Telling downloads: Top downloadable books

Did you know that the company the library uses for digital books (OverDrive) publishes its top ten lists of titles downloaded every month? Me either. I took a look at the top ten adult fiction and nonfiction titles downloaded from libraries in the U.S., Canada and the UK to see if I could glean any useful information. Would the U.S. list be a repeat of the New York Times bestseller list?

The answer, surprisingly:  not really. Here’s the current bestseller list for adult fiction from the NY Times. Here’s the U.S. most downloaded from the library fiction list from OverDrive. On the same screen at the top, you can link to the other lists if you’re curious. It appears that people in North America and Britain are getting copies of The Help by Kathryn Stockett any way they can. It’s a top seller in the US, and is on all three of the most downloaded books lists. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, on the other hand, is no longer a bestseller, but is on all 4 downloadable lists.

In an informal study of book availability and preference (conducted by me), using the library’s catalog and Sherlockian deduction, I have come to the following conclusions regarding these and other titles we have in common with Brits and Canucks.

  1. We are willing to buy some books (The Help by Stockett) but not others (Eat, Pray, Love by Gilbert). There are many reasons for this.
  2. Americans enjoy a popular author ′til death and will read anything they write (James Patterson, John Grisham, Nora Roberts).
  3. If “everyone” is reading a book, then everyone else has to read it, too. (Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Triolgy beginning with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and in the UK The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson ).
  4. Americans enjoy suspense and thrillers more than other fiction. Seven of the US top ten downloaded from the library novels are in this category.
  5. Brits enjoy philosophy and the history of themselves: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, Our Kind of Traitor by John LeCarré, Agincourt (Britain won) by Bernard Cornwell, The Alchemist’s Secret by Mariani and Heresy by S.J. Parris.
  6. People in the UK aren’t enthused by titles with bad words (Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern), but North Americans are.
  7. We all want to eat, pray, love, laugh, be happy, be thin, get rich and be successful.

                           ~ Jen B., Central Library

2 thoughts on “Telling downloads: Top downloadable books”

  1. My book club is reading Girl with a Dragon Tattoo soon. I kinda feel glad to be reading it since people are talking about it and i keep seeing people reading it on the bus. thanks for the titles here!

  2. This is the most brilliant and insightful piece of ethno-bibliographical analysis I’ve ever read! I especially like, “Brits enjoy … history of themselves.” Snap!
    Seriously, great idea comparing download lists. Good to know we’re not all reading in global lockstep.
    Kudos to Jen B and the Seattle Public Library team!

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