May 20, 2022

Report: Study Examines The Impact Of Germany’s Digital Public Library Service “Onleihe”

From the German Publishers and Booksellers Association/Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels:

A new study confirms that Germany’s “Onleihe” (digital public library service) actually reduces the willingness of target groups to continue buying books, especially groups consisting of enthusiastic book readers with high purchasing power. The study was published under the name “Wer leiht was in Bibliotheken und insbesondere online? Ein 360°-Blick auf die Onleihe” (tr. Who borrows what in libraries and especially online? A 360° look at the digital library service Onleihe) and presented today in Berlin by the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (German Publishers and Booksellers Association) together with the GfK market research institute. The study has made it possible for the Börsenverein to present wide-ranging market research data on e-book borrowers at public libraries for the very first time.

A brief overview of the study’s core findings:

  • A total of 2.6 million people borrow digital books and other media in Germany via the digital library system known as “Onleihe”; a total of 1.9 million people use the service to borrow e-books.
  • Two thirds of Onleihe users are under the age of 50, which means they are very young compared to the overall population. They also score above-average in terms of purchasing power and education.
  • Although Onleihe users are among the most active buyers on the book market, almost half of them stated that they purchased fewer or no books at all after they started using Onleihe (45 percent in the case of print books; 46 percent in the case of e-books)
  • The majority of Onleihe users are satisfied with the scope of Onleihe media products as well as how up-to-date the products are.

Read the Complete Summary/News Release

Direct to Key Results: “Who Borrows What In Libraries And Especially Online?” A 360° Look At Germany’s Digital Public Library Service ‘Onleihe'”

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.