Late in 2014, Scholarly Kitchen shared with us a project with Ithaka S+R to research Amazon’s book sales to academic libraries. Some early results are in and they can be viewed on the Ithaka Web site. The Scholarly Kitchen brought this interesting information to our attention in their article, “Update on a Library Research Project.”

The project began at the intersection of two separate questions: with sales of university press (UP) books to libraries declining, and with UP sales for print to Amazon continuing to rise, to what extent has Amazon begun to replace more traditional wholesalers such as YBP, Baker & Taylor, and Ingram?

Since Amazon won’t share any information about sales, there was no easy way to find out what share of academic library sales they controlled. Ithaka S+R has deep experience in academic surveys and they were able to generate a very high response rate to build a starting database to analyze.

In a huge detour from normal practice, it was decided to go directly to the library management systems themselves and get actual historical purchasing data in lieu of librarians.

Currently there are only four libraries reporting so the data is preliminary, but as more libraries join the project, the findings are expected to give insight into collections and purchasing patterns, information that can be used to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of both libraries and publishers.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in thesaurus, ontology, and taxonomy creation and metadata application.