Ebook Downloads Trending Up


Hi friends!

I haven’t sent out a newsletter in years, so I decided it was about time. Since my last edition, I have published several more books and redesigned my website. Please check it out at amyhagberg.com. My blog features book reviews among other things, and you’ll receive a copy of the newsletter when I post a new one, usually once or twice a month.

The year 2020 was one for the record books on so many levels. As an author and librarian, I noticed firsthand the impact COVID-19 had on the book business. Publishers stopped acquiring books, and consumers stopped buying them. Most libraries were shuttered for months, and even when they opened, fewer patrons felt comfortable inside. That still hasn’t changed; my library is much quieter than it was a year ago.

While circulation of physical books is down, 2020 was a record year for digital lending. According to OverDrive, the leading digital platform for public libraries and schools, quite a few records were set last year:

  • Total digital checkouts from libraries and schools: 430 million (+33% over 2019)
  • E-books borrowed: 289 million (+40%)
  • Children/YA genre checkouts: 111 million (+79%)
  • E-book and audiobook holds/waitlisted: 187 million (+44%)
  • 102 public library systems around the world (+72%) achieved more than 1 million digital book checkouts

The growth rate of digital audio (the hottest segment of the publishing industry over the last decade) actually declined, most likely because there was less commuting.

Top Titles

Most popular e-books borrowed from libraries in 2020:

  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Putnam)
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama (Crown)
  • Educated by Tara Westover (Random House Publishing Group)
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (Penguin Publishing Group)
  • The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes (Viking/Dorman)

Most popular audiobooks borrowed from libraries in 2020:

  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling (Pottermore)
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama (Penguin Random House Audio)
  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Penguin Random House Audio)
  • Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell (Hachette Audio)
  • Educated by Tara Westover (Penguin Random House Audio)

A full set of the set of most popular lists can be found on the OverDrive website.


Here’s how to access digital content at your library:


My favorite library app is Libby. It is user-friendly and easy to download. You can borrow and read free ebooks, audiobooks, and magazines from your library using your smart phone or tablet. All you need is a library card! The downside to accessing digital content via the library is that you may have a long wait. And then there are those pesky due dates! Electronic materials will be deleted from your shelf whether or not you are finished with the. https://www.overdrive.com/apps/libby/

If you’re lucky enough to belong to a library that uses Hoopla, you have free access to movies, TV shows, music, eBooks, comics, and audiobooks. The app features a basic sleep timer, just a few narration speeds, 30-second skip forward/back options, and bookmarking capability. The only downside is that there is usually a limit to how many borrows you are allowed for the month across all media types. https://www.hoopladigital.com/


Other options to access digital content:



Scribd (sounds like ribbed) was a great find for me. It is considered by many to be “the Netflix of books” and for a good reason. Scribd is a digital reading subscription that brings you monthly access to the best books, audiobooks, news, and magazines. You can even access legal documentation and sheet music!

I like to get both the audiobook and ebook, so I can listen while I am driving, doing chores, or cooking and read at night, and Scribd is the easiest way to do that. There are apps for tablets and smartphones, or you can go to their website www.scribd.com.

The only downside of this service is that their catalogs rotate the more you read. The availability of their content is based on a variety of factors:

  • The deals they have with their publishing partners
  • General consumption level
  • Cost
  • Popularity


Audible is an online audiobook and podcast service owned by Amazon.com Inc. that allows users to purchase and stream audiobooks and other forms of spoken word content via a monthly subscription. One $14.95 credit usually allows you to download one audiobook a la carte unless there is a promotion. The company recently debuted a new subscription for $7.95/month that allows subscribers to get all-you-can-eat access to original podcasts and 11,000 audiobooks. No new releases here. Audible is the United States’ largest audiobook producer and retailer.


Kindle Unlimited offers unlimited reading for $9.99/month on any Amazon device or Kindle app. Although there is a wide selection of books, the Kindle store lacks best-selling authors from the “Big 5” publishers (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster). Some titles are available in both audio and ebook formats.

There you have it… some great options for electronic reading. Be sure to check out my blog for some book recommendations. See you soon!

Happy reading!




Posted in Reading and tagged , , , , , , , , .