Library Acquisition Patterns: Preliminary Findings
Katherine Daniel, Joseph J. Esposito, Roger C. Schonfeld: Several years ago, we set out to better understand how both library acquisition practices and the distribution patterns of publishers and vendors were evolving over time. Within the academic publishing community, there is a sense that academic libraries are acquiring fewer and fewer books and that university presses are struggling amid declining sales. The latter may certainly be true—a recent UK study found that between 2005 and 2014, retail sales of academic books dropped by 13 percent—but what if the academic libraries that constitute part of that market were in reality not making fewer purchases? As new vendors and acquisition methods disrupt customary means of acquiring books, Joseph Esposito, Ithaka S+R’s frequent collaborator and consultant, was inspired to ask whether book sales were actually depressed, or if they only appeared to be because academic libraries were bypassing the traditional wholesale vendors whose metrics are used by university presses to assess sales to libraries for companies like Amazon.