The Role of Used and Discount Book Services

A Look at Out-of-Print Books and Libraries

By resourceshelf on Libraries and Librarianship

From the Article:

Using data collected from collections-development specialists at 144 institutions – more than 86 percent of them academic libraries – Tafuri shows the role that used and discount book services such as Abebooks, Alibris, and Amazon now play. Most of the libraries responding (59 percent) had an annual acquisitions budget of under $500,000 a year.

Not quite 30 percent spent more than $1 million on acquisitions. The one thing held in common by the overwhelming majority (92.4 percent) of institutions was that they acquired books from the secondhand market. The few librarians who didn’t cited vendor contracts or lack of an institutional credit card as the reason. Among the reasons cited for buying books online were to replace copies of books gone missing or to acquire rare volumes.

But a surprisingly large number of institutions — more than 72 percent — “indicated that they were purchasing used or out-of-print books as part of ‘regular purchases’ for their library’s collection.” Most indicated that they devoted no more than 10 percent of their budgets to used books. The 15 percent or so earmarking more for secondhand acquisitions fell into a distinct group: “All of those individuals [who] responded that their library’s used and out-of-print purchases accounted for up to 11 to 25 percent of their book budget were from academic libraries.”