At the American Library Association Annual Meeting this month digital library content facilitator Rakuten OverDrive revealed a statistic that bears out a simple truth in any format: More choice of books means more reader engagement.

The numbers are startling.

Ebook and audiobook reading increased over 240% when students connected their Sora classroom reading app to their local public library versus students solely accessing their school collection. In addition, student time spent reading ebooks and audiobooks nearly doubled since Sora was introduced to K-12 schools in September 2018.

See testimonials from participating schools in the OverDrive press release.

Here rather to look at the bigger picture, which applies equally whether were talking print or digital, adults of children, North America or Africa or Asia.
And that’s simply that, if for whatever reason we limit the choice consumers have then we have only ourselves to blame if the response and sales are, well, limited.
With traditional ink & paper books in bricks and mortar bookstores there are of course very real limitations of space, distribution and material costs, which are largely negated by digital, hence the remarkable results the Sora app is seeing when connecting schools with public libraries.
And while this is a report about North American libraries and schools, it’s something we could see repeated globally in the next decade as digital libraries proliferate and publishers make more content available to library networks.