How people find books


I can’t tell you how many times a faculty member has sent me a reference from Amazon asking if we could get a certain book.  Often we already have the book in our collection, but the go-to source for many for finding books is Amazon, not the OPAC.  This new NBER Working Paper talks about the online tools consumers use to find books of interest.

Searching for Physical and Digital Media: The Evolution of
Platforms for Finding Books
by Michael R. Baye, Babur De los Santos, Matthijs R. Wildenbeest – #19519 (IO PR)


This paper provides a data-driven overview of the different online
platforms that consumers use to search for books and booksellers, and
documents how the use of these platforms is shifting over time. Our
data suggest that, as a result of digitization, consumers are
increasingly conducting searches for books at retailer sites and
closed systems (e.g., the Kindle and Nook) rather than at general
search engines (e.g., Google or Bing). We also highlight a number of
challenges that will make it difficult for researchers to accurately
measure internet-based search behavior in the years to come.
Finally, we highlight a number of open agenda items related to the
pricing of books and other digital media, as well as consumer search

The Catalog Rules

Every spring, we survey our students on all sorts of library stuff.

In a question dealing with online services, we asked students which databases and search products they used for research. We included Socrates, our OPAC, since we want to emphasize the catalog and its importance at every opportunity. The drop down choices that we provided for answers included Westlaw, LexisNexis, Google, BNA, RIA, HeinOnline, MOML and more. We also gave students an opportunity to fill in the blank for other databases not listed in the question.

Most interesting and gratifying, Socrates, our online catalog, gets great use, even more use than LexisNexis!

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