Library loans in this case, which are always interesting since they apply to books long out of print and mostly forgotten by the shops, i.e. those titles that get no current promotion and are presumably picked off the shelf just because they look like they might be an enjoyable read.
Of course, over the years older copies on library shelves eventually fall to pieces and cannot be replaced. (Possibly popular books that are borrowed a lot wear out even faster than those that sit on the shelf for months on end, though I am not sure about this... any librarians out there enlighten the unicorn?) But assuming a book survives years of being carried home in the rain, scanned electronically many times over, read while someone is eating spaghetti bolognaise and/or chocolate, being chewed by various dogs and cats, and getting eaten by giant bookworms, etc, how many people can be expected to borrow and read it?
These were Katherine's five most popular books borrowed from UK libraries last year:
*1. The Cleopatra Curse - 952 loans (weird, since this book was her lowest-selling title)
2. I am the Great Horse - 759 loans
3. Sword of Light - 649 loans (only published in last half of library year, doubling this figure would put it at no.1*)
4. The Olympic Conspiracy - 624 loans
5. The Great Pyramid Robbery - 603 loans
In total, her books had a total of 5,235 loans - a modest number that reflects the fact only two of them on last year's list - Sword of Light and Song Quest - are currently in print (the others are available as ebooks only). This compares to her most popular year of 42,207 loans in 2004, when most of her earlier books were still in the shops... the no1. borrowed title that year was The Great Pyramid Robbery at 13,670 loans!
A short survey:
Do you go to libraries to find out of print books?
Have you ever had trouble finding Katherine's books in a library near you?
Would you ever borrow an ebook - either from a library or from Amazon?
Let the unicorn know, and maybe I'll wave my magic horn to help you find these elusive titles.