-management platform, took the No. 1 spot. It controls nearly half of the market share.

The research included data from 54 libraries at a range of institutions -- from small private liberal arts colleges to public research universities.

During 2017, these 54 libraries purchased 178,120 academic books. The clear majority of these were in print format (96 percent) rather than ebooks (4 percent). Ebooks were found to be significantly more expensive than print titles.

In a blog post, Katherine Daniel, an analyst at Ithaka S+R, explained that the study was prompted by questions of whether libraries are really buying fewer books, or simply purchasing them in ways that are not currently captured in acquisition analyses.

Further research will include data from large research institutions and will be published in a final report this fall.

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Lindsay McKenzie

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