Bibs & Blather
Who’s Out There?
It’s been 21 months since the last “Readership Patterns” discussion (C&I 5:8, June 2005). Since then, Cites & Insights has changed hosts and included two or three major special pieces. Time for another check.
First the baseline: My expectations and hopes for readership. I expect to have at least a few hundred readers; otherwise, this might not be worth doing. I hope most essays will eventually reach 1,500 readers or more, although that’s not critical. Anything over 2,000 is gravy: I’m delighted, to be sure.
When I looked at 2003 and 2004 readership in early 2005, I found most issues in 2003 (volume 3) had between 1,300 and 2,500 downloads, with one showing 4,500 downloads. In 2004, half the issues exceeded 2,400 downloads (three over 3,000) and four more had 1,800 to 2,400 downloads—but three others had fewer than 1,600 downloads, with one showing 1,100 (but that omitted a few hundred readers at a temporary site). Back then, there were no HTML separates, which made numbers easier but also made it harder to spot essays of special interest.
Looking at patterns through February 1, 2007, several things are clear:
Ø Readership continues to grow. At the old website (cites.boisestate.edu), the first half of 2003 showed 2,200 to 4,700 visitors per month (4 months under 4,000); the second half, 4,460 to 6,730 (4 months under 5,000). The first half of 2004 showed 4,800 to 6,806 visitors per month (4 months between 5,000 and 6,000); the second half, 6,113 to 7,420 (4 months under 7,000). Come 2005, the first half ran anywhere from 7,560 to 12,291 (3 months over 11,400), the second half 9,405 to 15,634 (5 months over 12,800). The first half of 2006—noting that C&I moved in July 2006—included the first and only month over 20,000 (January 2006, which included the Midwinter “Library 2.0” issue) and had three other months over 18,800—with none lower than 15,436.
Ø Here’s where it gets interesting: The last six months of 2006 showed 14,600 to 18,774 visitors per month, and while the highest number was July, there were only two months under 15,000. That’s with no new issues and all of my posts and other publicity (and the home page) pointing to citesandinsights.info. There’s a lot of residual readership coming from other sources. January 2007 isn’t bad either: 14,674 visitors.
Ø I don’t have monthly readership for the new site, but over the 6.5 months it’s been operating there have been 46,000 sessions—roughly an average of 7,000 per month. That’s a substantial drop but it’s also a different log analysis system. I trust indirect traffic will rise over time—but if it doesn’t, that’s OK.
Ø Since C&I moved to cites.boisestate.edu in December 2002, more than 133,000 unique IP addresses have visited the site—a number that simply astonishes me. The number for the new site: A little over 18,000.
For individual issues and essays, I’ve added the two PDF figures—but haven’t attempted to integrate HTML counts with PDF downloads. What I see is that readership is spread out over several years, which is surprising but gratifying. Given the patterns I see, I won’t draw conclusions about the relatively low download figures for issues 6:11 through 6:14 (all between 1,200 and 1,500, not including HTML separates)—it’s too early to say much.
The numbers here are somewhat startling. Here they are, volume by volume, noting that Volume 1 and Volume 2 (and the inaugural issue) originally appeared on my personal AT&T account, so these numbers are really all delayed readership:
Ø Six of the issues in Volume 1 have more than 2,000 downloads since moving to boisestate.edu; the other seven all exceed 1,200.
Ø Four of the issues in Volume 2 have more than 2,000; the others all exceed 1,200.
Ø One issue in Volume 3 (the CIPA special) now shows more than 10,000 downloads. Six others exceed 5,000, six more exceed 3,000—and one had 2,638. That was issue 3:2 (February 2003), with ten different sections in 18 pages. You don’t read C&I for “blog post equivalents” or “short column equivalents.”
Ø Volume 4 shows five issues over 5,000, three more over 4,000, five more over 3,000—and one with 2,356. That’s 4:10, the one first published at AT&T.net due to server problems; it’s fair to estimate that the count is at least 500 to 600 low.
Ø Volume 5 has two issues over 4,000, six over 3,000, and the remainder all over 2,000.
Ø Volume 6 has one issue over 10,000 (guess which?), two over 3,000, six over 2,000, and the remainder over 1,200. The only one of the remainder that’s more than five months old is issue 6:5, the Diamond Anniversary issue—and I think I knew 75 mini-essays weren’t a great idea as soon as I published it.
If someone asked what my readership was, I’d say “at least 1,500 to 2,000 regular readers (including HTML and passalong PDF), with more over time.” But, of course, I factor in some portion of HTML downloads for recent issues. What about those numbers?
Ø The monster, as you’d expect, is v6i2a, Library 2.0 and “Library 2.0”—12,538 visits to the HTML page along with 11,555 PDF downloads. That comes out to over 24,000—about 40 times the readership I originally hoped to attract here and about 10 times what I consider enormous success.
Ø Only one other essay had more than 10,000 HTML hits: v5i10b, You can probably guess that one too: “Investigating the Biblioblogosphere.” Plus 4,795 PDF downloads…
Ø Other than internal pages (oldvol, about, citoc, cifaq), HTML hits drop fast after that. v5i13a, “Life Trumps Blogging,” added 5,333 hits to a 2,600-download issue; v5i7d, “Weblogging Ethics and Impact,” added 3,016 hits to a 3,855-download issue. All the others are under 3,000, with 19 over 2,000 (all but two of them from volumes 5 and 6) and at least 50 more over 1,000. If I had to estimate, I’d say most substantive essays eventually pick up more than 1,000 HTML readers.
That’s it—too much, I’m sure. Incidentally, at least 150 different nations show up with three or more visitors at cites.boisestate.edu; 71 have 100 or more and 22 have 1,000 or more. Top 10, in descending order: United States, UK, Canada, Germany, China, France, Australia, Norway, Netherlands, Japan.
This one’s just dumb, but it sure is common: “loose” as a verb and “lose” as an adjective. That error passes any spellchecker and if people pay attention to Word’s grammar check, it probably doesn’t spot the problem. (Yes, I know “loose” can be a verb—but any time I’ve seen it used that way, they meant “lose.” Few people say things like “Loose my heart from these binds.”) Whether it’s a spelling error or a grammatical error, it’s unfortunate.
I can’t imagine any C&I reader doesn’t know the difference, but just in case, consider antonyms. Lose is the opposite of find; loose is the opposite of tight. You can’t tight an object, and you can’t have a lose command of the English language.
The first two issues of Volume 7 were Perspective-heavy, since Finding a Balance is a category of Perspective. This issue’s more random, although it appears “media” is the (accidental) theme for most of it. Meanwhile, it’s been a while since a piece on Library Access to Scholarship—and longer since a copyright essay. I’m planning an LAtS piece for next issue; copyright-related issues are light at the moment.
The real reason for the peculiar nature of this issue? Simple.
Remember Bibs & Blather in C&I 7:1—specifically, “This Year’s Plans”? The part about book ideas?
It’s now pretty nearly certain that I’ll self-publish the first book in a possible “C&I Books” series. The rough draft is done. As I write this, I’m a third of the way through revisions. I still need to design the book template, do the rest of the revisions, add index entries (oh, joy) and do the final publishing bits (cover design, Lulu storefront, upload and publish). It’s possible the book will be available before the April C&I is out or appear simultaneously with that issue. Unless something goes wrong, it’s likely it will be out before the May issue.
Some of the energy that might otherwise go into Cites & Insights has been diverted to the book as it’s begun to seem more plausible. I’m not apologizing—I think the first two issues of the year were both strong and this one isn’t bad—but there it is.
There’s crossover. You’ve seen a rough draft of Chapter 2 and a not-quite-final draft of Chapter 15. A third chapter may appear in the next issue. As soon as the book’s complete I’ll describe it here.
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