What we achieved by promoting our E-Books

The promotion of English-language books proves to be a special challenge in German libraries, as these titles are used much less frequently than their German counterparts. Due to some lucky lotto winnings (or something quite similiar 😉 ), in 2008 we were able to purchase some hundreds Elsevier eBooks in diverse medical subject areas. To promote these new titles to our English-avoiding (Page 9) clients, since December 2008 each week we featured one of these titles via our library’s blog.

Most interesting is the evaluation of our promotional engagement: Did it have any effect on usage? What’s with the not-promoted books? In general, usage stats revealed heavy usage of the promoted book titles in contrast to ones we’ve not promoted. As one would think, this increased usage started shortly after posting the respective blog entries.


Red line = Promoted books. Average of usage 39 books, each with a prominent book review in the library blog. Usage was counted in months after promotional event (book review).
Blue line = Non-promoted books. Average of usage of 290 books without any book review, but with a single mentioning of the fact of accessibility (=general promotion).

In this period, all 329 books were used 5.118 times. That’s about 15,6 per book or 1,2 requests per month per book. 1st conclusion: In comparison, our German titles were used on average 100 times a month, that are 2 orders of magnitude more.
The 290 non-promoted books were used 3.721 times or 1,0 times per month. The 39 promoted books were used 2.197 times or 4,3 times per month. Beginning with promotion, the respective books showed an explosion of usage. It led to an overall fourfold increase in usage, and to a twentyfold increase above non-promoted base line (s.a.) in the promotional month. 2nd conclusion: Book reviews by blog entries is highly successful for increasing awareness and usage by faculty.
3rd conclusion: In contrast, a single promotion of the Sciencedirect portal and the publishing of a master book list led only to an doubling or tripling of the average usage base line of 1,0 per month (blue line).
4th conclusion: The increased usage of promoted titles didn’t last forever, instead it vanished three months after the promotional event, both with book reviews or general promotion.

Potential bias: From the overall collection (1995-2009), only recently published books (2007-2009) were selected for book review. Massive downloading by single users may led to erroneous swings (e.g. blue line month ‚9‘, red line month ’10‘), especially with overall low usage counts.