Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Are Public Library Uses of Downloadable Content Decreasing?

Total annual uses of downloadable content compared to previous years has not decreased, but it is definitely decelerating. The simplest way to show this is by graphing the monthly usage statistics posted by WPLC.

Total Monthly Uses of Downloadable Content 2011-2016In a graph like this, if increases are the same from year to year, all the years would be equal­ly spaced. If the percentage of increase is the same every year, each line is farther from the one before. In the graph of total uses of downloadable content, however, 2016, 2015, and 2014 are each closer than the year before; that is, growth is slowing.

Total annual uses of downloadable content514,6451,190,9182,153,2292,941,2063,578,621
% increase from prior year131.4%80.8%36.6%21.7%

Total Monthly Uses of E-books 2011-2016This trend is more visible in uses of e-books, where the January through March 2016 uses are much closer to 2015. During the year, we get some idea of trends by comparing the same range of months in different years. Total e-book uses for Jan-Mar 2016 is 6.2% more than the same period of 2015. (The Jan-Mar 2015 total was 18.7% more than Jan-Mar 2014.) Note, however, that annual increases are typically lower than com­par­i­sons part way through the year; for example, e-book uses for 2015 were 14.4% more than 2014, while the Jan-Mar 2015 increase was 18.7% more than Jan-Mar 2014 e-book uses.

Total annual uses of e-books231,644819,7261,538,1632,177,5752,490,836
% increase from prior year253.9%87.6%41.6%14.4%

Total Monthly Uses of Audiobooks 2011-2016Uses of audiobooks do buoy total uses of downloadable content. We see greater increases in audiobook use each year (each line is farther from the previous one) and deceleration in growth is substantially less than what we see in e-books.

Total annual uses of audiobooks278,082366,798542,540753,4991,029,752
% increase from prior year31.9%47.9%38.9%36.7%

To a lesser extent, annual increases in the number of people who download e-books, e-audio, and e-video are also decelerating. Altogether, both uses and users of downloadable content in Wisconsin public libraries appear to be approaching plateaus that library service planning may want to take into account.

Written by
Jamie McCanless, Public Library Development Team