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Most Popular Computer Ebooks (at my library)

   September 22nd, 2011

Safari Computer EbooksSince getting back to work this week, I've been trying to get caught up on emails and feeds.

Stephen's Lighthouse linked to the top 25 most downloaded titles on Overdrive - which reminded me that I had recently done our year-end database usage stats, and compiled highest-access titles for our Safari Computer Ebooks database.

Our top 12 most-accessed books were:

Title, Author Accessed
Sams Teach Yourself Java in 24 Hours, Fifth Edition, by Rogers Cadenhead 706
CISSP Exam Cram, Second Edition, by Michael Gregg 684
CISSP Study Guide, by Eric Conrad, Seth Misenar, Joshua Feldman 677
The Green Screen Handbook, by Jeff Foster 577
Java: A Beginner's Tutorial, by Budi Kurniawan 462
Adobe InDesign CS5 On Demand, by Steve Johnson - Perspection, Inc. 358
SAP MM HANDBOOK, by Kogent Learning Solutions, Inc. 356
Microsoft Excel 2010 Step by Step, by Curtis D. Frye 340
Sams Teach Yourself Android Application Development in 24 Hours, by Lauren Darcey, Shane Conder 305
Beginning iPhone and iPad Web Apps: Scripting with HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript, by Chris Apers, Daniel Paterson 278
Ruby on Rails 3 Tutorial: Learn Rails by Example, by Michael Hartl 270
IT Systems Management, Second Edition, by Rich Schiesser 220

The Safari stats interface doesn't make it really easy to identify this. Finding the number of sessions isn't too bad*, but we have to report the total number of "circulations" for these ebooks - which to me means the number of times each one was accessed.

I was able to run one report that seemed like a master total usage report, which I think indicated that 433 of our ebooks have been "hit" a total of 12,256 times.

Also interesting, if I'm reading these reports right, those 433 books are only about 1/8 of the collection, meaning 7/8 never got touched even once. Also, of those 433, 250 were accessed five or fewer times (totaling 410 circs), and the top twelve books (which all had >200 "hits") have a combined total of 5233 circs. Which means that 12 books account for a little under half of our total activity.

That is shocking, but also should be a fairly good indicator of what the leading technologies are right now (at least for my patrons, and among the selections available in our Safari catalog) - and a good reason to supplement our Safari access with print copies.


*Incidentally, we had 963 patron user sessions for FY11

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4 Responses to “Most Popular Computer Ebooks (at my library)”

  1. Oleg K. Says:

    Total hits per book is interesting, but I wonder if there’s a way to identify how many of those were repeat hits by the same person. I know from my experience with tech books, there are two main uses: to look something up (reference), and for learning. The latter requires me to access the physical/ebook numerous times for at least a week or two. Because the system, for privacy (among other reasons) may not track individual users, a visual plot of hits over time would allows you to better analyze use of this database.

    The above doesn’t take away from the circ stats, but it does give some insight on the real total number of people benefiting from this service and how they are using it.

    In practice, I suppose, most of this info is just interesting to see. Theoretically, however, it might be helpful in determining how you promote the service (and if your promotional effort generates and additional traffic).

  2. Amy M. Says:

    Thanks for this post. With patrons clamoring for e-books, it’s interesting to see how a chunk of a vendor’s collection doesn’t get touched. When my public library *cough*finally*cough* gets e-books, I intend to run a similar analysis on the leisure reading titles.

  3. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Oleg: I didn’t investigate that far, but it had occurred to me. Although, for our purposes of reporting “circ” stats, it didn’t matter – we don’t connect print-book circ to patrons, or what percentage of patrons account for our print circ (or DVD circ, or CD circ), so it didn’t seem fair to do it for ebooks either. But it should certainly be easier to do with online stuff.

    Oh, and speaking of promoting, the most successful tactic we use right now is to put up a sign on the computer book shelves, explaining what Safari is with little “how to log in from home” bookmarks for people to take with them. I am constantly refilling those bookmarks.

    @Amy: I think the opposite was true when we first launched on Overdrive – we had so few ebooks, people were willing to download just about anything that was available. Now that our catalog is grown and it’s less of a novelty for our patrons, it would be very interesting to see.

  4. Swiss Army Librarian » #PLA12 Weeding in the Digital Age :: Brian Herzog Says:

    […] to hear how other libraries balance print and online purchasing – for instance, we subscribe to the Safari Computer Ebooks database, and so have cut back on our print computer books. Tags: collection development, collections, […]